KEEP ON TRUCKING
JEANETTE ENGEL IS IN IT FOR THE LONG HAUL.
Byline: Marcy Medina
Jeanette Engel knows from trends — especially their ephemeral nature. But while she will respond to the fickle demands of fashion, her relationship with resources is something else again.
This is one independent rep who says she will take a line only if she’s convinced she can sell it forever.
“I have seen fashion trends come and go and come back again,” said Engel, who runs her own showroom at CaliforniaMart. “We’re there for the long run. I’m not a shot-in-the-dark person.”
She is also one to keep the idea factory humming, however, making it a practice not to pick up lines that are too much alike. “When people start looking the same, I tell them to stop. There are enough knockoffs in the world,”she declared.
Engel could be considered an original. One of the mart’s longest-running occupants, she has been doing business there for 31 years, having started with a 500-square-foot room; she currently takes 2,000 square feet’s worth of space and has done so for the last seven years. Her showroom is home to eight lines, two of which she has been selling for 18 years. “I’ve always been the number-one rep for my lines. I keep trucking,” she said.
She said she has no intention of moving on, either. “The reality is the mart is suffering, but I’m here, and as long as I work here, I will make the best of it. I work like this is the only room on the floor.” Engel’s husband, Wayne, who handles the financial end of the business, estimated that the showroom will pull in volume of $5 million this year.
Each of her lines is local, allowing her to fill orders in as little as three weeks and thus keep her fingers on the pulse. “We’re there to be on trend, so buyers can turn the goods and make their money,” she explained.
One of her oldest lines, Faith Knight, is a collection of crystal beaded necklaces, bracelets and earrings ranging from $14 to $85 wholesale, is currently right on trend. The jewelry is available in every color, as well as in opaque beads and semiprecious stones.
Knight, who designed the choker and bib necklaces for years before they were popular, has also added some new pieces for spring, including crystal-rimmed reading glasses, Indian-inspired finger bracelets and lariats.
Another mainstay, Leatherock, is a collection of bags and belts, many embellished with stones, studs and chains. Items are priced from $15 to $85 wholesale for belts and $30 to $110 for bags.
Atenti is a young contemporary handbag line ranging from $4 to $35 wholesale. She described it as a trend-driven line, with novelty fabrications like flowers under mesh netting and plastic-covered vintage fabrics.
Girasole is a better line of silk patchwork bags and skirts. Price points range are from $45 to $85 wholesale.
Topsy Turvy is a junior line of reversible bags in trendy and novel fabrics like Astroturf and fake fur. Prices range from $10 to $24. The messenger, tote and handbags come in fabrications like floral prints with glitter and denim with studs.
Metal God, a small jewelry line Engel picked up last year, ranges in price from $5 to $68 wholesale.
Engel also carries two hat lines: Professional Tide, a line of crushable felt and straw hats priced at $8 wholesale that are popular in golf and swim stores, and Maria Elena de Estevez Ruz, couture-quality hats priced at $50-$125 wholesale.