Jane August Mercer Tassle Clutch - Python, Washed Python, Stingray ($1,390), Washed Lamb ($880)PB: What was the biggest hurdle establishing yourself?

Jane August: Getting the working capital to start my business. I think that it’s tough when you start and you do not have a backer, or any kind of financing. Especially in this day and age, it is very difficult. As your business grows, you need to go back for additional financing. When you have orders for 2-3 million dollars, you need to be able to pay a certain amount up front. Your cash flow is a very, very intricate part of doing any business. You can have the most incredible, beautiful product, but if you do not have the ability financially to do it, it just doesn’t happen. And there are so many talented people out there that can not get the financing that they need.

Jane August 57th Street in Anthracite Python ($3,080)Also, you can have the most awesome product, but unless you have a showroom with sales people that really understand what your product is and what it’s about, you can’t make it happen. I will give you an example. I was with a very big showroom, we did well at the beginning, as well as we thought that I was doing. You don’t really know what the capability is until you really reach the potential of knowing your sales people. I think that they almost put me out of business! I don’t think that their sales people were bad, they had so much jewelry in their showroom that they didn’t understand the other elements of what they had. I don’t think they knew how to sell a handbag. It wasn’t that they didn’t have the customer or price point, because when I went to the next person, she was opening up her own business and she had the same sensibility as I did. She said to me ‘I can take one item and I can make your entire season’. This happened to be with the King’s Road bag. I gave her this one bag, I made 120 pieces of all-black linen to start it off. Within a month, she had sold them all. She started her own clothing line, she wanted her own people in accessories, she didn’t want to compete with what she was starting. She needed somebody to help her pay her rent and help with commissions. She literally turned my business around in one year. When I met Lisa at Sola, it really was going to be the make-it-or-break-it for me. When I would do a bag and I’d repeat it and repeat it, they’d say ‘When does this bag die?’ and I say ‘It doesn’t have to!’. I see people sometimes buying 2 or 3 and they are open to that. A lot of other showrooms would say ‘I need more newness, I need 8 more new!’ Whatever the magic number of newness would be every season. But Sola was open enough to stay with that. We’ve had King’s Road, the long shopping bag, we’ve had 57th Street, on which you can see the escalation of sales. A lot of times, a bag doesn’t come into its own for a year or sometimes two years. When the designer doesn’t believe in it enough to keep it on, you will never know. When you believe in something so strongly, and the sales people will get on that bandwagon, it will happen. It’s like the movie, if you believe in it, it will come. I give a huge amount of credit to the showroom and the sales staff. If you don’t have that behind you, it doesn’t matter what you have.

Jane August 57th Street in Maroon Python ($3,080)So many times, because I have much more of a retail-math/buying/ store line/being on a selling floor, a more diverse background than most designers, I understand the whole process. I just don’t think it’s a sitting-back-looking-at-pretty-leathers and pretty things and making something. If you don’t really understand what your product is, why you think it should be out there, then I don’t think that you will ever be able to have growth in your business. Your showroom and sales personal also needs the stores behind them. It is a big investment, it is not “Made In China” and “Buy at Target for $19.99”. I am not putting down that price point, it is not my market, but it’s that much tougher to sell. I give the showroom a lot of credit, they have an incredible relationship with their stores. Their stores have a relationship with their customer. And that is really the chain. Established relationships are so important. You have to grow your business with new people as well, but if you don’t have those sales people behind you, I don’t think you’ll go anywhere.

PB: The typical Jane August customer?

Jane August: She is ageless. It has nothing to do with age, but with attitude. She is very self-assured. I do not think she wants to see herself coming and going. I think she is very understated. I go back to that word ‘chic’. She could be a little opulent. I don’t necessarily think that she is conservative. I know she is NOT conservative. She is not that Coach customer that is a little more traditional.

Share Your Thoughts With Us

  • lula_bernie

    Thank you very much for sharing this interview! :smile:

    I hadn’t heard of this designer before and look forward to seeing more of her collections.

  • I love her 57th Street bag! That is a beauty. We will be bringing more news from her to you all

  • Pat

    You have some absolutely beautiful bags.

  • Teresina Coleman

    I just saw the hand bags you have some really beautiful bags.

  • Linda Segel

    :razz: This is the first time I’ve seen these bags and this designer. They are gorgeous….who wouldn’t want one of these?

  • Sharon Luneau

    HOT AUGUST!!!
    One is not enough. After my first Kings Road I thought it doesn’t get any better than this. Wrong!! I wouldn’t carry any other designer. I collect them. As a buyer in High End fashion, I have been stopped in Paris and Milan so often that I keep going back for more. Her 57th Street bag is another of my favorites. The quality, and fine attention to detail in her designs are so chic. I have seen “Big” name designers try to copy them. They simply can’t. She is an original. I look forward to her new resort collection so that I can put in my reserve at Linda Dresner. If you want “real” style and quality
    treat yourself to one of her bags. Lux leathers, incredible pythons, shapes and colors. So you may not be a celebrity, carry a Jane August bag. You will feel and quite possibly look like one. BRAVO for Jane August!!!!!

  • Wendy Silver

    Her handbags are fabulous! I loved reading this blog and learning about her.

  • arun

    such a great post on blog, I love this blog

  • Bob

    Don’t want to seem too commercial but For Jane August fans, want to let you know, PorteroPrivate is having a 48 hour sale event on 5/27/09. http://www.PorteroPrivate.com – wouldn’t normally post a sale but if you are in the hunt for a Jane August bag our merchants are offering some great items at fantastic pricing.

  • Beverly

    I just found an invite to the Jane August private sale today on stylemaven:

    http://stylemaven.typepad.com/styleagenda/2009/05/jane-august-exclusive-invite-only-shopping-event-special-invite-for-stylemaven-readers.html

    if you click on the link on their site – it takes you to a Portero Private website and you have to type in the code STYLEMAVEN. Then you get the invite. They have great stuff and it is pretty cheap for python! I HEART Jane August bags. I have the Kings Road in lipstick red shiny croc!

  • Jo Ann

    My only wish in life is to be surrounded by Jane August bags. My closet is full and I am going though Jane withdrawls. She is the best! Oh and then there is always Charo…….

  • Felice Robin Designs

    I too have been designing handbags for 20 years and produce them all by hand, Many of mine are one of a kind. You are welcome to see some on my website (felicerobindesigns.com)–which is a work in progress. When I saw Jane’s bags I was blown away. Some of the nicest I have ever seen. I’ll be checking back from time to time to see what she is up to. Best wishes!

  • Handbags

    It looks nice!

  • cheap wholesale handbags

    pretty cute! that’s a good way to put it, nice insights works well in clientele explanation and information resource option.

  • Sandra Arnold

    I purchased one of your belts from a boutique in Hinsdale, Ill. It was one of a kind. I loved it and wore it constantly for a couple of years. The buckle on it, unfortunately, cracked in half in my suitcase. I was devastated and tried to purchase a new one, but the boutique no longer carried your line. It was a very wide belt with a large buckle which was a metal with black leather trim. Is there any way I can buy another belt from you? My phone number is 1-630-573-4250.

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