DALLAS — A pop-up store at NorthPark Center here is just the beginning for Étoile Star, a three-year-old line of luxury totes and bags.
Founder Annye Grande plans to open a permanent store at the Grand Canal Shoppes in Las Vegas in February and is negotiating for pop-ups in New York and Los Angeles next fall. Each shop may become permanent.
“Our strategy is to test the market and then move quickly to gain brand equity and recognition,” Grande said. “The long-term vision is to go into accessories and shoes and then apparel and really grow a lifestyle brand. Right now our hero products are the totes.”
She envisions opening five units in 2021.
“The Dallas store will help us craft our model, but every store is going to be adapted locally,” Grande said.
The collection is tight — a medium tote, a large tote, a backpack and bucket bag in 40 color combinations. They are made in New York and Los Angeles of Italian materials.
Fully lined in matching suede, they retail for $325 for the bucket, $495 for the medium tote or backpack and $595 for the large tote. An exception is a large python tote at $995.
Grande and her family relocated from Montreal to the Dallas suburb of Southlake to launch the company.
The French Canadian previously worked for 23 years in wholesale sales for Anne Klein, Simone Perele, Hanro and Kasper. She considers Debra Margles, president of Michael Kors Canada, her mentor.
“My husband and I knew we had to move to the U.S. if we wanted to start our own brand,” Grande said.
The couple chose Dallas because Grande liked it during her visits to trade shows at Fashion Industry Gallery. Texas’ lack of state corporate and income taxes was another big factor.
The bulk of Étoile Star’s sales are through specialty stores, including Stanley Korshak, Tootsies and Bandier. Revenue from wholesale and direct business will be close to $2 million this year and is expected to hit $3.9 million in 2020, Grande said.
She got the idea for the tote brand when she had trouble finding one for her business travels.
“I couldn’t believe that I couldn’t find a bag where I could fit everything in at that sweet price point,” she said.
Grande feels that details set her bags apart. The top zipper is separated so the bag can open wide, and the top flap has a magnetic closure. In addition, the top leather trim can be secured into the bag so that the tote becomes an open carryall. The closure is patented.
Each bag comes with a wide leather strap and a matching detachable clutch that can be hung from the strap and worn as a crossbody bag. She also offers two optional novelty straps — a fringed style and one that’s stamped with gold stars.