Today’s guests are Kingfisher Road boutique founder, Kelly Epstein and her daughter Laura.
Kingfisher Road boutique was established in 2004. Kelly began selling at fundraisers and private events. What began as a fun side business, quickly became something that needed its own dedicated space – not at her home! Michelle & the Kingfisher ladies discuss business growth, working with a family member, and how Kingfisher continued to thrive during the pandemic & political upheaval.
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Michelle: Hey there. I'm Michelle Sherrier, and this is the retail whore podcast, the stories and Lessons from the Life and Retail. Hey, everybody. It is been a wild week. We are now when this is being recorded. We've just hit the one year mark from when the country and the world went into a complete closure for a, quote, global pandemic. So, you know, it's wild just thinking where we were last year. In the beginning, it was kind of funny and it's like, oh, we're drinking all our wine and we're baking bread. And it was, you know, I'm not going to lie. In the beginning, it was a vacation because I've never taken that much time off. But now here we are a year later, the shot is has come out and we're all kind of returning to normal life. So with that, I am pleased to have today's recording with the lovely ladies from Kingfisher Road. It's a mother daughter team who have a wildly successful store in Woodland Hills and have just opened a brand new outpost for markdowns called The Annex. So without further ado, please enjoy this afternoon's recording of the ladies of Kingfisher Road.
Kingfisher Road: Hi. Hi. Here, let me fix. There we go. Hi.
Michelle: Hi. How are you guys doing? We're good. Okay. So tell me a little bit about you guys, who you guys are, what you do.
Kingfisher Road: Okay. Okay. So I guess I should go first. Oh, okay. So like about me personally, about the store.
Michelle: You guys, the store, your history, because we'll go into how it all started. So more about who you guys are.
Kingfisher Road: Okay. For some reason I want to start with my age. I don't know why I'm 57. I don't understand people who hide that. My name is Kelly Epstein and started Kingfisher Road out of my garage in 2004. Wow. After really searching for something to do and I my kids were it was probably 13 or 14. I was probably 13. The store open? Yeah. Yeah. And then my son Leo has a brother is two, two years older. So they were that age where it was like they needed attention, but they didn't need it. Like, I had, like, almost I had too much time on my hands and I didn't want to get too involved in their life, if that makes sense. So. So anyways, I just had this idea that's a longer that could be the whole podcast on that. But I started selling out of my home selling frames, oddly enough. And now, like, we hardly sell any frame. Which is funny because I was going to these, I was going to these charity events where people set up things and that know and I was like going, Oh, this is so this looks like fun. I love setting up things. I love display. I love display. Misc display, hands display.
Michelle: Is that nice?
Kingfisher Road: Yeah. Thank you, Michelle. That's funny. So. So anyways, that took off. And from the very first first boutique I did, it was at I think it was at Alea and it's a temple. I went with my husband because I was really nervous, brought a bunch of shit up stuff, but...
Michelle: All the time I already said that, like my interest, the podcast, I'm like, Oh really? Every now I cuss like there's nothing.
Kingfisher Road: So I brought it was like more tchotchke, no jewelry, no clothing. It was really gifting. And my husband came with me, which is so cute. So when I think about it, it's such a great support. He's been super supportive. Yeah. So anyways, so we're there and I wanted to do gift wrap and all the other vendors there were like, I mean, I might be exaggerating a little bit, but they were really like snarky about it. Like, Oh, she'll get she'll know. Don't do gift wrap, don't do it. You know, and by the way, my gift wrap was like cellophane bag tissue or like a gift bag tissue ribbon or something like that. Yeah, I was wrapping, but no one else was doing that there. So people loved that. So, you know, they weren't badmouthing me at the end of that when I had the line, you know, just it's like, oh, my God, she gift wrap. Yeah, right. So, so anyways, it just grew and grew. And then it was like I heard about an opportunity of a place that was available. The rent was like 700 a month. Wow. And very small 500 square foot place. And I thought my husband was even like. Oh, cute, cute. Just be open like three days a week. I'm like, no, I'm going to I'm doing a store. It's like store. So I did it and opened it. And that's that was the genesis of Kingfisher.
Michelle: So how. There's so much to unpack from that right now.
Kingfisher Road: There's so much. I mean.
Michelle: So you you started doing boutiques and then like how long did you do boutiques before you started? Wow.
Kingfisher Road: A year, year and a half.
Michelle: And when did Lo because you were 13
Kingfisher Road: So Lo was being a teenager at this point. And then, by the way, when I was working out of my house, I had also I staged a thing in my downstairs area where people could come shop. She'd come and help me display and stuff she had. She would go, she has a natural I have a natural eye. And she would just like be like, you do something like pretty bow and she'd do it. Logan Lowe was in and out of the picture really until she would come in for a year or so. And then she was here. When did you really land? Land like five years ago. Yeah, I would say. About five years ago. It's been my longest run, but quite the journey. But finally.
Michelle: How long have you had the brick and mortar before Lo came?
Kingfisher Road: Well, we've been 17 years, so 12 years. But before that, I mean, she was working there. She was working there. So five years ago, you were, what, 26? Yeah. So before then, she would literally come and work for a year or two years, leave a year or two years and leave, you know, things like she's in her twenties. Yeah. So and twenties. Yeah. So I wouldn't know as her eighties. Yeah. Very future baby. Yeah. Some work. So anyway so yeah. So she's been like with me full, full on and truly my right hand now. But it's, yeah it's been five five solid years of she and I together together.
Michelle: So the, the original 500 square foot store.
Kingfisher Road: So from there from there we I got I got word that they were opening a place right up the street from us that was going to have a Starbucks and just a cute area. And I live right around the corner from from there. So met with them, moved into there three years later. So that was three and a half years after I got the 500 square foot place.
Michelle: So what's what's the square footage jump you guys made?
Kingfisher Road: We went from 500. That's including the back room, by the way. Including a back room to 900. So, by the way, I didn't know it. We were in a recession. I was like, Let's go, let's do it. I had no idea we were in a recession.
Michelle: Is this it's after 2011 because.
Kingfisher Road: That's when it was 2008. This was before you first opened in 2004? Yeah, I opened in 2004. But then I made the jump in 2008 to the bigger location. And then about four or five years after that, we broke through a wall because we really needed more space. So now we're at 2100 square feet.
