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.
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