NEW YORK — “We don’t take ourselves too seriously,” said Houston-based accessory, footwear and jewelry designer Elaine Turner.
Sitting on one of the two pink sofas in her 1,500-square-foot Madison Avenue boutique, which opened on Black Friday, Turner puts a cheerful spin on her namesake company’s attitude and style. “It’s all about an aesthetic — it’s ladylike, Texas glam, always feminine, classic but updated and fun.”
Underneath the Texas charm, there’s a head for building the 13-year-old business. She’s a partner in Elaine Turner with her husband Jim and others who are in the process of raising money to roll out stores and broaden the offering. Currently, the fashion firm is roughly 80 percent owned by the Turner family; the remaining 20 percent is owned by a group from the asset management firm Fayez Sarofim & Co. and a few other individuals.
“We are still working on closing a $7 million round of growth equity funding,” said Jim Turner. “We are negotiating with a handful of firms, but there is one that is potentially leading the round. We plan to close at the end of January.”
The company operates seven retail stores and a Web site, wholesales to specialty stores including the Neiman Marcus Group and its Cusp contemporary department, and has a showroom at 320 Fifth Avenue here. Volume is approaching $10 million.
“The plan is to ramp up to 50 stores over the next five years and really ramp up our Web site,” Jim Turner added. “We have the platform, the team, the foundation and the confidence to open multiple stores. The product is ready. The store model is worked out. All the building blocks are in place, and we have some critical mass as well.”
The team includes a handful of executives from some competitors, including Monica Garza, director of stores, who came from Michael Kors, and Patty Wade, the chief information officer and a former Chico’s executive.
This season, jewelry was introduced to the collection — about 20 stockkeeping units including earrings, necklaces, bangles and cuffs. Sunglasses and a smattering of apparel that’s “selective and very item-y” such as caftans and swimwear are being considered, said Elaine Turner. “We really want to be a lifestyle brand but accessories-focused,” she added.
The collection fares best with clutches, hobos and shoulder bags, typically in raffia, leather and cork, with pink jacquard linings, bamboo accents and crown hardware. In footwear, the wedges, booties and riding boots are most popular. The brand is considered “accessible luxury,” priced $200 to $600. High-income women ages 35 to 45 who shop and travel a lot and are typically married with children are targeted with handbags that are equally suitable for either a soiree or the kids’ soccer game.
“She’s a crossover shopper,” Elaine Turner said, describing her customer.
The Madison Avenue boutique, on 82nd Street next to the Jonathan Adler store, “was a dream of ours. We met in New York,” said Jim, a former investment banker. “It took us two years of looking before we found the right space. It was kind of a diamond in the rough, owned by the estate of Alexander Radon and never updated. We wanted to be in a residential area, to create a neighborhood store.” That helps with their “client-driven” approach to selling, which involves efforts to get to know customers beyond just a few superficial details. Each store stages three to eight events a month, often involving breast cancer and children’s causes, and advertising is limited and mostly online. Word of mouth is what the company really counts on to bring in clients.
Six more shops are seen opening in 2014, in addition to the existing three Houston-area stores and the three others in San Antonio; Austin, Tex., and Nashville. The stores range in size from 1,500 to 2,100 square feet.
The Madison Avenue shop, like the others, is homey. It’s decorated with some of the same elements that are inside the Turners’ Houston home, like white oak floors. The store has other residential touches, such as the bamboo circular mirror, the pink cubbies and the Jean de Merry chandelier, which Elaine Turner bought for the store after seeing the one in Bergdorf Goodman’s restaurant.
When the Turners were redecorating their home, they papered the walls in raffia. That sparked an idea by Jim. Why not get Elaine to design a handbag in raffia? He was actually joking, but Elaine took it seriously. Thus, the “viola” Jackie bag was born, marking the beginning of the Turners’ collaborative fashion business and a signature look.
EXCLUSIVE: @tomford is opening its first-ever beauty store. The boutique, which opens November 20 in London’s Covent Gardens, was designed with the over-the-top glam Ford is known for. Read the full story on WWD.com, link in bio. #wwdbeauty #wwdnews (📷: Simon Wagner) #TomFordBeauty
New York-based DJ @harleyvnewton threw a party to celebrate the holiday collection of her dress and pajama line @hvn at the Ladurée Beverly Hills. It Girls @katebosworth, @rashidajones and more joined in on the fun, which included cocktails, croque monsieur sandwiches and a photo booth. #wwdfashion (📷: Owen Kolasinski/BFA.com)
For the holidays, @Burberry partnered with 20-year-old artist @blondeymccoy on a series of three outdoor murals in downtown Manhattan. The murals are McCoy’s interpretation of a Christmas eve party, the idea of charity and the spirit of family. His third mural, pictured here, is the most personal. The image depicts McCoy’s grandparents and father in London’s Trafalgar Square in the Seventies. “My work often features lots of sentimental objects.” #wwdeye
For spring 2018, designers applied bold colors and cartoonish motifs on everything from sneakers and belts to key chains. See all the top men’s accessories trends on WWD.com. #wwdtrends (📷: George Chinsee; Prop Styling by @rnasti; Market Editor: @luiscampuzano)
The @dior-sponsored @guggenheim international gala pre-party has a history of drawing cool-girl musical acts to serenade the crowd –– and last night was no exception. @haimtheband performed songs both new and old, and lured a star-studded audience with the likes of Rebecca Hall, Kate Mara, Mamoudou Athie and more. #wwdeye (📷: @lexieblacklock)
In a partnership between the @metopera and the @englishnationalopera, “Marnie” was born. The opera, with costumes sponsored by @mrporterlive, is an adaptation of the 1961 thriller by Winston Graham. Arianne Phillips, who created the costumes, is no rookie: She’s styled Madonna for her tours and created costumes for a myriad of films in the past. Read WWD’s interview with Phillips, where she talks about her inspiration for the opera’s costumes on WWD.com #wwdfashion
@barneysnyc took a different approach to their holiday windows this year. Instead of Christmas decor, Barneys tapped @thehaasbrothers to tell a story of positivity, gratitude and inclusivity via heartwarming silliness and humor. “It’s about kids and it’s about coming together and being family and loving each other,” said Simon Haas. #wwdfashion (📷: @joshuascottphoto)
Beauty influencer @kandeejohnson makes her foray into hair care with a collaboration with @ogx_beauty — making it the first time that OGX has teamed up for a product creation. The collab includes shampoos and conditioners in three scents. At 39 and a mom, Johnson is a different profile than the emerging social media stars, but is considered one of the pioneers of the digital beauty influencer world. Read WWD’s interview with her on wwd.com, including the strangest beauty product she’s ever tried #wwdbeauty