S+J is a Lifestyle Boutique featuring Men's, Women's, Kids, Pets, Vinyl, Home + Gifts in our 3 story shop, (4 including their open-air rooftop where they host fashion shows, trunk shows, pop-ups + always a DJ + dance party)!
Jamie spent the first 15 years of her career in Retail at Target Corporation. She started there in Merchandising in Girls Toys, then was promoted to a Buyer position in School Supplies and Home Office. She then moved into the Marketing Team, first in a Licensing role and then into Advertising for Apparel & Accessories. She spent her last 9 years there working on and leading the Internal Events Team. She was responsible for Board Meetings all the way up to 10,000 person National Team Meetings with guest speakers, musicians, fashion shows and more!
She left her role at Target when she couldn't balance two big jobs within retail in one family and took the opportunity to stay home with her two young boys for several years. She was Room Parent, co-chaired school fundraisers and cheered my boys on from the sidelines at all their soccer, basketball and lacrosse matches, all while fine-tuning her vision for the shop and "visually re-merchandising" her house for each holiday!
Michelle & Jamie jump right into it discussing her career at Target, meeting her now-husband, also at Target and how her passion for fashion and her husband’s passion for music ultimately inspired them to open Serge + Jane.
ep-23 Owner Founder of Serge & Jane / Jamie Carl
Hey there. I'm Michelle Sherrier, and This is the retail whore podcast, the stories and Lessons from the Life and Retail.
Michelle: Hello. Hello. Welcome back, everybody. You know, a question I get very, very often from most of my clients is why don't you open a store? You know, you've spent a lifetime in retail. You've seen it all, you've done it all. Why don't you open a store again? And I almost too quickly say, hell, no, not not because of any other reason other than, you know, honestly, I absolutely love what I do. And only until, you know, last we're here in Atlanta right now setting up the Peking handicraft showroom and art floral trading showroom. And we went to Ponce Market. And it's this amazing. You know, they take old buildings here in Atlanta and they turn them into these multi vendor spaces. So there's a whole food court and then there's restaurants, anthropology's here, J Cruise here, there's some other indie stores, and they create these amazing community spaces where you can go and grab dinner and they have events where the kids can run and play. Right now they have an ice skating rink. And, you know, when I was in the Williams-Sonoma space and I can't believe I'm saying this just because it's a big box store. But when I was in the Williams-Sonoma space, it was the first time in years that I actually turned around to my husband and said, I, I kind of miss having a store. Like, I love this feeling. And maybe because it's Christmas and because in some weird sense I do miss having my own store. But I can tell you right now today's guest, Jamie Karl of Serge and Jane. Her husband, Casey herself opened their own space after spending 20 years for Casey and 15 for Jamie at Target and going through the ranks of Target and walked away from it and started their own brand. And when I say this store is an experience like none other, they literally, between the two of them bootstrapped and created a space that is community that has events for the community, that there's things for the kids to do. It is three floors. It sounds the closest to Anthropologie and Urban Outfitters that I've ever heard. And these two did it themselves. And I am so excited to bring you this this interview, because I have a chance to ask Jamie about her time at Target, which Target to me is kind of like Anthropologie, where there is some sense you don't know the behind the scenes and you want to know about.
Michelle: So we have a chance to kind of pull the curtain back a little bit on target and then we get to hear about how they created Sarah Jane. Jane So without further ado, here's my interview with Jamie Karl of Sarah and Jane. Hi Jamie. Welcome to the Retail Whore Podcast. I am so grateful to have this time with you. I know we tried to record this earlier and we had some malfunctioning issues and thank you for coming back on and doing this with me. I really feel like I know you now.
Both: What else can I tell you?
Michelle: So what I want to start with is what I ask everybody. How old were you when you had your first job and what was your first job?
Jamie: Okay. I hope I answer this in way as I did last time. Well, it doesn't matter. If you asked me if I had a better answer last time. Let's see. So my actual first job was I worked at Wendy's, but then I quickly left Wendy's when the finish line, the athletic shoe department called me. I had applied there first and they didn't have any openings. So I started at Wendy's with my my girlfriend because I couldn't drive at the time. So she had to drive me back and forth. But I eventually moved over to the finish line and was a it was my first experience with retail and my first I think it made me fall in love with retail, to be honest with you, even though it was nothing like anything I continued to do. But I, yeah, I loved it. I knew I wanted to be there. I was a greeter at the front. Basically, he put a couple of cute girls up. It was in a mall and he put a couple of cute girls up at the front to talk to people as they walked by and get him to come in the store. So how old were you? I was 16.
