The adventures and musings of an aspiring shoe designer

What Happens in Vegas Pt. 1

At our second meeting “Mary” informed me that WSA was the must attend shoe show and my next lesson.  We made arrangements to fly in to Vegas on the 1st day of the show, work all day and fly back home that night.  She informed me that the best way for me to get an insider’s view to how designers sell and buyers buy was to attend the show as a buyer.  We went under the guise of I was getting ready to open a store in my home state and she was my consultant teaching me the ropes of how to buy. 

She made all the appointments for the show and next thing I know I am the proud owner of a store not yet finished being built.  Part of her assignment was to also take me to meet the owners of a local boutique and discuss their buying strategy with them.  During this time things were all moving so fast, I really felt like I was in the middle of a whirlwind and I found myself being swept up by the excitement she created.  I can still see why she did so well as a sales representative, she has a certain charisma, charm and energy that you find yourself being caught up in.  She also insisted on picking a suitable outfit for me to wear, apparently I didn’t look like the fashionista she thought I should be.  At this time I actually had fun, almost like I had a stylist, which I have always wanted.  I guess if I was going to be the owner of the newest luxury boutique I should play the part with flair.  I have never worn a dress so short and to this day I can’t believe I even dared wear it.  Funny though in Vegas no one even notices how much body you show although I was very self-conscious no one batted an eye.

We arrived in Vegas with meetings scheduled back to back with a short window for lunch.  My first meeting was with BCBG MAXAZRIA which is where I got my first big lesson, your representative can make or break your line.  This was my very first shoe show and needless to say I was very nervous and out of my element.  Mary had advised me that she would do the talking and I was to just follow suit which was fine by me, seeing that like any industry the shoe buying world has its own lingo.  Even with me being brand new I could tell this rep was the perfect example of who not to hire. 

It was the beginning of the show and we were her first appointments, we were at the Venetian Side note the show is held in a few different venues exhibitors either show at the Convention Center in varying size booths with a few thousand other competitors or show in a private hotel room at the Venetian.  She looked like she had partied all night the night before and was possibly still awake, obviously not in the best condition to start her day.  She was wearing Havianas flip-flops which I noticed right away, why wasn’t she wearing her product.  Although she was nice enough her sales technique was basically to tell us “look around and if you want to buy something let me know”.   Good thing for her BCBG has a great product or else she might not be able to pay for her lunch.  I was really quite surprised, seeing how much homework I had done just to pretend to be a buyer and here was an actual rep, selling a real product with absolutely no preparation or attention to detail. 

The next appointment was the exact opposite, we saw an up and coming designer named Anyi Lu (later I found that she had previous ties to Taryn Rose and perhaps this is why Mary made the appointment).  Either way Anyi Lu was there herself although she stayed somewhat out-of-the-way and let her rep do his magic.  This guy was fantastic and to this day I think he is the most thorough, professional and skilled sales person that I have met in this industry.  I would imagine he makes quite a bit of money and is worth every cent. 

He had arranged a mini shoe show complete with two models showing the line.  He explained how the shoes were made and what made them better than others, he knew everything there was to know about the line.  He answered all our questions and even answered questions we didn’t ask.  This man remains today the standard to which I will hold every potential representative to.  He did not make me feel like he was a pushy salesman (I hate that).  I did really like the shoes and when he found out that I wore the sample size he had me try my favorites on and I learned that they were in fact very comfortable.  I found myself wanting to place orders and had to remember that I didn’t have a store, that’s how good he was.  Some people just have it and I think this is something that you can’t teach.  I think that Anyi did exactly what a good business owner does, hire great people, let them do their job and get out of the way.

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