Monday, May 14, 2012

Spring Reviews: A Stylish Retail Interview with Clothing Boutique Owner - Cindy Shelby

If you have never been to the quaint Oklahoma City clothing boutique, Ruth Meyers, you are missing out on meeting the store’s owner, the tiniest, most radiant ray of sunshine, Cindi Shelby. She is sharp and knowledgeable of the styles and fits of her frequent and infrequent customers alike. When I thought of interviewing someone with experience in translating runway fashion to a diverse range of mid-south ladies I not only wanted to know what she thought about 2012 trends, but also the behind the scenes decisions a store owner and buyer must make for her clients. 

Cindi, in purple and hidden by a garment bag, helps a customer.
(Q) We know that trends like neons and mixed patterns are big this season, but what do you view as “in style” for Oklahoma women this Spring and Summer? 

(A) Cindi confidently states that Oklahoma women are brilliant in interpreting trends! They are fashion conscious. They read fashion magazines and internet articles; they are not fashion victims, but interpret the trends in a way that makes sense. 

(Q) What would you say are the three “must haves” this season? 

(A) high color piece: whether jean or jacket, it needs to be an important piece to the ensemble (i.e. an orange, turquoise, or red jacket or colored denim, such as, kelly green jeans) 
A printed item: i.e. a printed top like the Nicole Miller flowy top, a dress or even bottoms 
Mad Men look: early 60’s through early 70’s inspired lady-like looks (i.e. pencil skirts and feminine dresses) 

(Q) How many markets do you attend to source your products? 

(A) 9 markets, 4 NY, 5 Dallas 

(Q) Do you often have individual customers in mind when purchasing your merchandise? 

(A) She exclaimed, “Always! If I can’t feel excited immediately or that I can’t think of at least five people (by name) I won’t buy.” 

(Q) Obviously you demand quality. What is your number one must have when it comes to quality? 

(A) “The fabric.” Cindi says she has to feel every garment. It must have a nice hand and feel nice against your skin. After she establishes that she likes the fabric she moves on to check the notions, seams, linings, etc. 

(Q) What, if any, changes have you made since becoming owner of Ruth Meyer’s? 
(Or maybe I should have asked what has she not changed?) 

(A) First, Cindi changed the merchandise mix by bringing in some younger, more casual and lower price point items. She rearranged the store to present more merchandise on the floor steering away from the salon style of shopping. She has added a permanent “sale room” to allow the store to turn stock more often, along with hiring two young men and one young woman to help reach a younger demographic, hired an advertising agency to reinvigorate the Ruth Meyers image and painted the walls bright inviting colors. 

(Q) Is there any staple items that you always keep in the store? 

(A) Longchamp’s Le Pliage bags. She updates the colors and styles, but always has them in stock. Jeans: a variety of fits, styles and brands in sizes 0-16. 

(Q) Since you have such a unique selection do you buy more than one size per style? 

(A) Cindi says she will only buy one in the more pricey pieces, reminding me that she always has someone in mind when purchasing. She says she will order up to a couple sizes per style in her staple goods such as t-shirts and jeans. 

(Q) How many trunk shows do you host throughout the year? 

(A) “I do not really know, but lots!” She says some women want to come in to see the full collection and she likes to give them that opportunity. Ruth Meyer’s also hosts jewelry and handbag trunk shows. 

(Q) What sizes do you carry? 

(A) 0-16 and some 18 and 20’s. When talking women’s shape and size she exclaimed “Every woman is beautiful!” 

(Q) Helios and Luna is a new line you are carrying this year. Do you ever find carrying a new line frightening and what made you decide to go with this company? 

(A)When asked about taking on a new line she responded, ”Yes! Totally scary! It’s an expensive commitment. You make the commitment and pray the customers and salespeople will back you.” Cindi has a resident buying office in New York that act as her eyes and ears when she is in Oklahoma. Her buyers really understand the Oklahoma shopper’s style. They were the ones that introduced Cindi to Helio and Luna. Cindi was so excited. She just loved the line. 

Stay tuned for more trend photos of clothing, jewelry and handbags for Ruth Meyers.

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