Michelle: Okay. I think of all the retail jobs. Shoes would be the biggest nightmare solely because of, like, I think of people when they're going through shoes. Like look at shoe departments and I look at the poor people, like the guys in Nordstrom's and there's like somebody there with like 15 boxes that they're trying to carry out. And it's like one shoe after another shoot. I'm like, Oh, my God, it's like three. One of the girls.
Jamie: It was really fun at the time. It was when this is really going to date me. But like the Andre Agassi was really big with the he had some colors in his white tennis shoes, which was really revolutionary at the time. And we were selling like the they were kind of like Salt-N-Pepa, like eight ball leather jackets and they were getting into a little bit. It was kind of streetwear. It was like the first my first exposure and experience with streetwear. So being from a small town in Indiana, like I thought it was very cool and very cosmopolitan that I was, that I was working in shoes. But yeah, the, the restocking and hanging from the back shelves, like in the back of the ladders and how I fell in love with retail from that that side of the business was really kind of questionable. But because it was dangerous, I felt like we were like reaching and scaling these huge walls back there. But yeah, it was really it was a really fun time. Even looking back on it now, I can see why what I thought was so cool about it and appreciate what I learned there.
Michelle: How long were you there?
Jamie: So I worked there through the summer, through probably two summers in a full school year until I went to college actually. And then I had such a great relationship with our store manager there, Ross, at the time that I even went back and I didn't really work for him over the holidays, but I did go in and check on how sales were doing, how Holiday was doing for him, and every time I was home I would go back in the shop. So we were hooked from retail. Was I don't even know what I mean because I of course would have been in the mall anyway, but he was there for a couple of years after I left. So yeah, I still felt like I had a connection to the store and wanted to know what was up and how things were doing.
Michelle: And that speaks volumes, I think, for one, how long you were there for because I don't think anybody there's very few people that I know in high school that kept jobs that long.
Both: Yeah, yeah.
Michelle: It's like in and out a holiday at Christmas or whatever, like two and a half years. It seems like it's a long time for your first job and to continue to go back. I mean, it seems like it's kind of ended up being like family.
Jamie: Yeah, a little bit. He would yell at us in Spanish and I'm sure called us all kinds of inappropriate names and. But it was fun. It was a fun atmosphere. And he pushed us and, you know, thinking about being 16, 17 years old at the time, like he'd set sales goals for us every day and we'd have contests over the weekend to see who could sell the most to cleaner and to polishes. And it was a it was actually kind of challenging like he expected things of us that I don't know if you could get kids this age to to really be motivated by you know I think we'd win like 20 bucks if we sold the most shoe cleaner. But at the time it was kind of a big deal. And yeah, he really did teach me a lot.
Michelle: We I have always said like your first jobs, like for like when you can find a boss that challenges you and pushes you, that I feel like that work ethic is kind of what carries. I mean, I know from my restaurant job that I had when I was younger, like my boss expected so much and he was such like he rode me and it was like that wanting to please him, but also continuing to keep up with what the expectation was is kind of what I feel like in some sense drove me to to where I am now. It's like just because it's true, like I don't know how many. There's a few kids that I've had intern that have had that drive and that motivation where you could give them goals and they actually really strive to make it as well as they're totally motivated by a contest, which I still think is the best thing on earth for retailers to do is contest.
Both: Yeah, yeah.
Michelle: We would do pizza, pizza contests, I think from my old job just to get everybody like riled up and hopefully have a pizza party at the end of the day.
Both: I mean, that.
Michelle: That Fred's, you know, especially during the sale when you never really left the store sales floor, you couldn't leave to go get lunch. The lines to get food were way too long because it was all like hundreds of customers. So we would do contests or whoever sold whatever and we'd do a pizza party and like bring everybody in lunch and cokes and salads and it was fun. It definitely makes for a fun atmosphere.
