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Rosie Burno, owner and designer of Dainty Girl Accessories, dishes on retailing, designing and keeping up with ever-evolving trends.
Rosie Burno has always had a knack for things glamorous, glittery and girly. Ever since stepping out of college with a degree in fashion design, the Canadian designer-turned-retailer-turned-wholesaler has been scanning the market for the next hot trend. She started out designing for various women’s and children’s labels before briefly launching her own girls’ clothing line in the late ’90s, only to put it on hiatus to get married and start a family. But that reignited her can-do spirit that first led to her retail career and, soon after, the wholesale business, Dainty Girl Accessories.
“My two girls were a huge inspiration for me,” Burno says, citing her first daughter’s sixth birthday as the catalyst for Dainty Girl Accessories. “She wanted a spa birthday party, and I couldn’t find any salons in Montreal that would come to the house and do little girls’ hair and nails—so, I started a company of my own!”
Dainty Girl began as a traveling beauty service for girls, offering manicures, pedicures, facials and hair styling. Burno would bring accessories and even outfits to the appointments, allowing party attendees to select from an assortment of apparel and accessories fit for a princess. Then, in 2016, Burno made the leap to open her own girls’ boutique, stocking the brands she had been traveling with. The 2,200-square-foot boutique even added a spa section to host parties and draw customers. “It quickly became a unique, one-stop shop for little girls,” she says, adding, “We’re the only ones doing this!”
As business grew, Burno decided to try her hand at girls’ apparel again. “We launched Dainty Girl Accessories online a year ago, and it’s been exploding ever since,” she says, adding that once she hires help she expects business to grow significantly. “That’s really the only thing holding me back from expanding more—time!” Burno adds.
Who is the Dainty Girl customer? The U.S. market is where my wholesale customers are primarily based and where the most potential for growth lies. Canadians are more conservative, and Dainty Girl Accessories is very vibrant and trend-driven. It would do well here, but not as well. That’s why I’m constantly traveling to the States to get the word out.
What’s the biggest challenge of managing your business? Staying relevant. It’s a huge challenge keeping up with trends these days. Kids are moving incredibly quickly in this age of social media. What’s cool today could be over in a week! As a designer, I need to constantly be searching the market for what’s next. It’s not enough to just know what’s hot now.
Where, specifically, do you look for design inspiration? Staying up to date on what’s happening on the runways is step one. Chanel is one of my favorite designers, so you’ll definitely see some Chanel-inspired designs in the collection. Overall, I’m always looking for what’s new—what’s funky. Social media is great for discovering that. I also travel to the U.S. often and my daughters are a huge source of inspiration, as well.
What were your top sellers this year? Anything unicorn! Our unicorn plush one-piece performed well and so did our unicorn jacket.
What’s next after unicorns? Good question! I’m not sure it’ll even be an animal. I see the next big thing as some sort of new interpretation on girls’ obsession with rainbows and glitter. That could mean a new mythical creature or simply the rise of extravagant hearts, stars or something in between. The unicorn isn’t going anywhere for awhile though—that I can say, for sure!
How do you plan on expanding your assortment in the coming seasons? While I’m not a clothing line, I always like to have a few pieces that are insanely cool—like the unicorn one-pieces that customers went crazy for in 2019. In general, though, retailers want more accessories. They are perfect for changing up any outfit, sell faster and make for a smaller investment.
Any specific styles expected to be big this year? You’ll certainly see more oversized sunglasses and little purses inspired by top women’s designers. Our sunglasses for this spring are insane. They’re nicer than those for adults!
What’s your sweet spot in pricing? Our lowest priced item would be hair clips that retail around $6 up to our highest price item currently, unicorn one-pieces, retailing for $49. I really believe our prices are spot on. It’s not overpriced for what you’re getting in quality. Honestly, I’ve never had any complaints from customers regarding pricing.
How do you plan on continuing to grow the brand in 2020? Just in the year we’ve been wholesaling, Dainty Girl Accessories has done a handful of trade shows and advertised in publications like Earnshaw’s. If I wasn’t such a one-man show, I think our growth would be completely off the charts! But for now, I just need to take things one at a time. This year, I hope to focus on growing our Instagram page. People need to see numbers and consistency—they will trust and be attracted to a popular account. That’s just the way the world works these days, so we need to get on board!
What do you love most about being a designer/retailer/wholesaler? The freedom. I also love how the process of design has evolved since I graduated school. It used to be all about drawing. Now it’s way more digital—full of constant inspiration and much more geared to the specific needs of the customer. The process goes so quickly now, no longer having to sketch everything out on paper. It’s much easier to produce on a tight timeline, which, as I mentioned earlier, is ideal is today’s fast-paced world.