It will take more than a pandemic to end the headband trend, as accessories designer and expanding brand Lele Sadoughi saw sales of the accessory climb over the last year.
Aided in part by a loyal fanbase of collectors (there’s a Facebook group of hundreds of women dedicated to Lele Sadoughi headbands), a recent collection of birthstone-themed headbands priced at $195 sold out in a day. More than 500 sold in their first 30 minutes online.
“Overall, we had a record year in 2020,” Sadoughi said. She noted the popularity of face masks, for obvious reasons, as well as chains for sun and eyeglasses that people have started to use as mask holders, along with continuing strength in sales of her costume jewelry and, of course, headbands.
“It all lends well to the Zoom environment COVID-19 created,” she said. “You can keep your outfit the same and really elevate it with accessories.”
Although wholesale did take a hit from the pandemic, Sadoughi’s sales at wholesale actually ended up flat year-over-year, a feat considering non-essential retail across much of the country closed for several weeks in the early days of the coronavirus last year and has struggled with foot traffic since. But the business overall has shifted to be more direct-to-consumer, which now accounts for about 75 percent of sales, compared to about 50 percent pre-pandemic.
Now the brand, which has never taken outside investment, is going deeper into self-reliance. The first Lele Sadoughi store is set to open in mid-May in Dallas, Sadoughi’s hometown, in the Highland Park Village luxury shopping strip. While Sadoughi is based in New York City, her biggest sales market, she said sales in Texas “rival” those in New York and being “invited” by the owners of the property to take up a boutique space that had become available was something she couldn’t turn down.
“Retail was definitely on my radar in the next two years and, ironically, I’d looked at a spot last February, right before COVID-19 hit, but that was put on hold luckily,” Sadoughi said.
The new store won’t open for a few more weeks, but Sadoughi is looking forward to the “jewel box” space being the first time her products will be showcased together in a retail location, instead of different sections based on use, like in a department store.
And Sadoughi is already thinking of more retail in the years ahead, with somewhere between five to eight stores possible in the next two to three years, including in New York and Florida. She’s taken her time to get to this point of expansion, managing to be profitable every year of her business because, according to her, she hasn’t rushed growth. But “now is the time,” she said.
“This is the first part of an expansion,” Sadoughi added, “and we are devoted to expanding.”
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