Click to join WriterCircle
QUOTATION: People often say that, in a democracy, decisions are made by a majority of the people. Of course, that is not true. Decisions are made by a majority of those who make themselves heard and who vote - a very different thing. - Walter H. Judd
2004-08-12 - 1:36 p.m.
The Color Connection: From a Retailer’s Perspective
Not able to find adequate time to really immerse myself in writing while working in Davis, I took my computer to our Ashland home for an extended “vacation” – a few weeks alone in January and February of 1985, coming back with an unedited draft. Jeanne Larsen painstakingly read and proofread the manuscript, as did Ed’s mother, Florence, and his aunt, Harriet. All were most helpful in editing out all of those niggling errors.
Irene Kennedy pored through magazines, looking for samples of photos and illustrations to give to JoAnn Stabb of the Design Department at University of California-Davis, who agreed to illustrate the book. Her sketches would come back and we would then critique them for hair styles, facial characteristics, and all of the things that go into making up the design of each of the seasonal types so that the book would reflect the obvious differences that exist in the real world. Aware that some of the color books already seemed dated, we also tried to create a book with classic designs so that it would be as timeless as possible.
Tom Deininger, a local photographer who had been taking photos for my advertising in Sacramento Magazine since Tarika began, agreed to photograph models for the book. We carefully went through our customer list, searching for people who were typical of the various seasonal types. In the process, I discovered how difficult it really is to attribute categorically the types, which led me to better describe the “connections” with a graphic chart, which was calligraphied by Marilyn Judson (The Color Connection, p. 34).
“Just as the four seasons are on a continuum I like to think of the seasonal harmony types on a continuum. Think of the seasons – from the late autumn/early winter when there are still a few autumn leaves around and the weather can’t quite decide what it’s going to do; mid-winter alternating between persistent gray fog or rainy days to crisp snowy days that seem to encompass all the shades between white and block with very little color, perhaps a few red berries….”
This was a way for me to legitimatize the variations found among the people labeled “winter” by color analysts – people who had variations in their coloring and their visual design. I, for instance, had been called a “winter” by all but one of the color analysts, with Suzanne calling me an “onyx winter,” which in my context would probably be a winter converging onto autumn. This would explain my love for ethnic clothing and the texture of handwovens, while retaining the personality characteristics of the winter type.
With a department store opened in the new “Pig” marketplace scheduled to open and this just following the Woodland Mall expansion, I feared the worst. About this time Jeff’s Camera, which had opened when I had opened Tarika, closed their doors, Davisville Travel our next-door neighbor decided to move into their space and expand. This left an opening for an addition to my store if only we could cut through an archway. This turned out to be architecturally possible with only an arch and a step or a ramp to the somewhat higher elevation. In anticipation of a downturn in business unless I did something dramatic, I decided to double the space and focus on the theme of my book and the current color analysis fad. In fact, one of the chapters in the book is entitled: Fad, Fact, or Fiction?
We decorated the new part of the store with pink/sage/white floral, bouffant drapes at each dressing room door, and white wicker furniture in the small waiting area at the front of the store – a spring/summer-like look to coordinate with the type of clothing that would be found in that part of the store. Tarika, which had always been a somewhat unusual store in that it had an interesting mix of ethnic, career, sportswear, and even jeans for the college crowd, now had a niche in the marketplace. Here was a place where those who had had their colors analyzed could find clothes purchased especially for them…and where they could get professional help in interpreting their color cards.
Beth Martinez, a rare and unexpected talent, did window displays using our gigantic bear as the focal point and inspiration. I purchased the bear at market, hoping to use it for a time as a prop in the window and then eventually sell it. Little did I know what a fixture it would become! That bear was a cheerleader, a coach, a laundress, a hairdresser…and you name it! When finally, a young man, who had watched its changing personna with his girlfriend as they had taken a nightly walk down 2nd Street for a couple of years, asked to buy it, I was at a loss to come up with a price. I explained. “This bear is invaluable – so experienced – it's priceless!” He agreed, but said it had such sentimental value for him and his fiancee that he wanted to give it to her as a surprise for graduation. I finally cited an exorbitant price for the grizzled ol’ bear that kids had been climbing over for the past three years. Saddened, the manager took his check for the outrageous price, rueful she would have to tell Beth and me we no longer had a mascot. The children were not the only ones saddened at this loss. We were bereft!
A series of managers included Joanne Chiofolo, a hairdresser with a great sense of style. When Joanne could no longer cut hair because of an allergy to hair products, she became the first manager and a delight! When she left, Sue Cello, who had been a manager at Discoveries joined us, bringing a business sense rather than fashion expertise. After Sue, Kathy McDermott Klenzendorf took over and ably managed the Davis store until its closure. At one point, I even tried a male manager…less than successful for a women’s clothing store. Marion Sulsona and Janie Mircetich went with me to the Sacramento store and continued until that store closed some years later. Jeanne Larsen did all of our hemming and minor alterations. Carolyn Cole took care of my bookkeeping and bill paying. Betty Brown (affectionately known as Betty Boop) steamed, tagged and brought the goods across the parking lot driveway in rolling racks to the store. A good team.
The best way I found to market Tarika turned out to be the presentation of fashion shows at restaurants in Davis and Sacramento, the Senior Center, and for various special events sponsored by organizations. Our models became, or were, our best customers from Day 1. My book, The Color Connection, presents a good catalog of our customers – in color photos taken by Tom Deininger. I used the photos of our customers with their testimonials in my advertising, which has continued to be the format for the advertising for the consignment shop, All Things Right and Relevant.
I published an almost monthly newsletter, probably mostly because I like to write, but also because it was an excellent vehicle for telling my customers about new merchandise and keeping our name in front of our audience. I always included a recipe. To this day, people remind me of a recipe they got from the newsletter which they still make and enjoy.– crab canapés, for instance, or Linda Troy’s French Strawberry Pie.
This continues to be one of our favorite hors d’ouevres…although I haven’t seen butterflake rolls in a long time. We adapt! A flaky biscuit will do.
French Strawberry Pie (Linda Troy)
[I’ve adapted this recipe, too – Weight Watchers style, I now use fat free yogurt cheese in place of the cream cheese and Splenda for the sugar to make it 4 points per serving as opposed to 8 points per serving. No one would even guess!]
...to be continued