One of my many jobs at our family wedding shop is to decide upon new dress and floral designs for our products. This can sometimes be difficult and is something you have to be on board with right away to insure you don’t miss a fad. There are many different things I like to do to see what’s popular, so that I know what designs to bring into the shop and how to bring the floral arrangements in to match. Any designer or buyer needs to be aware of what is popular, as well as what changes through the different seasons, here are a few tricks I have learned along the way.
First you have to know what kinds of designs are good for the age group you are trying to sell to. At a dress shop like ours, we have all kinds of customers. We have brides, bridesmaids, mothers, flower girls, teenagers, grandmothers, and even ballroom dances to attend to, therefore our designs have to be widely versatile and we have to make sure we have appropriate items for each age group. You have to know what age most of your customers will be, and go from there. You know that little girls usually like princess type dresses, and that mothers and brides usually look for something elegant, while grandmothers and bridesmaids are usually after something simple that matches the wedding colors.
Second you need to know the prices you should charge for your items. You have to know what kind of fabric you are going to be using and how much it will cost to produce the items, so that you know what to charge for the items. You can’t charge extreme prices and you still need to make money. We have a rule of thumb, to mark things where you make at least a 50% profit, however every designer knows their customers, and what price range they are willing to pay.
Third you need to know what’s in style. If you don’t know what your customers are looking for, then you won’t be doing such a great job. We like to look around in stores, and online to see what the latest fads are and build from those. If you see a lot of animal print items that are selling out, then perhaps an animal print dress will sell well. If you see a lot of things that are glittery selling, then sequin and rhinestone dresses will probably be popular. If you see mostly short dresses in the summertime, then shorter cocktail dresses will probably do well. You have to use your deductive reasoning with these and know what to incorporate into your designs.
Last but not least, listen to your customers. Ask around about what people think will be cute, listen to their comments about your current designs and see if they say “well I like it, but not all the sequins” or “I would like it if it were shorter”. Don’t necessarily take it as criticism; take it as a way to help your designs.
As long as you love your work, and love to find new designs and work fads into your designs then you are sure to be able to find something people like. The main thing is to just stay positive and continue working to make your customers happy. Styles are something that can change weekly, so just stay on your toes and you are sure to find things that your customers will love.