Michelle: How many square footage are you now? And this one. So you went from 500 to 800 to 2100
Kingfisher Road: Well, to be technical, 500 to 900 to 2100.
Michelle: 2008 is when you added apparel, when you moved into the bigger space.
Kingfisher Road: 2008 we hadn't really added apparel yet. I. When I. I mean, even everything I added I remember like in the small space going, Oh, people are asking about jewelry or jewelry. Jewelry start selling, right? All very organic.
Michelle: You really listen to what your customers are asking for.
Kingfisher Road: Totally. And then I remember thinking to myself, in the larger space, going would be so funny if I started ordering clothes. So that'd be like me ordering clothes like like like a story behind it, though, or like walking by. Well, the story, the thought was when I was thinking about ordering clothes was all the stores around me are very most of them, I would say, are fast fashion. They go downtown, they are contemporary cut. So I would have people walking in like I'm not exaggerating in tears, like someone like a completely normal looking person going the extra large. I know. Yes. Okay.
Michelle: A whole other conversation that I. Totally. Fast fashion is.
Kingfisher Road: So I'm thinking there's no market right in my little area that really caters to women that are normal. Yeah, right. Or you could get like a great cashmere sweater. Like, I knew that there was a market for it. So then one day I was out shopping with a very good friend of mine who's still a good friend of mine. We were in to the area that. Have you been that cute area in Tonga.
Michelle: Yeah. One of my accounts, Serendipity is on.
Kingfisher Road: Okay. Yeah, I was shopping at some store. My friend goes, oh, I want to see. There's this line they have in there. I want to go see it. So I go try it on we go see it. I'm not even thinking really like a store. I'm not I'm not like I'm not shopping the store.
Michelle: Do you know what I mean for you?
Kingfisher Road: I was just like with my girlfriend and she tried something and I said, Should I have this? What? Now, looking back on it, I went, Should I if this was at my store, would you buy it? Because yeah, I'm buying it right now. So I ordered from that line it was called. Oh, my God. Oh, my God. So that was my first line and I.
Michelle: Never heard that line. Are they still around?
Kingfisher Road: Because. Yeah, they're around that. You have to order it just right to order it just right. But I, I got like I got two rolling racks from Target at the store and I was like, I'm just going to try this. I am not kidding you. I was standing at the cash register, taking off my shirt and throwing it, throwing it to customers like I need that.
Michelle: Okay. I love that.
Kingfisher Road: I mean.
Michelle: And that's.
Kingfisher Road: Great. For a while.
Michelle: During the recession or is this when we started coming out?
Kingfisher Road: Let's see, this was coming. This might have been like. 2000. I'm going to guess maybe 2011. Just coming out of it, I'm thinking because I know I didn't have clothes, clothes. I had a few things, by the way, but nothing like going into clothing, you know, like ordering out and planning and all that stuff. So yeah, so started doing, that's how it started. And then just slowly building and as you say, just continuing to listen to the customers. Yeah, that's.
Michelle: Your guys for sure. Strength as far as like the customer service and gift wrapping and really because I think a lot of people, you know, ego gets in the way and it's like, I want it to be like what I want instead of like what the customers want. And that's a very slippery slope when you start doing that. And I think.
Kingfisher Road: Like, so here's my thing. I want people to be happy. Yeah, we're the ultimate people. We really, yeah, we really want people to be happy. But like, genuinely, we want people leaving our store feeling good. Yes. Yeah. You know.
Michelle: And that's huge because, you know, I mean, and I still say this, still my customer service, I learned from Fred Segal and it it was very spoon fed all my I had my client books on my staff had client books you wrote thank you cards for everything even if you got only a pair of socks but that customer service like no one does and I still believe that kind of customer service supersede everyone saying Amazon and brick and mortar are dead. It's like, Yeah, sorry, I don't believe that. I think customer service is what because people like I always used to say my clients are like my family. I know what where they went on their holiday, I know their dog's name. We send kids gifts for Christmas. I mean, it's truly like your family. Yeah, that's I think a lot. I mean, obviously has to do a huge part of your success.
Kingfisher Road: Thank you.
Michelle: Work for apparel. So one of the questions I have was now that Lowe's full time and you guys are you guys because what's the percentage of your gift to apparel.
Kingfisher Road: Oh, I'd say more like probably 65 to 70% apparel. Yeah, we have a huge baby department, Michel. Yeah, we also sell men's, we sell home, we sell books, candles, bath, body. I mean, we sell because I always.
Michelle: I lump all that in gift and then just keep apparel. Apparel like I. Yeah.
Kingfisher Road: Baby.
Kingfisher Road: Baby as a gift. But I hear you. Yeah.
Michelle: I mean, for for me, for a pharmacy. It's all.
Kingfisher Road: Right.
Michelle: It's either clothing or gift.
Kingfisher Road: Right? Yeah. I mean, if you were to take everything out of the like, if it was only apparel. 60%. Yeah, 60% are huge babies. Really big and and jewelry, I mean. Yeah. So, I don't know. Does that answer your question?
Michelle: Yeah. Well, the question I have is like, how do you guys each buy different departments? Or do you guys just do everything together and everything?
Kingfisher Road: It really depends on what's going on. Yeah, right. We like to do for sure all the clothing together. Kelly's thing is definitely she loves buying, baby. I do. I don't know how.
Michelle: You know, like, I interrupt you for one second. I love how you call your mom, Kelly. I know it would be weird saying my mom, but it's like. So you're Kelly.
Kingfisher Road: Well, because. Because really professional thing. Yeah. And it's funny since the annex all like yell mom across the store and it's fun because it's like it's a sale location and like we get to be a little more like, know, like, funny. Yeah. So I'm like, we're ordering lunch on the phone while people are in there. Yeah.
Michelle: And that doesn't happen on your in your regular sales floor.
Kingfisher Road: No, we, we keep it very like, you know, just because I don't want it's not like it's a secret at all. Yeah, well, it's fun to play around. It's kind of fun, though, like when Cal or my mom does it out on the floor, and someone will come in and they'll go, Oh, the owner. And I'm like, I just kind of like, play with that. It's funny when people don't know it, like or like when we're doing our lives, we're not wearing our maps, you know? So it's like, Yeah, no, she's my daughter or your guys.
Michelle: Lives are hilarious, which we're.
Kingfisher Road: Going to get.
Michelle: Yeah, I love watching. So, okay, so the buying you both for the most part, you guys both go for.
