ROSANNE’S ON A ROLL
HOMETOWN GIRL ROSANNE KARMES IS EXPANDING HER ACCESSORIES EMPIRE AT THE MART.
Byline: Deirdre Mendoza
When a showroom in the CaliforniaMart was vacated earlier this year after the passing of accessories rep Carrie Hodes, Rosanne Karmes of Le Trend was approached by the Mart to open what would be her 16-year-old company’s third showroom in the building.
Karmes leaped at the opportunity to expand her presence at the Mart, and last June she moved into the space, which stocks high-end jewelry and is called Le Trend Couture. Karmes said she also felt proud inheriting the room from Hodes, a legend in accessories industry circles.
Because of the addition, the company’s total square footage at the Mart increased to 2,600 square feet. The company also has a showroom in the San Francisco Gift Mart.
“I knew this would be a return to fine jewelry and would take me to another step,” said Karmes. “Now I have a sushi-style jewelry bar and I can work with diamonds, gold and the highest-quality watches.”
According to Karmes, the new room presents the opportunity to take her sales from $5 million annually to $8 million by the end of 2003 because of its luxe offerings and the expected increase in clientele.
The company’s fine jewelry offerings, available at the new Le Trend Couture showroom include gold and silver pieces by Los Angeles-based Orly Baruch and 14-karat gold wishbone necklaces by Heather Reilly Himstra.
The offerings at the two Le Trend showrooms include handbags by Sarah Shaw, 2 Old Bags, Santi for Pierre Urbach, Flavio Olivera, Angela Leavitt, Kiki Pearl Summer Tompkins, and Mimco from Australia. Her fashion and costume jewelry is led by Tommassini, Argento Vivo and Raps by Amireh. Belts resources include Canada’s Suzi Rohr and Retro, the latter being one of the first to jump-start the oval buckle trend.
“What I love is when I spend an entire day with one of my accounts and they buy every line in my room,” said Karmes. “We order in lunch, review every line, and I leave feeling we’ve really accomplished something.”
Some of her longtime accounts know her to be on target when it comes to capturing trends, and all cite her tenacity as her biggest asset.
“I remember she brought me this watch line, Locman, from Italy, and I said, ‘This is great, but it’s too expensive at $2,500 for my store,”‘ said Dottie Channin, owner of the three-unit accessories retailer Ice Accessories, which has stores in Las Vegas; Costa Mesa, Calif., and in the Brentwood section of Los Angeles — as well as Sparkle, located in Fred Segal Santa Monica.
“Roseanne asked me to test it, and I resisted, but finally I said ‘okay.’ Then she told me, ‘don’t just test it, take 12 for all of your stores. I did, they sold and now I’m reordering,” said Channin.
Karmes, who grew up in West Hollywood , entered the accessories business after studying business for two years at a community college.
The daughter of Holocaust survivors, Karmes landed a job at Marvel Jewelry, one of Los Angeles’s best-known manufacturers and retailers of fine jewelry. Over a period of six years at the company, Karmes learned all aspects of the trade.
She decided to move on, and launched Le Trend in 1985.
“The hardest thing is to make the first sale, said Karmes, summing up her experience in the accessories business. “If everything is right with a line, I can take my people to new heights — ones they never imagined.”