Contracted as a designer, merchandiser and stylist to create accessory fixtures, showcases and props. Responsible for the merchandising of floor ready goods and elevating the brand to align with the new store projection.
Three stores were completed in less than 6 weeks, including design and production of fixtures, furniture and mannequins, as well as store opening merchandising and all floor styling.
Davids Bridal Entry Zone
Previous to the work illustrated, David's Bridal lacked a draw to welcome customers into the store. The entry zone was created to animate the experience, and engage the customer's senses.
Merchandising improvements to the existing David's Bridal location, included an accessory distortion. Forms, displayers, packaging and props were curated and created to elevate the presentation of accessories to include jewelry, hair accessories, veils, handbags and shoes.
David's Bridal Runway
Merchandising included a distortion to the top brands offered by David's Bridal. Accessories were integrated within departments, and a forms runway and inventory were positioned to showcase emerging designs and new styles.
Designer Cake Displayers
Couture display cakes were designed and created to showcase accessories and romance the product within zones. Storytelling was a key component to the elevation project at David's Bridal.
Express, Women's and Men's Apparel
Oversaw the planning, allocation and merchandising for over 1000 stores, new store openings and monthly floor changes.
Designed and procured fixtures and props to align with company brand initiatives.
Authored all visual operations and brand standards to be utilized by the organization.
Worked with merchant, marketing and design teams to conceptualize seasonal visual concepts, window displays and positioning to align with the business strategies.
Participated in the conceptualization and development of new business and department launches to increase shareholder value.
Ready to Wear Departmentalization
Express launched the Design Studio concept and remodel in 2001 in order to provide sophisticated choices for the consumer. This departure from a previous focus of "fast fashion" required an entire company shift in the way goods were designed, acquired and presented. As well, a new internal process was devised to create collaborative relationships throughout the process from concept to delivery.
Express Design Studio Ready to Wear
Design Studio Pant Shop Concept Illustration
The collaboration process of a season was approximately 14 months beginning with a creative meeting comprised of designers, marketers and fiscal and functional partners.
Following an initial concept meeting, Creative Marketing and Visual teams worked on concept presentations while our design and merchant partners worked on narrowing the offerings to create collections.
Mock sets led by the Marketing and Visual teams allowed for early adoption of merchandising concepts, and cost leveraging of props to maximize our annual budgets.
Design Studio Forms Runway
Fixture Distortion to Key Concept
Holiday Concept Illustration
Back to School Men's and Women's Denim Launch
The Denim business was approximately 30% of the total volume and a key category requiring visual attention and the romancing of product.
Extensive propping, fixtures, marketing POS and training tools were developed specific to this category. In our Dual Gender stores, the denim room was the liaison between the men's shopping experience and the women's shopping experience.
Navigation in both denim and pant distortions was key to the success of these departments.
Upper Display for Denim Product Distortion
Express Lingerie Concept Launch
During my tenure with Express, several businesses launched from small tests and task forces of key contributors.
Bath and Body Works originated as a 3 tiered table within the Express Stores. A men's collection became Structure, and then eventually returned as Express Mens. Express Lingerie grew from a small table presentation and 12 store test, to a full chain department category, that added incremental volume to the bottom line.
Express Men's Merchandising and Styling
Express Compagnie Internationale
An oldie, but a goodie. My first World Class store. 10,000 square feet of retail selling space and an entire block of window responsibility.
Homage, Men's and Women's Apparel and Accessories Brand
Contracted as project manager, environmental designer and visual stylist to curate and design all fixtures and props, oversee construction build out and merchandise floor ready goods for multiple locations.
Homage, Easton Town Center
Fixtures were curated, as well as created by a local woodsmith and metal worker. Basketball court flooring was up-cycled to become a wall texture, as well as integrated into the fixture designs. Antique and vintage signage and props were curated and displayed to aid in the storytelling of the brand.
Cabinets were custom created to showcase styles, as well as manage inventory requirements. The cabinet concept was inspired by locker rooms and trophy cases to aid in the storytelling of the brand identity.
Graphics and Marketing
Large scale graphics and visual texture were an important part of the interior merchandising. Engaging elements and merchandising "discovery" ensured an interaction with guests who aided the marketing of the brand through social media platforms.
Balancing the merchandising of product with the inventory requirements was an important piece of the puzzle for this former E-Commerce only brand. Inventory Management was well planned during the conceptualizing of the store design to ensure profitability.
Athleta, Women's Performance and Athleisure
Hired as a visual leader for the Manhattan flagship stores, my primary responsibility was to create an urban, city-appropriate store environment.
Oversaw the planning and merchandising for key Flagship locations.
Responsible for the training and education of visual merchandising for the store teams.
Worked with the merchant, marketing and design teams to conceptualize visual concepts, window displays and positioning to align with the business strategies.