Kingfisher Road: The most part. But I would say like my forte is it's not even my forte. Lo could do it just as good. It's just that I really love doing gift. I love that Laura really loves fashion, so I'll definitely take her lead on that stuff. But I also have our brand that I say, is that real? Is that our customer, which our customer is? 51, by the way.
Michelle: That's my next question is what's your demographic? Is it still like the regular woman.
Kingfisher Road: This 51 year old? Yeah, and it has definitely two kids, too. And it's definitely changed, I think, since the pandemic. Like, yes, I mean, before the pandemic, we had this line called simply that we dedicated to half of our store. Wow. Yeah. And it was a line that is not trendy at all, but very classic and. Well, and you can mix it up with stuff. Yeah, you can make it cute with denim or vice versa and tops. Yeah. Oh yeah. Great bottom, everything. We loved our reps, you know. I mean, like we sold it. We did trunk shows that did really well. Yeah. I mean, we had a category for numbers for buying, just dedicated for that, for that vendor. And so when the pandemic hit, no. One Oh my God. I mean, we had a trunk show planned for March 18th last year. Yeah, we're like, well, by.
Michelle: The way, I mean, it's it's technically a year right now.
Kingfisher Road: Yeah.
Michelle: Yeah, we were since we were like, quote, called the gala pandemic and shut down which is crazy to me that you know it a that we've all come out of it and how different business business is which is one of the things I was saying is like when all these changes happen, you guys pivoted pretty fast as far as going live and trying all these new things. Yeah, decision was to do that.
Kingfisher Road: Well, I would say we have to make a move and we're both really supportive about new ideas. Like I'll say something to Low Sugar. Yeah. Or she'll say something to me. I might go that I definitely like. We're very game for new and that's how we kind of thrive. Like we want to succeed. Yeah, we really want to do well and we believe in service. We want our community to thrive. We want to make people happy as we said. So like we tried comment sold. I don't I don't know if we'll go back to that. That is so much sheet. This one loves the camera. Well, you did well.
Michelle: You're very natural on it. I mean, it's I mean, literally, like the pivot you guys made was so fast and so clean and so seamless and it just seemed so natural. Like, there was.
Kingfisher Road: It was so first of all, I have a I don't I sound like so I have a staff. My staff, the people who work at Incredible. Oh, my God. I mean.
Michelle: Because you have ops, you have stock, you have.
Kingfisher Road: Manager. Yeah, we have an operations manager. We have what would you call operations assistant every she says everything. But what happened was, is we were set up on our website for commerce and My Love was not website. I was like, you know, and when, when the when the pandemic hit when the pandemic hit, by the way, I did have to have a full week of in my pajamas. Oh, my byline, by the way. I think.
Michelle: I think everybody.
Kingfisher Road: Like like, you know.
Michelle: I think we talked during that.
Kingfisher Road: Time. Yeah, I think we did. Okay. So so we also going to just say we have. Oh, I did. Yeah, we had good bones. But also what I was going to say is we started doing Easter baskets. I did 100 Easter baskets.
Michelle: That's right. That's right. That's right.
Kingfisher Road: And so here was the your.
Michelle: Back to your old garage days of. Yeah, now I remember.
Kingfisher Road: That I started selling Easter baskets low at home with Bay. For the first probably month for the first month. So customers would call, I'd say text me the age of your kid, what their likes and dislikes are, by the way. Unicorns and rainbows and dinosaurs and boys.
Michelle: Yeah. Thank you.
Kingfisher Road: Dinosaurs. That was it. Sharks. Sharks. So we had a great stock of Jelly Cat. I went to Target and got candy and made baskets and. But the model of texting pictures back and forth, I was like, it was her view of the inside of our store. Michelle Oh, it looks like. A bomb. It was everywhere.
Michelle: I remember seeing pictures of it. Like, I mean, you. Like I said, like, from far away. It was amazing to see you both. Just I mean, there's a handful of people I can say I follow on Instagram as far as retailers that literally just went into just, okay, what's our next thing? What are we going to do? And just your pivot was very seamless. Like I will.
Kingfisher Road: I know it looks so what it was I was working 60 to 70 hours a week and I went, Well, wait a minute, we have a website. So we have a great gal who does our pictures, helps with our our social media. And I'm like, Och, put Jelly Cat on the website. Just start with Jelly Cat for Commerce because it was set up for commerce, but I hadn't been interested. Well, this was like survival. Yeah. So then people would call and they'd say, Look, on our website, you could see all of our jelly cat pick it that way. And then we just kept on adding a vendor, a vendor, a vendor. Well, then we had and then it's kind of a long ago, isn't it, right now? Because now it's so emotional. Yeah, yeah, it's crazy. Oh, my God. And then finally, Karen was able to come in and help me, but I was there for a couple of months alone. Laura was worse. Laura was first Elsie, and then Elsie was there delivering baskets. I mean, it was crazy. So. So, yeah, I don't know. So that's the website started really as far as like, you know, what's the mother of invention, that whole thing. Like, it was a necessity. We had to.
Michelle: Well, I had my girlfriend on who is like she is my nerd herd, as they call them, like she's Ms.. Tech and she came out of the LA Weekly. So I had her on the other day and it was like basically talking about digital marketing. And I said to her, So many people got caught with their pants down and you guys reacted. But there is a whole lot of stores, I will guarantee you will not be around next year because same thing I'm not interested in e-commerce. It's no big deal. We do everything in the store, like literally in all sudden, like you can't go in your store, so what are you going to do? And they didn't have the tools or the knowledge about how to even where to start for it. And it's like they just like threw their hands up like a bunch of my reps and they're like, Yeah, so-and-so's just doesn't know what to do. She's just, just waiting it out. I'm like, How do you just sit and wait it.
Kingfisher Road: Out like the.
Kingfisher Road: Well, they didn't want it bad enough.
Michelle: Yeah, in in in the same breath. A lot of these stores, the women I'm talking about, are like have been in the game for years, like have had a retail store and they're like in their sixties, seventies, like, that's different. They're almost like and they don't have a young you have a young team around you. And you've said that I love, like being around the youth and like, like breeding, like have it watching them grow through the way. You guys are an all women team, which I love.
Kingfisher Road: Yeah.
Michelle: But it's, I think that you don't have that, that support system around you or you think that, oh, we don't need it or you're not open to new ideas. I think that so many people just got screwed and it's myself included, like with the digital thing. Oh, my God.
