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Some designers can't wait to share their press clippings with friends, family and social media followers. Outerwear designer J'Amy Tarr takes hers straight to her factories. "I want them to enjoy the success of what they've made. I've had a nice relationship with this group," she says.
Of course, the show-and-tell sessions also help when J'Amy runs out of her ever-popular jackets. And she keeps running out. Luckily, her factories prioritize her orders. It pays to be nice the people who bring your vision to life.
Last winter, J'Amy was selling her jackets online and at 7 on Locust in Mill Valley. Now, you can find her looks in eight Bay Area stores. How did she manage to expand so much in such a short amount of time? By taking the personal approach.
"I spent the spring meeting with stores, mostly directly, through personal outreach or email," J'Amy explains. "It's hard to get in front of these stores, so I tried walking in wearing my jacket. I was basically the marketing campaign. I would start a conversation with the owner or buyer, and they would ask where I got my jacket."
That, it seems, is how a deal gets done.
While J'Amy has sent lookbooks to stores in New York and Colorado and tried her hand at trade shows, she tells Racked that she prefers more intimate meetings. It's consistent with the way she conducts her business. J'Amy likes having a connection both with stores and her customers. For her, it's all about building trust and relationships, and seeing where they go.
Heading into her fourth season helming her own label, J'Amy has a firm grasp on what her customer wants, and she's looking for ways to experiment with her designs. "I've had this reaction that my jackets are timeless. I'll be putting new styles out next year—but this year, I'm experimenting with new textures and palettes." That includes swapping her beloved wools for lighter textiles to keep her clients happy when the temperatures rise.
For spring and summer, J'Amy's willingness to think outside the box yielded a new bestseller, the lace bomber jacket. "The lace bomber is interesting because it fit this hole in my offering. I had a repeat customer come in, and she really wanted to buy something; but it was so hot, she couldn't think about it." Determined to be more than just a fall favorite, she created a lightweight lace bomber, which she describes as lined but breathable. J'Amy admits, "It's a little bit girlie for me, but people are crazy about the pink."
Almost a year after we first met the designer, she's still committed to growing her brand slowly, through word of mouth and strategic marketing. Eventually, however, you might be able to walk into a J'Amy Tarr boutique. "I think it would be a lovely thing to do at some point, but it's definitely a couple years off."