Collaborated with Public Relations teams on Press Previews and Special Events.
Athleta Lincoln Road
The Flagship program expanded from NYC to select key locations, including Lincoln Road, South Beach, FL. Each flagship location was customized for the local community and their fashion preferences, while maintaining the integrity of the brand.
Merchandising cohesion is imperative to navigating any store environment. Athleta floor moves were updated each month, to correspond with new product deliveries, as well as seasonal launches. The pant fit wall was a key anchor in the merchandising of the stores, with fashion by function surrounding the destination. Merchandising included the use of large scale graphics, forms, a variety of display techniques and storytelling props.
Responsible for business creation, long-term strategy, merchandise selection and procurement, strategic market planning, business development, visual merchandising, window displays, sales forecasting, pricing, training and personnel management.
Responsible leader overseeing financing, driving new concept and business, marketing creativity and integrity and vendor collaboration.
· Identified key trends and emerging products to align with strategic seasonal line plans.
· Sourced, positioned and marketed products, aligned to brand initiatives and margin requirements.
· Analyzed key departments then implemented a success program for sub-branding to grow the total business.
· Sourced vendors through a variety of trade shows, art communities and organic retail searches.
· Created all pricing structure and merchandising solutions for 3000+ SKU business.
· Worked with wholesale designers and manufacturers to create exclusive company products.
Creative Brand Marketing
· Originated a compelling lifestyle brand, based on self-identified market opportunity.
· Directed all sales and marketing initiatives including strategic consumer programs utilizing social media, e-commerce, online messaging, blog, email and direct mail.
· Designed and directed collierwest.com from a navigational site to an e-commerce site with 1000+ products.
· Established national brand recognition through creative marketing reach and public relations.
Leadership and Communication
· Developed financial plans and expense budgets with a focus on increasing revenue, margin and profit.
· Hired, supervised, educated and developed a staff of full and part time employees and consultants.
· Called on all classes of trade, including wholesale, retail, manufacturing and design.
· Grew brand from 900SF single Ohio location to prime retail destination in New York, including e-commerce.
Authored all operations and brand standards to ensure brand consistency.
Collier West Textiles
Collier West provided multiple category selections from tabletop to gift to jewelry to textiles. Custom orders and specialization played an important role in the brand identity and required a high level of customer service and special order expertise.
Collier West proudly showcased merchandise created and crafted by artisans. I took pride in curating goods from both local and international purveyors who had a passion for authentic craftsmanship. An attention to detail and visual stimulation allowed elevated price points, due to the synergy of a shop well maintained, luxurious unique goods and one of a kind finds.
Bath, fragrance and personal care items assisted in the storytelling of luxurious textures and pampering. Collier West was a transformational retailer that delivered experiential retail through all channels.
Product selection was a key component to the success of the brand. One of a kind products were acquired, giving a competitive edge to the brand compared to adjacent retailers.
Sourcing came from auctions, flea markets, discovered artists, designer collaborations, research and travel.
Collier West Brooklyn
After 7 years as the number one retailer in Columbus Ohio, Collier West relocated to Brooklyn, NY. The location identified, was again, an up and coming neighborhood, continuing Collier West as a pioneer in establishing a retail foundation as an "early adopter". A tendency towards identifying trends prior to mass consumption, is a skill set that I have been able to hon and utilize in my career success.
Collier West Press
Due to extensive organic PR efforts, Collier West was recognized by several local, national and international media channels.
NYTimes Magazine Elle Decor Time Out New York Lucky Magazine Midwest Living Columbus Monthly
A strength of Collier West was the ability to maintain the local roots, and high-touch authenticity of a "mom & pop" boutique, but also to present high quality materials and campaigns, as learned from my extensive corporate years. Creative marketing campaigns were delivered each month and involved product displays and selection, window presentations, social media support and CRM.
Email Blast Sample
Collaborating with a graphic designer, I created a strong brand identity to ensure that Collier West was not just a store, but rather a brand. Memorable and enticing campaigns drove traffic to the store, utilizing direct mail, email, social media platforms and traditional advertising methods.
Collier West Website
Prior to the online boom and simple template website options, I launched an e-commerce site that captured the look and the feel of the store. Powered by Magento, I was responsible for the design, copy, photography, inventory management and SEO related to the website.
Strategically, Collier West opted to manage inventory and maintain margin by hosting sale 2x/year, in an offsite location that became locally recognized as the CW FLEA. This strategy enabled CW to lead demand and immediacy, protect profits and also drive traffic to our annual event.
The FLEA was later adopted by another colleague and pioneer and continued as an annual event in Columbus, Ohio, after the CW brand moved to New York.
CW Operational Manual
A 128 page operations manual was created to ensure consistency and development of store associates. The manual included customer service training, POS training, opening and closing procedures, brand standards and visual marketing data.
