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Step by Step

“Just do the next right thing”

ed-letter-feet-feb-17Years ago, in a period of time when my life was overwhelming and I was flailing to tame the unknowable future, my husband repeated to me advice a colleague had given him. “Just do the next right thing,” he said. This simple phrase immediately broke my gargantuan task down to it’s smallest, doable elements. Suddenly, I knew the next step to take.

This thought kept popping into my head during the Earnshaw’s Live panel discussions we held at the Children’s Club trade show in New York last month. Retailers and brands alike were discussing how to navigate challenges of Goliath portions—the shrinking brick-and-mortar environment chief among them. Commercial real estate research firm CoStar Group had just released a report that called for U.S. retailers to reduce their physical store space by 10 percent or 1 billion square feet in order to turn around same-store sales. The report also warned that more store closing and downsizings are still to come in 2017.

I imagined that the current environment must be particularly scary for the small mom-and-pops. But in talking with store owners across the country for our Retail Report (page 11), I found that most were following a similar philosophy, breaking down the seemingly impossible into small achievable steps they could take, like getting better acquainted with the customer through social media and creating an unforgettable experience.

Speaking of putting one foot in front of the other, the February issue is dedicated to footwear. In our fashion spread “Foot Loose” (page 20), kids kick up their heels in fall’s whimsical colors, embellishments and prints while the Footwear Preview Fall ’17 (page 8) highlights the children’s footwear designers who are walking the tightrope between providing customers warmth and functionality and keeping costs affordable. Comfy casual sneakers, short Chelsea-style boots and hybrid sneakers appear to be the styles best able to keep pace with what the child wants as well as the financial limitations of their parents.

For the subjects of our Q&A this month (page 18), Lemon Loves Lime Owners Joy Cha and William Banti, it’s a small ascent up the stairs from their factory to their first retail store in Menasha, Wisc., and that’s exactly where they like to be, interacting with parents, grandparents and little kids who scamper between a play area and an ice cream parlor. Spending time with the customer has taught them much about their business, as they are eager to share. Looking back on the path that joined them both professionally and personally, it was a series of roadblocks that forced them to be creative and brought them to this point, celebrating 10 years in the business. Who knows, their story may inspire one of you future entrepreneurs to take the leap.   

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