Jamie: Yeah, that's cool. I definitely buy a lot of treats and a lot of lunches, but maybe I need to add the contest element to it. So you see who's competitive in our group of in our team right now.
Michelle: How long you once you went to college, what did you go to college for? Was it was it for marketing and retail or is it completely different?
Jamie: This won't surprise you. So. I was a I was a double major in international business and marketing, and I had a minor in Western European studies because I started I had had two years of Japanese in high school and then I thought I was going to study Japanese along with my marketing. But it was it was much more difficult at the college level and I couldn't quite cut it second semester. My first, my two years of high school got me through my first and second semester, got really tough. So I dropped Japanese and I ended up doing just a international business degree. And because of that I had to study something else international. So I did Western European studies, which I talk to my kids about now, and they they kind of laugh at me that there's no way I learned anything from those classes, but I try to pretend I know what I'm talking about. When we start talking about.
Michelle: Western European studies.
Jamie: We studied a lot about the world wars and not so much geography. That's where they really like, call my bluff that there's no way I could have studied that in college. But yeah, it was fascinating, but I just didn't retain any of it. That's the issue. Like I don't really understand some of the, the consequences that came out of some of that stuff that as well as I should have considering I took so many hours of business classes around it.
Michelle: But and then where did you go post college?
Jamie: So I started actually right away at Target. Two of the senior vice presidents at Target at the time had graduated from the business school that it's now called the Kelley School of Business at Indiana, which is where I graduated from. So they came back and recruited really heavily from the business school at one time because Target's based in Minnesota. At one time, Indiana had the second largest number of graduates at Target after the University of Minnesota. And one of them told me that they had they recruited so heavily from IU because the business school was such a it's such it ranks really high within business schools anyway. But then also also the students can make the transition to the Minnesota winters easier than coming from a lot of other geographic locations. So they found that Indiana students could be hardy in the Minnesota winters.
Michelle: You're Target story and your background with Target is so fascinating and I can't wait to kind of unpack that with everybody right now with you. So tell me how how you came into Target and give me a little bit of the breakdown of like your education through them because they have a phenomenal program. And I think you were you came along through the school of it where it was like the very beginning, it seems like, and it was. Like. Amazing time.
Jamie: Yeah. So I interviewed with them right out of right as I was graduating. They were the first retailer because I knew I wanted to be in retail. I did get an offer actually from the finish line. I don't know if I told you that before, but everybody that I interviewed with that I got an offer from required a couple of years on the sales floor and I really felt like I had done that. I really felt like, why did I just go to school for four years of if I'm going to be essentially the same thing that I was doing pre college. And Target was the first one that came in and offered their analyst position require that you started at headquarters. So their tracks are are very different. You you start on a store track or you start on a headquarters track. And they do have some people move, but they're very different. So they don't require that you that you have store experience with them before you come to headquarters or management. So that was really appealing and I just liked their vibe. It was right when they were starting. I was there when they were starting the design series. Michael Graves was their first designer. You know, they were kind of starting to establish their target marketing and mentality, more mentality. They never really needed that in their marketing slogans themselves, but they were really becoming a retailer to watch and they were. So it felt like a super interesting and exciting time to join the team. So I started there right out of college. I got to start right at the headquarters in the inventory and buying offices. They do a three month training program before you ever you ever take on a category or do anything solo. So that was exciting. There were 60 of us in the training class, all right, out of college. So it kind of felt like a little bit of a retail frat coming into a city you've never I had never lived in before and and automatically had 60 friends that were in this same boat. I was I started in boys and girls toys. And it was it was the holiday after Tickle Me Elmo.
Jamie: So they were a lot of my coworkers had talked about how the Elmos were being stolen out of their cubes and how it was just such a frenzy that year with the Tickle Me Elmo and my I came into my category with those one of my categories was those and Dennis Bears. They were like baby dolls dressed in bear suits that were based on her calendars. And they expected them to be as big as the Tickle Me Elmo. So we bought really heavy and we plan front cover circular ads for them. And needless to say, they were not as popular as the Tickle Me Elmo is. I don't know that many people remember them, but it was also a challenge for an inventory from an inventory perspective, you know, because they were the white dolls, the African American dolls, they had all the different ethnicities, but then they also had the different fur suits. And it was really it was a really tough and they were imported. So it was a really tough time to be starting toys. But I did well enough that they kept me. I guess they they gave me a lot of slack because I was the only one of the 60 that was actually placed in toys. So they my teammates were for a couple of years, a couple of years, most of them. And they would say that I was the trial, that if I could survive, that they would continue to let them place graduates from Indiana in the department. But if I did that, they were done with I.U. grads because most of them were from the University of Minnesota. So I survived low enough, but I.