Kingfisher Road: Like, it's hard. Yeah, yeah.
Michelle: So, okay, so now I want to switch over to a couple of questions of what's your merchandising style for both the annex, which we haven't talked about the annex yet, but we will for let's say, what's your merchandising style for Kingfisher?
Kingfisher Road: Well, for one, we're always switching it up. Yeah, we before before the pandemic, we would have we had twice a year huge sales. And then when I say sales, it's by, by and by old inventory, by despite of mistakes, by the things that don't work. And then we would do a whole reset on the store. And when I say reset, I mean furniture. You know, I'd have someone come in and do a deep, clean and painting. Some know whatever and new really new displays really freshen it up. I love that. And customers love the. The pattern of that. I'm looking for a different word than pattern. Well, it was like a whole new story. Every six months, it was a whole new story every six months. I love that. So my I would say one of the reasons I even got into retail is because of display, because I would look at people at these boutiques and go, oh, how fun I can display frames with. I'll get a little box with my voice, I'll get little boxes and I'll, you know, I just had so much. I also got these wood ducks that came with names. And I would I came up with this idea to give them adoption like you would adopt. I made these adoption certificates for these ducks and gave them person. I mean.
Michelle: And you sold.
Kingfisher Road: What?
Michelle: You sold the ducks.
Kingfisher Road: Or sell them? No, no, no. I sold them. But but my point is, is I have a love for display and I have a real way of doing it. We both have such separate. Yeah. I mean, my way is pretty. I mean, I think you and I, Michel, have similar. Like, I take everything off it. It's a great opportunity to clean it. You know, I do the bones of it. And then, you know, I have a real idea of what's going to be on, what the story is, what the inspiration is. And yeah, I mean, and but here's the thing. It's got to be shoppable. Yeah. You know, I get so upset if there's a display done, I'm like, the person is going to knock over the thing as they're getting, you know, they can't look can't be too fragile. It can't be so pretty that they can't shop it. Yeah. You know.
Michelle: That's one thing I learned in Anthro. It's like, bottom line is it can look so beautiful and so amazing, but if it doesn't sell and it's not practical, then it doesn't. And I think that's a that's a hard the new merchandisers lesson is that they go in and they make it so precious that a it's wrecked in 5 minutes after the store being open and.
Kingfisher Road: B.
Michelle: The store can't maintain it because like they don't do. It's like you made it so pretty and it's like, okay, great. Now it's sold down. Like, What do I do? And the store is like, I don't know how to do it right.
Kingfisher Road: Yeah, well, that's what happens with us too, is we get so many shipments that we might spend all this time doing this play and then it has to get moved like the next day and you're like, well, what was that for hours on Saturday off for? Yeah, you kind of have to. I mean, my thing is like you have to have an eye of what's coming in, but also just almost not forget about it, but just you just have there's always going to be stuff. We have shipments every day. So do you guys.
Michelle: Find delivery windows or do you guys work on just send it up.
Kingfisher Road: What was the last part of what you said?
Michelle: Do you work on display delivery windows like ship it 313 15 or do you just work out?
Kingfisher Road: Yeah, yeah, we do. We do. But you know, you can't. Things are getting shipped from all over the place, so we get things every day. Yeah.
Michelle: I think the volume you guys do, you'd have to be able to get stuff every day in order to keep up with it.
Kingfisher Road: Uh huh. Uh huh.
Michelle: So for the gift trends that are going on right now, what is your favorite gift trend and what is your favorite apparel trend?
Kingfisher Road: Okay. Apparel is not tie dye. I want to take dun dun dun with uniforms right away. Oh, yeah. We have a lot of an order for a lot on order. It's lounge, lounge, lounge away.
Michelle: I mean it literally. I mean, I buy fast fashion, but like every single vendor is and it's like, oh, my God.
Kingfisher Road: Yeah, for for gift. I don't know if it's a first of all. Not really about trends. I have an eye on them, but I don't like the puffy sleeve. Yeah, but. And we'll try them like a little bit. But we're not known for being a trendy store. We're known for, like, what actually looks good because there can be some weird trends out there. What are your favorite versions then for us? God, there's such a mix. So like we love we work with a company called Project Specialty that I like them a lot. Yeah, they're a lot like, um. To Michael stars. Michael Stars. Michael Stars did us right during the pandemic. Like, gave us great terms, gave us great. They just were there. We love our rep. Michael Stars has been really good to us and and by the way yeah. We feel good to great good point. Yeah. Yeah. So by the way, the pandemic helped us get rid of some vendors. It's like you can't give us what we want, buy where we can do before, you know. So that was really that was a good thing. It gave us kind of the upper hand in a way. I know that they they have their own thing that they were going through, and I can't imagine that and we were going through our thing. So you cannot help us in any way, in any way or give us great terms or give us some discount or something to help us. Yeah, I had we have still pay rent when we're closed, you know. So I mean.
Michelle: Yeah, I had one vendor and I'm not going to name names, but I, when, when everything happened, it was like, oh my God, I started, I had to start cancelling off orders and they weren't like shipping next week orders, I mean like a month out. But I could see the writing on the wall. It was like, Oh God, so sorry. And one vendor we canceled and there was only a four sales on it left on it and they shipped one in the stores calling me like, what do we do with this? It cancel. I'm like, We'll just hold it and we'll just send it back. So all the vendor and they're like, Oh, we don't accept cancellations and we don't accept merchandise. Mike Talking about like at some point we'll cancel something. We don't we don't accept cancellations and I, we'll take it back. I'm like, so you're willing to give up this account? Five Pharmacy's.
Kingfisher Road: Amazing for.
Michelle: Returning one style. And then I started going, Well, am I being an asshole? Like you're dropping a vendor because they won't return one? But I'm like.
Kingfisher Road: No, this can't.
Michelle: Cancel that pandemic. Yeah. So I totally understand, like being able to, like, weed out the old. It's like.
Kingfisher Road: Wait it out. And we also changed a lot of our price point. Oh, my God. Yeah. We really had to get some new vendors that spoke to our people who weren't able to be spending as much. Yeah, and we didn't. We didn't want to do China, we didn't want to do fast fashion, but we wanted like so those two things are hard to find and a good price point. So it took a lot of do. Yeah.
Michelle: Private vendors. Who are your new favorite vendors out of that grouping?
