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Rebecca Weisz, owner of Ladida and mom of six, on why passion, panache and patience are the keys to success.
I’m so fortunate to do what I love for a living. Some people open a business purely to make money, but that mentality won’t give you long-term success in our industry. Unlike electronics, childrenswear can’t be sold effectively without a personal touch. It all boils down to understanding and appreciating kids. My six children are very influential in how I run my business.
What you buy, how you merchandise, when it’s sold, your decor—every factor that goes into running your store affects how the customer thinks—and buys. And while your vendors are in control of providing great product, you’re just as responsible for conveying their message through superior presentation and customer service.
Some of the items I buy are simply meant to make my customer say, ‘Oh my God’ when they walk in. It’s like buying a good piece of furniture for the store. Products that are a little ‘out there’ may not sell at full price, but they leverage the rest of my inventory.
I’m one of the fastest buyers around. (Laughs.) It’s all about that first instinct as a mom. Sometimes I’ll be nearly finished with an order and start thinking, ‘Maybe this would be better…’ but then I stop myself. Anything can grow on you, but those initial judgments are what usually work best.
You don’t build a customer base overnight. I started from scratch 10 years ago. I was a therapist and switched into childrenswear retailing after having kids. I opened a store in Lakewood, NJ, and it’s taken a lot of hard work to get to the level of recognition we have today. My community helped spread the word, in addition to developing a social media presence and an e-commerce site. I promise if you have a passion for serving families, the tough days pass and it’s all worth it in the end.