Michelle: Have a question. So when you guys are all like, when Target has these classes because they're they're based there, is it like a whole campus situation or are you guys like because I don't I mean, everyone in the world knows how big target is. I don't think many of us understand the umbrella of the corporation, like, are you in one big giant building? And then there's a campus floor, part portion of that that you're all going to school in. And it's like, is there a cafeteria? Like, how so many questions?
Jamie: Yeah, a little bit. So there is a much bigger campus now. But when I started, we were all in a in a single business tower for the most part, downtown Minneapolis. And there were only 60 of us in that. We started in June and there was only 60 of us in that training class. But it had been the biggest training class of analysts that they had started. So we we broke up into training group A and training tree and everybody in a would do the computer work at once and then B would be in like a classroom type setting and then we would have to flip. So after us, they never hired more than 30 people at a time and I think they hired four times a year. They had. Four classes starting four times a year because they found it was too hard to have more than 30 because they didn't have enough computers at the time or at the time in the training rooms. So they we were kind of just odd from the very beginning and which made it kind of cool, like we would travel impacts to the cafeteria and people would be like, Oh, are you guys the June training class? Know because we didn't separate very easily. And to see 6021 year olds all coming at the the salad bar line, you knew who, you knew who we were. So it was kind of a it was really fun. And there were still several of my girls that I hit ended up becoming roommates with and dear friends with that are still there. And it wasn't there wasn't a lot of us still there when I left, but there was definitely a handful of my some of my closest friends were still there.
Michelle: I love that it's well, it sounds very much like a college atmosphere. I mean.
Both: Yeah, it was. And so.
Michelle: And you all lived there, so they weren't having to put you up or because.
Jamie: Like. Right, right. So we relocated and I lived with a friend from college, but he actually worked at Cargill, which is another big privately held corporation here in Minneapolis. But a lot of the other Indiana grads live together because they had known each other on campus and then kind of buddied up and moved up here together. But I didn't know anybody out of those 60 people. I came up here with a friend that had worked. He had gotten a job in technology with another corporation, and it just worked out. But yeah, we all had our own apartments and lived where we wanted to, but they did help us with housing if we wanted recommendations on where to live downtown. And so yeah, it was kind of like an extended college experience.
Michelle: So after you all graduate that program and now you're in your analyst for buying for toys.
Michelle: I know you made a switch there, but usually a lot of people do not.
Jamie: Target does not. So my next step was they had created this really small program where they were going to take people from the inventory side and let them become assistant buyers. Normally there was not that track. You had to do the analyst position and then you went to manage analysts and then you started in the buying track. Once you had all of that financial and inventory experience, which was really smart, but they wanted to see if they could make it a little more back and forth. Let's get them some inventory. Let's get them some buying. Let's get them some inventory. Let's get them some buying. So they took 15 of us and moved us over to these assistant buyer positions. And I was in school supplies back to school and school supplies. And sadly, I think for Target, I fell in love with that side and didn't want to go back and then manage a bunch of 22 year olds running inventory anymore. So and I love that job. I was there for almost two years and we had some great years. We did. We blasted our numbers for the year and I thought, Well, this isn't so hard. I want to be a buyer. But I also wasn't really doing anything with my marketing degree and I knew that the marketing was really what what, especially at the time, because Target was really then getting into it. They had launched Isaac Mizrahi and got into some of these campaigns that really, really took them into the next stratosphere from a marketing side. And so I did I kind of pulled a maneuver that they did not really support, but I asked to start interviewing and advertising instead of going back and managing an inventory and instead of managing a team of inventory analysts. So I got a little penalized for that for a few months now.
Michelle: We have to unpack that for a sec. What is kind of look like.
