A Harlem small business strategizes to survive

via nycgo

Princess Jenkins is the owner of the Brownstone, a New York City clothing and accessories boutique. Last fall, Ms. Jenkins surveyed the market and realized how difficult the next season could be. She met with her five top designers and urged them to produce the boldest fashions they were capable of — designs she knew would appeal to her customers’ flamboyant tastes. “I told them, it’s going to get really tight next year,” she said, “and I need the best you have to offer.”

They also mapped out a bigger marketing plan focused on three major events. In February, Ms. Jenkins rented a ballroom next door and staged her first fashion show, to which she invited 200 top clients. Sales from the event, she said, were “incredible.” Six months later, using decorations, curtains and designs from the show, Ms. Jenkins set up four booths — she usually books just one — during a small-business fair held as part of “Harlem week.” And, in early November, during the marathon, using three of those booths, she held another fashion show, this one with a D.J.

“The next time people come to 125th Street, they’ll remember there was something big going on there,” she said. “It’s all about building a lasting impression.” According to Ms. Jenkins, the moves have paid off with year-to-year sales up about 10 percent. She expects them to total about $350,000 for 2009.

Read the whole article: www.nytimes.com


2 thoughts on “A Harlem small business strategizes to survive

  1. all well and good, yet more likely short term gain, while the long term solutions remain ignored. it’s been touched on before, these harlem based clothing boutiques should have an enclave, a small “micro district” as has been eluded to many times with some of those boutiques on 7th ave above 135th st. N boutique, Oyama, etc. all of them, it would be a short and long term “win win” for them & Harlem if a district emerged of finer boutiques, the hat maker guy, etc. all of them. takes time, not easy, but that’s the direction they should all be migrating to, long term plan, like turning a tanker ship out at sea.

    the current problem is illustrated like when Kim Kardashian goes to that shoe store on 7th and 139th or where ever it is….she goes from her limo to the store and back to the limo – she does not stroll down the “would-be” district. A stroll down the would be district could perhaps get a suit, a custom made Hat, etc. for herself or a friend. More press, more buzz, more idenity. It’s just like when Ne-yo the singer pops into Oyama for a suit, he might buy a female friend or whatever another item in the theoretical boutique next door.

    you see there is no “synergy” in the current structure with these boutique merchants. they are separated, far apart, and each ends up being a desitination, as opposed to a “While I was at N Boutique, I stopped next door at Brownstone and bought my mother or girlfriend a scarf”.

    This is a common retail model, proven, successful, it’s been applied everywhere for good reason. It’s really too bad these merchant don’t band together for the betterment of each other. All other efforts are futile, short lasting and not real long term solutions.

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