Kingfisher Road: Um, we we we don't have anything right now, but I really do love Patrons of Peace. Yeah, that's a good line from India. But so that was a new a new pandemic trend for us last summer was dressing. Yeah, we were like, oh, never dresses. Like that's always been a really hard category for us. We get a few here, a few there, and all of a sudden it's 120 degrees. Yeah. And yeah. So this line of peace made India really, really, really great. Price point.
Michelle: Line. I really like it.
Kingfisher Road: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, that's just like the first one that popped into my head. I'm sure others will all think of that. We really we work with a line called so that has the stuff on the flannels. I'm seeing it in other place. But I love, we love that. I like working with them. Yeah. And this isn't. On that note. But one brand I do want to talk about is Bebe Floors. Oh.
Michelle: My God. That's the one I was waiting for you to bring up.
Kingfisher Road: I believe I did. Well, could you tell? I kept trying to. Oh, yeah. I'm like, when do I know Betty Maiden is real? This woman Dorie killed came into our store, I don't know, three years ago with these bags. And we're like, What's this lady doing? Like, this isn't how we do it. She goes, Trust me, I love her. I won't put it. We're calling her Santa Claus. If you walk in with these big bags of hints and before the pandemic, after or after, but now we have customers, blah, blah. So number one, selling on the site, one seller.
Michelle: So tell me the size, because people are either going to be listening to this or watching this. So tell me, for people that don't know this vendor, what is the draw and what's the style and what's the price point?
Kingfisher Road: Okay. The price point now they retail for 198. It's gone up a little bit. They're 98% cotton, 2% spandex. Colin Lindsay she or sales gal Lindsay is like queen of product knowledge so good or is peak but anyways they're they're great because they're super super comfortable. They're not a legging, they're not a jean. They're different. They're comfortable. You can wear them all day from wearing casual. You can wear them with a heel. You can wear them with low for tennis shoe. Yeah, I set it off pretty loud. Very flattering.
Michelle: It's a that's how I first met you guys. Like, I didn't even I didn't even know your story yet. I didn't know you guys. And it was a year before pandemic.
Kingfisher Road: And.
Michelle: I don't know what I was looking at. And it was those pants. And I reached out and you guys like you're I mean, again, back to your customer service. It was amazing you right on it responded let you know we'll have them here for you. I couldn't make it you guys. I mean, it was amazing and that's I go back.
Kingfisher Road: Yeah. So it's just, you know, what I call that, like putting in your time finding those members. It's like we've been doing this 17 years. Sometimes people find us and it's awesome and it all the stars are aligned. It hits the right customer. I'm going to say the right price point because for some reason people are okay with spending that for these. We have people 30 pairs. We have $1 like 40 something for my living. Yeah, I'm not kidding. She buys them in a couple of different sizes to where I'm different ways, you know. So yeah, it's, it's, and it doesn't matter. Like, yeah, it's, it's just awesome. Rare that someone isn't into them. And, and if they're not, it's like, not your thing. Those hands are one of the, like those things where they walk out and you see them feeling good for the first time. It's like, it's so great. That is.
Michelle: Fabrications. Their fabrications are so good. And just like that, that wax cotton that has that stretch super sexy and that's like you're saying, like me, I'll throw it on a pair of Adidas, throw it on heels. I don't wear heels, but I could.
Kingfisher Road: See how it would work.
Michelle: And rocky and, like, cute little leather jacket and.
Kingfisher Road: Yeah. And you're good. Yeah. I mean, we have people. We get orders from all over the country. All over, all over for those.
Michelle: How many pairs a week do you sell?
Kingfisher Road: I don't know, but we've sold over 2000 pairs. Oh, my God. That's 2000. Yeah, I haven't even counted it. She's still bringing them.
Michelle: In by the bag or.
Kingfisher Road: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Michelle: Wow. So you don't have it shipped to you. She actually brings it in.
Kingfisher Road: She. Yeah. That's what's awesome. She's local OC.
Kingfisher Road: So when she's and she protects us, you know, she doesn't sell around us. So that's nice, too. So it keeps it special.
Michelle: And our our friend and our rep, Jill is now repping it, I heard.
Kingfisher Road: Yes. Yeah.
Michelle: She's like, you know, there's a pair of pants. Like, what kind of pants do you wear? Is this too much of a price point? Like, are you talking about those pants? And she's like, how does she know? Like, I just had a feeling I knew.
Kingfisher Road: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Michelle: Yeah. So when you're not shopping in your store, who are some of your favorite retailers? I mean, they don't even have to be apparel or gift. They could be a specialty grocery store.
Kingfisher Road: First of all, I don't get out much. I would say like I really don't. But when we do, I love going to the part. Yeah, we love the whole row. Have you been. You've been there.
Michelle: Show. Beautiful mess is my account. She's for.
Kingfisher Road: Yeah. So we go in there. We have the we do the rounds and souls. Who's there? She's amazing.
Michelle: I love Kirstie. I had stories when I was at Fred Segal. She was there. Oh, really?
Kingfisher Road: Yeah. So, yeah, I mean, that's. I really love that. Yeah. And then, you know, pre-pandemic we used to have girlfriend days and go to the Rose Bowl. Oh, love the swamp man. I love the swamp me.
Michelle: Do you guys are you guys looking for just yourselves or you looking for the store for like props and stuff or both.
Kingfisher Road: I love I look at the Rose Bowl props, but there been times when we're like, we're not doing store stuff. We're having fun. Yeah. I mean, for I think.
Michelle: It was your 50th birthday.
Kingfisher Road: We went to the Santa monica flea market and had lunch and that was like just the best day. Yeah.
Michelle: I, you know, when you said you don't get out much, it's like I feel like I don't have much of a life. And like a couple of weeks ago, I went and met my friends who I worked at Z Gallery with and, and this is like 20 plus years ago. It's so amazing to sit outside. It was, yeah, with my friends and I was like, God, this is what it's like to have a life.
Kingfisher Road: Right?
Michelle: I mean. So I get like the flea market and make a day of it. And, and.
Kingfisher Road: Importantly.
Michelle: You don't think about work.
Kingfisher Road: You just. Yeah, and by the way, those are the things that's what is the most inspirational. You have that time to kind of clear your head. I don't like get good ideas by sitting at my desk like this, you know, I got to got to put yourself out there a little.
Michelle: Which leads me to my next question is how do you guys stay inspired?