Canvas Market, Lake Nona, FL
Contracted as visual lead, project manager and designer to curate fixturing and props, collaborate on construction build-out, purchase, curate and merchandise floor ready goods.
Responsible for teaching and authoring the merchandising and operational standards to include signage, ticketing, POS integration and brand standards.
Canvas Market Cafe and Canvas Market Goods is a lifestyle restaurant and retail space located in the newly developed Lake Nona community by Tavistock Development Group.
My primary responsibility was to create a brick and mortar destination for the residents of the community to eat, shop and live.
The target consumer ranged from ages 22 - 72, and a variety of demographics, from student to family to retiree.
A variety of textures were applied to the store for both POS and consumer experience. Working with the graphics team, color, font and material was determined to compliment the adjacent Canvas restaurant.
New to product retail, an integrated system had to be developed and taught to the staff. Inventory management, pricing, ticketing, margin and sales education were all provided through one on one training as well as workshops to ready the team for opening.
A variety of items were curated from new product vendors as well as sourced as vintage goods. Local, authentic and relevant were all necessary to the product mix, at a variety of price points. Due to the nature of the related cafe experience, the goods were merchandised and selected for ease of shopping and instant accessibility.
The Canvas experience integrated moments of authentic craftsmanship, from hand lettered signage to ink stamped bags and tags.
Working with the public relations team, staging and styling for the website and launch materials were orchestrated prior to opening. Assisting the marketing team with the understanding of the product offerings, customer experience, voice and location navigation were critical to the strong brand identity for this Lake Nona destination.
DSW Designer Shoe Warehouse
DSW, Footwear and Accessories Contracted on multiple occasions as a stylist and visual merchandising consultant to reposition and "animate" the brand.
The Easton Town Center location served as a Flagship location for authoring elevated display techniques.
Window presentation beyond POS signage had not previously been demonstrated to showcase product and draw customer traffic.
DSW Flagship Windows
The Shoe Closet concept was photographed at the Easton Flagship and later used for distribution to all shareholders in the annual report document.
Shoe Closet by Suzi West
Inspired by a photograph of Mariah Carey's shoe closet, I developed a large scale window accessory that showcased footwear by fashion style. Trompe L'oeil graphics and clear shelves, allowed the product to be hero, while allowing whimsy and storytelling to enhance the exterior facade.
Aeropostale, Men's and Women's Apparel Brand Live Love Dream, Junior's Casual Fashion
Contracted as a stylist and merchant to curate fixtures and props, merchandise floor ready goods and assist in "animating the brand" for Flagship location in Times Square, NY.
The project was completed in less than 4 weeks, including procurement of vintage and antique details, as well as store opening merchandising and on floor styling.
AERO Souvenir Shop
Nearly adjacent to 42nd street and the thick of tourism in New York, the first floor of the Aeropostale flagship had an architectural element that allowed the retailer to partition the area for extended hours and to serve as a stop and shop for tourists from around the globe.
Merchandising of the number one item, the AERO graphic tee, created an opportunity of advertising similar to the New York paraphernalia stores that populate the area.
Times Square SoHo Room
Previous to this flagship location, men's and women's fashion had not been integrated into a shopping experience. As well, merchandising decisions were driven by price, rather than outfitting.
The merchandising of the SoHo room required the authoring of a new approach to signage, as well as associate training.
Men's Casual Displays
Women's Casual Displays
Live Love Dream
LLD began as an interior department within the Aeropostale stores and eventually grew to become a free standing store. Requiring a different approach to merchandising and storytelling, I was contracted again as stylist and curator to animate the brand.
Styling and Propping
Prop sourcing and styling for both the upper displays, vignettes and wrap desk area were required by the brand to create the look and feel of a "dorm room".
Bath and Body Works
Bath and Body Works, Fragrance and Personal Care
Contracted as a designer, merchandiser and stylist. Responsible for the merchandising of floor ready goods and brand elevation to align with the new store projection and prestige openings.
Worked with Store Design and Construction, Marketing and Operations on logistics and inventory management to create a synergistic presentation that met capacity needs to drive volume for key seasons.
Bath and Body Works navigation is primarily based on fragrance choices and a distortion to the top selling scents. Each program is supported by product layering, giving the consumer a variety of options to wear their favorite scent.
Adjacent merchandising and fixture compression guides the customer through the store and entices him/her to select multiple items for bath and home.
BBW Holiday Entry Zone
Propping and styling, coupled with POS requirements and inventory management visually communicated abundance, as well as drove incremental sales through layering of adjacent products and accessories.
Portfolio work includes home staging for real estate marketing, event production for corporate pubic relations and both commercial and residential interior design.
Press: Huffington Post Lucky Magazine The Columbus Dispatch Elle Decor Sweet, Japan Housetrends Time Out New York Columbus Monthly Spaces TV VMSD