GOING FOR GUSTO
THE PROGRAM’S NEW DIRECTOR HAS BIG PLANS FOR PROMOTION.
Byline: HOLLY HABER
DALLAS — As the new director of Naturally Texas, Suzann Farren feels it’s time the marketing program made a bigger impact with consumers.
The campaign to promote cotton, wool, mohair and leather is funded by the Texas Department of Agriculture and has focused on supporting fashion and accessories firms that use those products.
“I think the manufacturer is aware of it, but the consumer is not,” said Farren, who last November succeeded Christie Scardino. “I’m going to turn this into an economic message as opposed to a fashion message. We are telling people to buy Texas fiber to keep Texas strong.”
Farren figures the best way to reach shoppers is through the media and retailers. She’s trying to put together advertorial spreads to run in magazines like Texas Monthly and D magazine. And she plans to pitch trunk shows and mall events to retailers that sell Texas fashions. “The whole concept is to create excitement and interest in buying Texas products,” Farren explained. “The stores will become partners, and we’ll help them with trunk shows and advertising. We’d like the stores to become members — it’s free for them.”
She hopes to enlist home furnishings suppliers as members since they use the fibers and leather.
The organization is an information clearinghouse for members and people interested in Texas products, like organic cotton. “They call us if they need contractors, wage and hour regulations, Internet information and sources for piece goods,” Farren noted. “Yesterday, I got a request in Japanese for information on organic cotton. We also get lots of inquiries from people who want to start their own business, or a spinning operation or a dyeing operation, so we field all those questions or refer them to [the TDA in] Austin.”
To keep the membership better informed, Farren plans to publish Naturally Texas’s first quarterly newsletter this month.
The program already has stimulated new business for many members. Last October and January, for example, Naturally Texas helped put together a showroom for members in the Atlanta Apparel Mart.
Lynn McKenna, owner and designer of Yazhi women’s sportswear in Houston, said she picked up six new accounts through the Atlanta showroom. “For us it was great to go under their umbrella,” McKenna pointed out. “They bent over backwards to help us, and I’ll go back in March. It takes a while to establish yourself as a viable entity. We’re trying out Atlanta to see if what we design and manufacture is salable in that area.”
Members have attracted new business by participating in the Naturally Texas fashion show at the International Apparel Mart. The next one is scheduled during market week, noon Friday, March 22, in the Great Hall.