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What’s Selling at Vivien Kozlovski’s C’est Chou by Sienna, in Miami, FL.
When the tweens in her life struggled with the sartorial transition out of kids’ styles, Vivien Kozlovski searched tirelessly for a solution. She scoured her local Miami market yet couldn’t find “anything in the stores that a tween would wear.” Rather than keep looking, she decided to open her own store. Kozlovski researched brands extensively on Instagram and attended a trade show, going booth to booth to get a lay of the land before partnering with a local Miami store on a tween pop-up. It led to being offered a spot in Miami’s coveted design district, where she opened C’est Chou by Sienna (named after her daughter) last December.
Nestled among designer flagships like Prada, Hermés and Cartier, the 450-square-foot boutique is the go-to place for Miami tweens who want that perfect balance between cool teen and carefree kids. With space a premium, Kozlovski keeps a highly curated collection of brands like Unlabel, Molo, Little Remix, Les Coyotes des Paris and Velveteen, which add to the store’s European minimalist vibe. “I pick clothes you or I would wear, because tweens don’t want to look like little girls anymore,” she says. “It’s adult clothing with a youthful twist, so it’s not inappropriate.” Customers love the selection so much, Kozlovski has expanded the assortment from sizes 8-16 to 4-16, with some baby clothing mixed in for gifting.
Maintaining sales growth in a niche market is tough, but Kozlovski believes C’est Chou by Sienna succeeds by giving customers what Amazon and larger department stores can’t: unrivaled customer service. To accommodate her starved-for-time clientele for example, the store features a VIP service where Instagram followers can request house calls. Kozlovski herself will bring clothes for try-ons, no purchases necessary. Anything to make the awkward tween shopping years more fun and accessible. “It’s painful to see tweens with their arms crossed like they don’t want to try on anything,” Kozlovski says. “I coax them to just try one thing, saying they won’t regret it. More often than not, they’re super happy.” —Aleda Johnson
How’s business? Pretty good. I try to find brands that the big chains and Amazon don’t carry. I was the first in the area to carry Molo and Little Remix, so I can compete with brands no one else has. I have a few brands like Fluf lunch boxes that I did well with, despite them being sold on Amazon. I always have great customer service, telling every customer, “Thank you so much.” People are loyal, and they understand.
How would you describe your core customer? We get a lot of older girls who, thanks to Instagram, want to look older than they should be dressing. A lot of moms will buy from me because we have such a cool, rock and roll aesthetic. They’re looking for the European cool, so they will wear a leather skirt and polka dot sweatshirt instead of the typical jean shorts and tees.
What are some of your top-selling brands? Little Remix is the biggest because moms and tweens love how environmentally conscious they are. We have one dress that is made of 100-percent recycled plastic. Les Coyotes de Paris is also popular because it’s European cool. Molo is another top brand. Louis Louise is popular for the little baby we carry as gifts. My brands aren’t cheap, but moms find them worth it.
How about accessories? We do well with Herschel bags as well as Chloe K and Bari Lynn accessories, which are fun and well-priced. But I’ve had a really hard time finding accessories that go with our aesthetic. I’ve shopped New York and Paris looking for anything different. I try not to order anything with emojis on it, which is everything these days.
What do you see trending for Fall ’19? We’re pulling from Velveteen because they have styles with a beautiful little bit of shimmer and gold in it. Metallics will be popular. Darker colors like black will also be trending, but I can’t sell that here because the Miami crowd doesn’t like dressing their kids in black.
What’s been the most effective way to spread the word about your store? I use social media all day, every day. Instagram is a great tool where I make posts, and people write back to ask questions about stock. It’s also linked to my Facebook page, so whatever gets posted on one is posted on the other.
What’s the best business decision you’ve made of late? Learning to take my time and buy strategically. At first my customers may be shy to try a new brand, but that’s why I educate them. I had to learn it’s all about patience and communication.
Any immediate or longer-term goals? I love this little space, but I’d love to expand to more locations. We’ve proven the niche is there, so now I’m looking for anyone who wants to invest. It should be an exciting next chapter.