Tamara Mellon’s inaugural store at Palisades Village in Los Angeles is a cozy and efficient jewel box, with 400 square feet of selling space. That makes the footwear designer’s second store, a 1,200-square-foot unit at 97 Wooster Street in Manhattan’s SoHo — three-times the size of the original — feel downright spacious.
A third, 1,000-square-foot location bows Friday at 245 Post Street in San Francisco. The direct-to-consumer brand is planning to open a fourth store, possibly in another neighborhood in New York or Los Angeles. Two more stores are scheduled to bow in 2020. The brand is eyeing Chicago and “there’s a couple of interesting markets in Texas,” said Jill Layfield, chief executive officer of Tamara Mellon.
It’s likely that we’ll open another store in New York this year,” Layfield said. “It’s by far our largest market. Our customer is not limited to SoHo. We have a very heavy penetration on the Upper East Side.”
Tamara Mellon has raised a total of $89 million in venture capital across three funding rounds, including its most recent Series C, which raised $50 million, was led by Centricus, whose portfolio includes Chalayan and Spring Place. The luxury footwear brand is using the investment to fund the retail expansion. New Enterprise Associates, whose portfolio includes Goop, ThirdLove and FabFitFun, led Mellon’s Series A and B rounds.
“When we were considering where to open a store, we looked at the location from a neighborhood perspective and the other brands that sit on the street,” Layfield added. “Wooster Street feels relevant and progressive, but elevated. We like the building and the light.”
While leasing retail space is a strategic decision, there is also a gut reaction. “Negotiating leases for prime real estate can be tricky. We’re definitely paying a premium for a prime location. When he had our mobile truck in New York in September, we did really well when we were in SoHo, which boosted our confidence that we were choosing the right location. It fits our pace and our aesthetic,” the ceo said.
To eliminate some of the typical points of friction in the shoe-buying process, Mellon organized the store like a well-stocked closet with every shoe style and size in stock displayed in full pairs.
A Drop Closet offers a preview of new styles that haven’t yet “dropped” on the web site. “They’re not available to buy and take away from the store, and they may not be available in every size, but the customer can look at the shoes, try them on and pre-order,” Mellon said. “We’ll have the same experience at our San Francisco store.”
Complementary Cobbler Concierge service will be available at the new store. All Tamara Mellon products are guaranteed with care for up to two years under Cobbler Concierge, including cleaning, minor scuffs, heel and tip replacement, and hardware replacement.
“We have a lot of first-time buyers. We also have a lot of returning consumers. We have a very healthy repeat rate — 45 percent of customers place a second order within the year,” Layfield said. Tamara Mellon introduces styles frequently for that reason. “The customer is excited, because we’re showing her new shoes every month.”