A Brand by Any Other Name… Would be a Commodity
I have been preaching for years to recognize the difference between a “brand” and a “commodity.” I see both at every trade show. Walk down any aisle and look at the signage, photography, product display and the professional demeanor of the sales team. Brands promote a certain image in every detail. Commodities are there to “just sell dresses, shoes, shirts, pants or other ‘kinda-like-them toos’”. The brands are busy writing orders. One reason is that brands make sure they have appointments before they arrive at a trade event. Now more than ever, retailers put their trust in established brand names. Some brands are a top-of-mind label for both retailers and consumers. In the children’s business, to stay a success the manufacturer first needs to be recognized as a worthy brand by the buyers.
At the ENK Children’s Club for Spring 2012, brands once again were the show stoppers. I was especially interested to see the re-launch of two brands that had been among my favorites in the past, but had dimmed their spotlight for a while –– Sweet Potatoes and Trish Scully. I was equally surprised by a re-imagined, renamed brand in the children’s protective UV eyewear category that has gone from what I had once perceived as a commodity to an impressive, distinctive brand name with a revitalized quality image and vibe –– Real Kids Shades (RKS).
Sweet Potatoes is Back on the Brand-Name Menu
The difference is that the Northern California-based icon all but stopped promoting itself. Deciding to focus its attention and marketing budget on retailer relations and co-op programs; advertising, corporate showrooms, trade show exhibitions, luxury photo sessions and perennial design award nominations ended. The owners seemed content to go from top-of-brand status to acceptance of the status quo. Business as usual was good enough, and is certainly a viable option for such companies that have achieved substantial nationwide retail distribution.
However, as Anna and Ginny stepped away from the day-to-day operations in favor of focusing on the designs of the lines, Sweet Potatoes Inc. was acquired by a “silent sister” company, Hybrid Apparel, and moved to new headquarters in Emeryville. Hybrid recognized that Sweet Potatoes was an equity name that had potential to shine brighter and they acquired the company to be their “better boutique brand.” They retained the design, production and pattern making team that built the look and feel of the labels, along with Sylver Corkins who was the mash-up marketing, sales and merchandising maven of the company for several decades.
The alliance formed by the two “independently together” companies has retained the talent and team that retailers have always trusted as Sweet Potatoes, but has stepped up marketing and introduced Spring 2012 collections with a revitalized launch at ENK Children’s Club. With representation in Atlanta and New York City, SP is welcomed by new specialty retailers, as well as with cheers from customers that favored the taste of Sweet Potatoes for decades. Welcome back to the brand wagon, and continued sweet success!
See the 2012 Swim and Spring brands at www.sweetpotatoesinc.com or call Krista Pasko, 510-710-8103.
Trish Scully Child is Reborn
The only change that looked a bit different was the addition of “Child” to re-launch as Trish Scully Child. Trish has been designing for over 10 years, and is excited to be back in the business of girls’ fashion with a refocused view of what matters today. She said, “The brand is now better priced for the economic needs of specialty retailers and their customers, but with distinctive finishing touches and detailing that buyers remembered and still want.”
Trish Scully Child’s Spring 2012 line, branded as “Everyday Glamour for Girls,” includes crocheted tops, lace accents, interesting fabrics and fashion-forward designs, colors, prints and fabrics. Collections (sizes newborn to 6X) with a European-inspired casual charm and beauty include De Ja Bleu featuring shorts, tanks, tee dress, neckline dress. Blouse, floral pleated skirt and blazer retail from $28 to $46. Other coordinated themes include Spring Damask, Regatta, Cotton Candy and Downhome Daisy. The fashion attracts customers. The prices will make retailers love Trish Scully Child more than ever.
Trish Scullly Child’s attention to customer satisfaction is further emphasized in the job title of her business partner, Jason White –– VP Business Relations.
The second time around really can be more beautiful. To begin or renew your retail relationship with Trish Scully, visit www.trishscullychild.com or call 800-403-5054.
After 10 Years, Real Kids Shades is Brand New
I remember My First Shades. For years I’d see their multi-line rep at ENK in a phone-booth sized display with the sunglasses sharing space with other summertime, seasonal wannamakeits. If I did not think of them as a contender, retailers probably did not take much notice either. Almost like Clark Kent emerging as Superman, MFS emerged from that booth as RKS (Real Kids Shades) to now occupy a much larger trade show display, with literally eye-catching, beautifully photographed and merchandised arrangements in a large, attractive, trade show exhibit that makes RKS look like a top-brand player… after all these years!
As a master class in branding, RKS is a marketing success story. With Lori Canavan and Lisa Medora as the corporate faces behind the Shades, both bring a well-defined consistency, creativity, professionalism and focus for continued growth to the company. No longer known as just shades for babies, RKS has expanded its collections to satisfy the needs of newborns through pre-teens. Fashionable and functional styles include branded collections for girls and boys through a range of ages: My First Shades, Flex, Xtreme Element, Xtreme Sport, Racer, Glide, Xtreme Chill and Xtreme Convertible.
RKS is also active in educating retailers and families about the year-round importance of wearing sunglasses and overall sun safety through its Safe Eyes Everyday program.
For more information about how Real Kids Shades provides value and safety through every season, go to www.realkidsshades.com or call 978-371-2900.