Kingfisher Road: That's a tough one. But I will say we just continue to find new fun things that make it different. I love and also I love new. I love new. So I'm always like looking and I'm always thinking. I love thinking outside of the box lately. Oh, we had a happy surprise that Pinterest is giving us a lot of orders, which, you know.
Michelle: Is really driving their business now.
Kingfisher Road: Oh, really? So. Oh, my gosh.
Michelle: Actually, I think one of the number one social media platforms are for actual sales.
Kingfisher Road: Yeah, we got surprised by that because we do so much on Pinterest, which is Instagram and Pinterest together. We do a lot of interest. We do a lot. Also yesterday. It's interesting. It's interesting. Yeah. So anyways, so that's been inspiring. It's like new stuff inspires me, you know? Yeah, it's all. It's all. I don't know if that answer. I don't know what. Well, because I like doing something different. Do it. Like I just said earlier, it's like if you get away a little bit, that's how if you give it some space to come, it'll come if and also like, I can't get inspired if I'm not taking care of myself, if I'm not eating right, if I'm not sleeping well, there is no inspiration. I'm not feeling great, so I have to give it some room to be inspired. The world is inspiring. My customers inspire me. When I used to go to shows that would be inspiring, my daughter inspires me. My husband inspired people, all of it. But I have to start with taking care of myself and giving it some room, right? Yeah, that's good advice.
Michelle: So what's your version of self care then?
Kingfisher Road: Um. It's not one thing, that's for sure.
Michelle: I loved your post the other day with you sitting in front of the fire. It was like, I don't know what time. I seemed like. It was fine.
Kingfisher Road: I have a real.
Michelle: Fire and coffee and that to me is the ultimate self care that.
Kingfisher Road: Yeah. Even having a clean house, man. Yeah, clean house. Make my beds. Made my granddaughter. I don't know. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. What was your question? Was self care but self care? Yeah. It's just all the stuff. It's not. But I will say it's like walking. Yeah, but you also have to eat, right? I do a lot. It's interesting. I've a very, very good friend on Facebook who wrote I'm having a hard time sleeping. What? What do you do? Everyone. They're different drugs, right? Oh, I was one of them where I was.
Michelle: Yeah. What is your Tylenol? Tylenol.
Kingfisher Road: So quickly? So I go on there and I'm like, I was really tongue in cheek, but I but it's also true. I'm like, well, I journal in the morning, I journal at night, I meditate, I, I eat right. I try and walk every day. I watch TV. I don't watch I don't watch violent TV before I go to bed. No blue lights. And everyone was giving me so much shit about why you're a saint. I'm like, No, I like to sleep. And those are the things that have helped me sleep. You know, that's not at all what that.
Michelle: Does not help me sleep at all. And I do all those things. All those things I do. And I they don't help me sleep. I cannot. Oh, my God. I'm like.
Kingfisher Road: Well, I'll have another talk. We'll have another talk about it. I could pass. That's a well, yeah, I could do a whole thing about sleep, the importance of it, so experienced and all that. And you know, you have to be regular with your bedtime, all that stuff. But baby, you need a routine. Yeah, yeah, yeah. And I have big babies. The other thing I realized, it's like I would start my day on the phone working and posting, like the vocal different. And then I do my best to meditate and journal and do all that stuff. Right. Well, then you're, it's like double the work to get there. So what I realized is I don't know if this will make sense to you. It was like I couldn't end my day if there was no start to the day. Mm. Does that make sense to you. I know. So if I to have the phone, it helped me really start the day and then I can have an end to the day.
Michelle: Because once you open up I realize because I'm, I'm now trying to practice this myself is that every morning it's get up while I'm making coffee, I do my gratitude list. I'll read ten pages of a business book, not like a fun book, but like something for self, self learning, self Byron and whatnot. And then I'll do my meditation. But I realize if I go into like my Instagram or email or something like that and try and meditate, my head's already over and it's really hard to turn it off.
Kingfisher Road: Yeah. Yeah.
Michelle: Do you do any meditation? Any.
Kingfisher Road: I'm so bad. I to be honest, no. I mean, I read and that's super helpful. What I love doing is like in the morning, I mean, I guess it's kind of my version of meditation. I'll try to get up really early so that no one else is awake. I have that. Yeah.
Michelle: Daughter? How is your daughter now?
Kingfisher Road: She's seven and a half, but.
Michelle: Lately she's been.
Kingfisher Road: Getting up early and I'm like, obviously, I'm not going to say like, Oh, I want to be alone right now. Like, she's still a little young for that. She's pretty sensitive, so that would hurt her feelings. So we just hang out in the morning. But before she was getting up early, I would get up, light a candle, put my feet on the coffee table and eventually stare for like probably like 10 minutes and sort of take it all in. And then I would look at my phone. I usually like text each other every morning. I'll go post it and Nora will go, Good morning. I know I had to sort of train you. Did you notice? Yeah. No, I said good morning. I posted. Yeah.
Michelle: I'm the way.
Kingfisher Road: I wake up text by AM posted and like I haven't had my coffee yet so I'm like.
Michelle: How about it? Good morning, mom.
Kingfisher Road: Yeah, yeah. So yeah, I always if I'm texting anyone in the morning, I always like to say good morning or hi or How are you before I just jump right into it. But as far as meditation, I don't meditate.
Michelle: It's it's not everybody does it. I just, you know, and I always I'm always interested in everybody's best practices when it comes to before you get to your store or your job or whatever, it's like, how do you how do you start your day? Is it frenetic from the beginning or does it get calm towards it? And it's interesting always to hear everybody's the people that I feel like have the most. Balanced are the ones that start off kind of quiet, lighting a candle, hanging out, just getting like even if that's not technically purposely getting centered, just sitting and just being, I feel like is what starts your day.
Kingfisher Road: To.
Michelle: How as opposed to like straight off the bat scanning through Instagram and which I sadly I will do from time to time. But I'm trying very hard not to because I, I had to cut it off because it's like it's just non stop stuff.
Kingfisher Road: But that's what I mean. It's, that's, that's what I mean by the loop doesn't actually add. I remember when like Facebook or like my whatever it used to end the feed would end. Oh that's true. It doesn't that's true then. Yeah. And Facebook man that's a whole other. It's just become so. Mama.
Michelle: Nobody. Nobody was going to work. No one had anything else to do other than sit on social media. So before, I don't want to get too far along, but I do want to find out. I had said your philosophy on markdowns, and I love your philosophy of markdowns. So you're going to tell me about your philosophy and then tell me about your new venture.
