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May 20, 2010

LILLA P: Rethinking direction and business strategy

This month we have been profiling Pauline Nakios of LillaP. We have talked about feeling like a real business, demanding to be treated like a client, and building a business that allows you to focus on what you love.

When we spoke to Pauline, we asked about business directions that have changed over time. Pauline had a wonderful example of a strategic direction LillaP pursued and then decided it was not the right direction for the company. The majority of LillaP's customers are small boutiques throughout the country.

Pauline has direct contact with many of the store owners, managers and buyers and has a keen sense of the individual boutiques clientele. For example, Pauline spoke about how brighter colors from her collection are more popular in the south. In NYC and LA many of the boutiques sell tons of basics like black, white and navy. These boutiques have loyal client followings and each store proprietor knows a lot about their specific customers likes and dislikes.

Several years into the business, LillaP was approached by Bloomingdales. This was an exciting opportunity for LillaP as a goal of the company was to sell to large retailers. Initially, they felt there were many potential benefits in landing an account with such a big retailer who obviously had strong brand recognition and deep pockets to place a large order.

On the other hand, Pauline learned that corporate retailers have lots of requirements, (such as specific packaging) that smaller boutiques do not find necessary. What made it most challenging was the lack of direct contact with the person who was selling the product. Unlike her direct connection to a store owner, Pauline found it difficult to establish a relationship to the numerous sales people at all of the various store locations.

When she visited the NYC store, she discovered that clothing was not merchandised well and many styles and colors were piled up in the stock room. Pauline realized that drawbacks of selling to a large retailer outweighed the benefits.

She decided that in the future, LillaP would not pursue larger retailers but instead would stick to selling to the customers they know and love - small boutiques!

Meet Pauline by joining us for a private talk and tour of her showroom on May 26th from 3-5pm.

- posted by Amy Abrams

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