HEADING TO DALLAS: Frances Valentine intends to open a pop-up store in Dallas by year-end, and chief executive officer Elyce Arons began outreach on Monday with lunch for 20 women at Grange Hall, followed by a private home trunk show on Tuesday.
Guests included Michelle Nussbaumer, Cindy Schwartz, Capera Ryan and Chandra North Blaylock.
“We’re still small and haven’t been around very long, so we don’t have a lot of brand awareness,” explained Arons, who launched the label in 2015 with the late Kate Spade and her husband Andy, and Paola Venturi.
Yet Dallas is one of the brand’s “major” e-commerce markets and has been on her radar for a while, she noted.
“Last summer we opened a pop-up store in Sag Harbor, which we still have and are keeping indefinitely, and we had so many people come into the store and say, ‘You’ve got to be in Dallas,’” Arons explained.
It’s no secret that Dallas women are fond of bright colors and feminine style, which are hallmarks of Frances Valentine. Bestsellers at the trunk show were $695 linen caftans vividly embroidered with peacocks and Mexican-inspired motifs.
Arons was scouting for a space in Dallas’ hottest upscale retail spots –– Highland Park Village, NorthPark Center, the Plaza at Preston Center and Knox District neighborhood.
Business is good, she confirmed.
“We’ve all been wearing about three hats each with store openings,” she said, noting there are also shops on Madison Avenue in New York and in Palm Beach, Fla., and a likely destination is Charleston, S.C.
“Our online business doubled in 2019 over 2018, and we plan to do that again in 2020,” she said. “Eighty percent of the business is e-commerce, and the balance is between stores and wholesale, so we’d like to expand all of them because I think they’re all important.”
The company remains held by the founders, and Arons supervises design with a team of three. She is particularly responsible for retro inspirations, which are a brand signature.
Frances Valentine opened with shoes and bags, expanded into clothing and jewelry and will soon introduce table linens decorated with the Otomi-inspired embroidery on its caftans.
This was the first Frances Valentine trunk show that Arons has done without Kate Spade, who died in 2018. “I miss her every day, but I think she would be thrilled with what we are doing,” she reflected. “When we’re working on stuff I think, would she like it? Is it the right color of green, of red? And I’m probably a lot more skeptical because I think, what would she think?”