Kingfisher Road: My philosophy is at that very core is if it hasn't sold in 60 to 90 days, get rid of it. Yeah.
Michelle: So what's your version?
Kingfisher Road: It makes room. It makes room for new stuff and it's not selling anyways, so.
Michelle: I just get rid. So what is your what's your OC like? Some people see 50% sell through as a success or what's your what's your thought on at what point do you go this is a bomb other.
Kingfisher Road: Than you also have a full size friend that's very the customer has spoken. Yeah right. If there's one or two styles we might hang on to it depending on the size that it is and how we've ordered it. But I really, really like to clean things out. I just I think it's a disservice to the customer. We have so many like weekly customers who come in like OC. I've seen this, they need some eye candy, they need some freshness. So so yeah, that's my philosophy. I think that's your it's really just numbers don't lie and honestly you could even tell two weeks afterwards you can tell you know you really can. Sometimes. Sometimes, yeah. Sometimes you get surprised. It depends on what's going on in the world. You know, I.
Michelle: I think I said this like I grew up in the land of Fred Segal and.
Kingfisher Road: Fred the.
Michelle: Day. I mean, it was like I was there in the nineties, so it was like the economy was booming and it was you only had sale once a year and once a year you held on to the crap that you bought and passed that shit up and sat on it for a year and then dragged it all out and it was like, but you know, it's I think now when I think about it, it's like it's totally unrealistic to think of like that thought of like we're going to hold on to for a year because it's $5. And not a lot of people are like fans of sale. Like one of my accounts. It's like I just I feel like we're training the customer.
Kingfisher Road: To understand that.
Michelle: Stuff. So what is your thought on that? Like, is, is do you have that or is it still customers?
Kingfisher Road: Yeah. You know, we have people who just come in for the sale and God bless them, you know? I love that. Yeah. So, like, exactly where we're supposed to be. Yeah, we we have customers who hate sales. We have customers who love sales and have customers who do both, you know? So I have to let it go. I have to let it go. If they're not buying it, you don't about training the customer. If it's not working, it's not working. No. Yeah, yeah. It's just not working. So you have to kind of you have to really let that go and be willing to face up to your mistakes. It's not easy as a buyer to like. It's hard. It's really hard to let go. Oh, my God. Like that whole, you know, we might have bought deep into a line we really believed in or there was some big weather change election. Well, sometimes I feel like something will do really well. I'm like, let's get all the colors. Yeah.
Michelle: And then it just dies.
Kingfisher Road: So that's what we hoped.
Michelle: And that was. That was last time.
Kingfisher Road: It is.
Michelle: But that was me with animal prints going to magic in every single much like tie dye every day. There was nothing else to buy but animals. Yeah. And then it gets to the pharmacy. And guess what? The pharmacy customers are not big fans of animal print. And it was like, oh my God, I heard about those animal prints and I'm not selling for fucking weeks. I was like, okay.
Kingfisher Road: Stick it.
Kingfisher Road: They'll put it on sale. Yeah, yeah, you got it. You got to be willing. And here's the deal. If you're putting something on sale and you're not giving them something new, that's when it's awful. Yeah. If you if you're buying the way you should be and getting back into something new, it's fine. They don't care. They don't. They really, really, really don't care because they never bought it. Right. It's not like it's not like worth that thing. Go with that site. They never liked it. So buy. Yeah you know.
Michelle: So with this philosophy tell me about your new venture.
Kingfisher Road: Well, okay, first of all, obvious reasons we aren't able to do our famous twice a year sale. So Kyle had this idea, you know, backtrack her garage. Oh, my garage garage is filled with stuff because we were closed for three months. Yeah, we were closed for three months, and it just really started adding up. We had to get a storage unit of a new or new receipts.
Michelle: What was adding up?
Kingfisher Road: Yeah. From last year. Last year when we were closed and people not doing the shopping that they were doing and us not being able to have sales and. So we an extra inventory. We tried. We were closed for a week for appointment only for sales. We tried. We did comment sold sales and whatever wouldn't sell. From that, we would still keep because before like there wasn't much left over from when we would have our sales. But what was we would donate. Yeah, we would. So yeah. So I just thought what if I were to get a small space and just have it be a sale location and we could just feed it. And I that's what so I started thinking about like, you know, like there's something that's brewing. It was brewing. I'd go to bed thinking about it, and then I kept going, What are we going to do for a day? And then I realized, like, the first thing I have to do is get it out of my garage. I felt like it was creeping into my bedroom at night. The clothes. Yeah.
Michelle: Look at it. You look at it every single day.
Kingfisher Road: Yeah. It was just really, really weighing on my psyche, actually. So once I got it into storage, it's kind of going back to that inspiration thing. Getting rid of it gave it some room to kind of create this idea of like, okay, so what am I going to do with that? That's like a lot of merchandise. So started looking. Started looking. I mean, quick. We were quick. We tend to work quick once we've made the decision. And I said to Lowe, I'm like, Well, who's going to run it if we do this idea? And she goes, I will. So she's she's pretty much running it. And we have someone else there calling who's who's a lifesaver there right now, too, but very limited hours.
Michelle: It doesn't run on the same.
Kingfisher Road: Yeah, very limited hours, which I can't I can't stop it. So we are looking for somebody though. But so yeah. So that's, I don't know if that answers your question, but that's pretty much. Oh, so it's a forever sale and every day every day is a sale is the tagline. And what's great is we get our money back sooner. So what you were saying about Fred Segal, I'm not waiting to. It's like, okay, so this is a working bye to the annex. Hey, guys, we got this new thing. They go buy it in half off. At least I'm getting my money back.
Michelle: That was my next question, getting people there, because you guys on social media, like like finally leaked it. I knew you guys had been talking about and you had put it in motion, then you finally leaked it. How are you? Much like Kingfisher. Are you doing Instagrams from there? Showing. I think I saw a low doing one the other day showing for you, treating it the same as far as like marketing. Are you doing the same kind of marketing is.
Kingfisher Road: Like, no, it's different. Different. But we have like such a great following with our Kingfisher wrote Instagram and Facebook. So we started an Instagram for the annex to get the views for it. We'll post it on Kingfisher and then tag the Instagram. And we've actually it's fun having like, you know, all new followers. It's it's in a very cute area. That's the thing. It's a destination place for Kingfisher that we do get traffic from Starbucks or the nail place or whatever or we did from before. But this place is like in a neighborhood just south of Ventura, right around the corner from us. Yeah.
