DESIGNING DIVAS

Byline: Louise Barr

SHE’S GOT PERSONALITY
Accessories
Pursenality With Sole, Atlanta
Although handbags were the store’s original focus, the addition of shoes has been so strong at this Atlanta accessories store, the name “Pursenality” is gradually being changed to “Pursenality with Sole.”
Jackie Miklas, a former physical therapist and interior decorator, opened Pursenality in 1997 in Sandy Springs, a suburb of Atlanta. With husband Tom on board to help with a second store, Pursenality expanded last year with a new 1,000-square-foot store in Duluth/Alpharetta, a northern suburb of Atlanta.
The new location’s affluent clientele, has brought strong additional sales, said Miklas. Last month, the original store moved to a new 1,600-square-foot location in The Springs, a nearby strip shopping center. The store is surrounded by strong tenants, such as next door neighbor Potpourri, a women’s clothing shop that also received a DIVA award this year.
Both stores target a woman 35-65 years old, who “loves fashion and things that aren’t offered in department stores,” said Miklas.
Donald J. Pliner bags, launched at her store with the help of company rep Les Ehrenberg, did so well, Miklas was inspired to add the shoe line.
In addition to Donald J. Pliner, Pursenality with Sole carries around 60 handbag lines, including Monsac, Brahmin, Maya, Jane Yoo, Silver Blue and Hobo. Prices range from $50 to $500. Fifteen shoe lines, priced from $100-$400, include Anne Klein, Via Spiga, Stuart Weitzman and Giuseppe Zanotti.
For fall, handbag trends include camel, herringbone, houndstooth, leather and suede and bags with cell phone compartments, as well as those with a top zipper.
In shoes, the boot craze, in all lengths and silhouettes, continues. Low-heel equestrian and camel colors have been especially strong. For spring, Miklas bought black and white, pretty pastels and nautical themes. The big color will be acid green, she said.
With a clientele split between career and non-working women, Miklas carries a wide variety of looks, and brings in constant newness. She scours markets, including Atlanta five times a year, along with Dallas, New York, and Las Vegas, for special items from unique lines such as Maya, Angela Frascone and Inder Bedi.
Miklas designed both stores’ bright interiors. The yellow Sandy Springs shop and the turquoise Duluth store, reflect an open, airy, almost Floridian look. The Duluth location has furniture upholstered with a Victorian print of handbags and shoes, and whitewashed country French pieces with chrome accents. The Sandy Springs location is more contemporary and whimsical, incorporating Formica in shades such as purple and khaki green.
Jackie and her husband compromise on merchandising strategy. Tom Miklas, who previously ran a children’s manufacturing and retail firm, prefers a strict vendor and color breakdown similar to department stores. Jackie often prefers to organize by color, believing customers know exactly what shade shoe or bag they plan to purchase. They now use a bit of both strategies when merchandising the shops.
As a specialty store, Pursenality with Sole can cater to specific customer needs. Many times, customers ask her to take fabric swatches to market, to find a matching pair of shoes.
Between the two stores, annual sales top $1 million.