Robin Droescher teaches SXF 225: How to Style, Plan and Merchandise a Pet Products Line.
So, tell us a little about yourself…
I worked in the women’s fashion apparel industry for many years in design, product dev. and manufacturing. I was very fortunate to have had the opportunity to work at Ralph Lauren, Banana Republic, Calvin Klein and my last position was at Liz Claiborne. Six years ago I combined 2 of my loves – dogs and design. I launched Robin Meyer NYC. We produce a line of clothing and accessories for dogs with a fashion meets function point of view. A portion of my business has evolved into consulting for a couple of other dog manufacturers as well as doing private label for Barneys New York Dog and Orvis.
We’ve heard that you’ve emBARKed on a new job path…
I recently opened a retail boutique and grooming salon called Bark Place. I carry my line of products as well as other manufacturers. We have a full product assortment of coats, sweaters, beds, toys and treats. It is a great way to test new products and if they are successful to go into a production run the following season. The grooming business as been doing extremely well from the day we opened. I wanted to create something modern and state of the art – a place where people feel comfortable leaving their 4 legged children and are pleased with how they looked when they are picked up. I believe we have succeeded!
What is exciting in the pet market right now?
I think one the exciting things in the pet market now is that apparel and accessories for dogs really follows the trends of what is happening in the human apparel market. I am starting to work on Fall 2016. I have spent the past few days shopping stores, looking through fashion magazines and browsing trend services on line. I know what sells in my line but it is a matter of taking the basis of what works and making it look fresh and new for the coming season.
Can you give us a sneak peek of your class?
I have taught my class several times now. The first class I ask my students what they really would like to learn and take away. Each class I modify slightly to accommodate their requests. We spend time merchandising an assortment so it is focused, cohesive with a clear point of view. I then teach costing exercises using different classifications of product: coats, sweaters etc. We start with the cost of all the raw materials, add labor, shipping charges etc. to come up with a first cost. We then work on the mathematical formulas to bring the 1st cost to wholesale with margin implications and then to the MSRP (Manufacturers Suggested Retail Price). I also talk a little about how to import from overseas factories.
Here’s a list of some things big businesses do – actually it’s the people in them – and what to avoid when you’re starting your company:
Use employees like toilet paper – don’t get involved with them and turn them over regularly – this gives the company/you a horrible reputation, and disincentives employees – disgruntled employees make “mistakes” and work gets sloppy. I was at an ad agency once where one client’s logo found its way onto another client’s ad.
Tell your employees how great the company is doing while underpaying them – the bosses get all the bonuses and the employees struggle. Results: see disgruntled employees above.
Purposely cut lines of communication within the company or illegally raising capital. Management, board members, and investors and sometimes law firms are left out of an important communications loop. Sooner or later the culprits get caught. Ultimately it’s at the company’s expense. See “A tale of how successfully raising capital leads to bankruptcy” below.
When in doubt here’s a simple rule to follow: The Golden Rule. Sounds trite but when you treat your employees how you would like to be treated, then you develop a great team. When I have consultants working on projects with me, I pay them before they bill me. This instills appreciation and loyalty and guess what? When I have a project, there’s never a wait or conflict – they are there for me every time. And they turn out their best work for me and my clients.