Michelle: So is it close to the store or close to your homes?
Kingfisher Road: Both.
Michelle: Well, okay. Well, we're hilarious at the same time. So how close is it to the store?
Kingfisher Road: 3 minutes to our car or the Trader Joe's is on Alabama and Ventura.
Michelle: I do. I'm not as familiar with Woodland Hills as I am Agora and.
Kingfisher Road: Oh, okay. Well, like Topanga and Ventura, maybe a mile and a half away or not. And it's in a cute location. We're close to a really cute hair salon that does very well. So a lot of people from there come and then people who have wanted our sales go there. Yeah, but the customer is still learning and they're still learning it and the hours are limited. So so it's a, it's a new it's a new venture. So we're earning our. Ernie. You're sure is great. Yeah. Had a good day yesterday, so. Yeah.
Michelle: How have the sales been?
Kingfisher Road: Good. Yeah, good. I mean, but there's been a few days where we're like, Oh, yeah, I've been in retail a long time. I still freak out when it's a slow down. All right, fine. This is. We're done. Wow, I'm serious. And then other days, I'm like, Oh. Retail. Yeah. Retail. So sometimes there's a reason, and sometimes there's just no reason. You know, it's such a energy thing. Yeah, but we just, you know, we do a lot of we have maps at the Kingfisher Road store that leads them to the annex. And a lot of people shop those stores on the same day. So that's fun.
Michelle: Is the annex online if people want to shop online or it's all online?
Kingfisher Road: Yeah, but it's not its own website. It's just our sale merchandise. That's all that's on our website. So we have like a sales section, so and that's a big like process too is like we'll get a sale sale like a discounted sale on our website. So someone that has to go in the morning, bring it to the our regular store where people pick up or ship. Yeah. So it's, it's a lot of steps with such a great team and everyone has their own part, but they just it's amazing.
Michelle: Well, ladies, thank you so much for joining me. I'm super excited for people to hear this and hear your story. And I will have links in the bio for people to follow your social media as well as go online to your store and shop your store. And I, I mean, I still can't believe I haven't met you yet.
Kingfisher Road: I know, I know, but I don't. I feel like we have.
Michelle: I know, but.
Kingfisher Road: Okay, so I'm not crazy because I kept thinking I'm like. Like when I met you because I thought I had.
Michelle: It's so bizarre. It's like it's there's a lot of people that I'm friends with through Instagram, but like I'm closest to Kelly, like just an age and both like going back and forth and it's like, thank God. But it's I truly feel like every time I'm like in like, paradise or that area, I swear to God, I should just go by the store. Yes. Oh, my God. I need to. I just because I live in Redondo. So I finished there. Like, I just want to like yesterday's commute home. Oh, my God. It was too bad it was 2 hours in because that accident on the 405 and that.
Kingfisher Road: 700 and.
Michelle: Then it was still a sig alert when I left yesterday afternoon at two. So most of the time I just like, I just want to go home, but I need to go and spend like a day because I never even have a chance to go through with and centers like you guys were talking about because same thing I get to beautiful mess like at five in the morning and I get at noon. I'm like, I go home.
Kingfisher Road: I promise I will see.
Michelle: My hours or my, oh.
Kingfisher Road: My God, you're hours. And like on your stories, you're like, I'm in the parking lot. I don't know. It's just very funny. I'm in a parking lot and waiting for them to open up. I excited. I'm just so excited. You're so funny. You're such a hard worker. I really admire you. You're really, really, really great.
Michelle: I really, you know, it's like I really love what I do. And I.
Kingfisher Road: Think because across the.
Michelle: Last couple of days in San Jose, it's like I, I think I walk away from it going, I'm so lucky to do something I love. And then I get to go to another store. And the next day, like, I'm like when I was at Anthro, I got out because it's like you're reinventing the same inside the same four walls. And after a while, it's like it's very hard to think outside of like, new. I mean, you can go on, go through magazines and get ideas, but after a while you have a point where it's like, I just can't I can't re-imagine this anymore, right? And now I'm lucky I get to do what I love. And then next day I'm somewhere totally different, which is totally different. Set up totally. I can go somewhere else the next day, but thank you. That means a lot because I am glad it shows because I really I really love what I do.
Kingfisher Road: Yeah, you can tell.
Michelle: Thanks you guys too.
Kingfisher Road: And I'm excited for your new venture too. This is exciting. Good for you.
Michelle: So, you know, when we did when I was doing the live, even though we didn't have like hundreds of people, but I had so many people that were like, this is so amazing. You still need to keep doing it. And I was like, as soon as honestly, I was back at work, I wasn't off very long because beautiful message. We're opening our new store. And then she was selling so much online, she was like, I don't care if I'm not open. I still want you to come in and do all the tabletops again. I was like, But there's no I'm coming in.
Kingfisher Road: Yeah. It's like, I.
Michelle: Want it to look good. It's important. So. I was back at work, so I didn't have time to do the lives anymore. And then I really started thinking about like a certain point, like 55 I am. And it's like at what point, like how long the broken foot had a lot to do with it. It's like, how long am I going to be able to continue to be on a ladder, schlepping merchandise, driving for dinner? And then I realized, like, there's so much great content with all these people and all these women I talked to you and like all these great stories and like so many people could learn something, even like one little tidbit to learn. Like that's why your sale information, it's like, I feel like that's the biggest lesson 90% of retailers need to learn is learning, turning your inventory and you're open to buy. But so many people like so think sale is a bad thing. And it's like it's not it's it's so even if that little tidbit is what people are able to walk away with, like, I'm super stoked. I'm, I'm excited about this. I mean, it's, it's a total. Like, out of, like, out of my comfort zone. I get to do what I love and talk to people.
Kingfisher Road: And there you go. Good. So good to talk to you.
Michelle: Enjoy your afternoon. I appreciate everything, you guys.
Kingfisher Road: Okay. Take care. Hi.
Michelle: And that is a wrap. Thank you all so much for joining me on today's episode. I really appreciate it. And be sure to tune in every Wednesday for more stories and lessons from a life in retail. And don't forget to follow us on Instagram at Retail Whore Podcast, and you can find us online at the retailwhorepodcast.com