Jamie: So I'm sure this is not on the record, but I did my my division at the time, canceled some of my travel and I didn't get to go to some of the stationery shows that I was booked for. And I kind of just pissed her off a little bit because she had really wanted me to stay in her division and manage, manage either that I was buying for or to move over and manage towels or different a different category within her division, which which was a tribute to me. She really supported me and saw a potential for me. And she was a tough cookie, too. So to gain her respect and to know that I was valued by her was a big deal. But then I kind of made her a little a little annoyed and angry at me when I decided to, that I did not want to stay in merchandising. And that really wasn't anything anybody could did at the time. But within a few months, she kind of, I think, was like, okay, she's. This is what she's want to do. She's. I know she's kind of put up with some of this, like not getting to go to the show that she was scheduled for and not getting to do the travel that she was booked in. And so then she had my senior buyer say, okay, you can start interviewing and advertising. And she kind of helped me with some informational interviews and some contacts and advertising, and I got to move over to the licensing team, which was a great natural fit because I had been in toys and school supplies and those were really heavily licensed categories. So I do think she ended up helping me in setting it up in the long run, but.
Michelle: I'm sure begrudgingly but I mean, there's a huge amount of time that is is put into you as a as an employee to develop you. And then you start you start exceeding goals and you start exceeding numbers. Then I'm sure it begins like I don't really want to lose her.
Jamie: Yeah. Yeah, exactly. And they didn't that really wasn't a career path. Like you didn't really change pyramids at the time. You know, if you were hired in marketing, you worked your way up in marketing. And if you were hired and you stayed in merchandising and merchandising, of course, everyone perceives as the sexy, cool area to be in and everyone wants to be a buyer. So it it just wasn't something that people came in and said, now I want to try advertising. But like I said, I don't think it would have happened without her support either. So I'm grateful for them. The how it kind of shook out in the end, but it was a little tough.
Michelle: Well, I guess that helps you toughen up a little bit and understand it was worth it was worth the wait and it was worth the the push to to move on to this next career, because it sounds like the next portion of what you did was rather amazing. And it sounds this is where you met your husband. Correct. So we were at the same training class, the same analyst trading class from the beginning. In the beginning, he just was from Minnesota. So we didn't cross paths a lot. But I was in a group that was I can't remember if I was A or B at the time, but when we first started, I was let's say I was in the B group, everybody from Indiana was in the A group, and I was like, Well, how did I get in this big group with everybody else that is from here? So he had his obligations outside of work. He had his friends and he had his soccer teams and he was coaching. And so we didn't our paths really didn't cross when we were, you know, kind of getting to know each other and stuff because he just would work and leave. And where I was like, Hey, who wants to go to the bar after work? Who wants to go to play bocce ball? You know, like I was trying to make friends and trying to especially not having any, having any connections within my group of training classes, the group within my training class. So yeah, within a year we had a one year anniversary, happy hour, and that's when we really kind of connected because we had set close to each other in that training class and you would have thought we had been become more friendly. But he was busy and I was I had different priorities than he did. He was working and I was just trying to get to know people and trying to figure out Minneapolis. And he was established here and his group of friends. And it also helped that he was no longer dating the woman that he had dated in college. And and when you're happy, we were all ready to we had to celebrate and let loose that we had survived our first year at Target.
Michelle: And there was a bunch of us that were single at the time. And he and I kind of that was kind of when we first realized that we might be interested in each other and hung out again after that. I love that. I love more because we haven't really talked about your story yet, but I, I, I love the fact that you both came out of Target together and you both are so design savvy and you both have obviously going through the same education together. That could only have helped what you guys are doing now. But I do want to hear a little bit so everyone can hear a little bit about like like what I still say is like the freaking dream job that you had ultimately target. Like, tell us about that. Because I am like every single time I hear the story, I'm so envious.
Jamie: Yeah. So I did. I think I did too, almost two years in the licensing area. So, you know, that was super cool. I got to deal with Hello Kitty and Hello Kitty was working with Paul Frank and we launched SpongeBob. We took over, you know, the kids back wall, which was 24 feet and the kids department was SpongeBob. And it was our first company wide licensing program where if you went into automotive, you could find the SpongeBob steering wheel. And if you went into kids, you could find the SpongeBob toys. Like it was the first time that we had really concentrated on owning a license. Wow. So I felt like that was really cool. Like I'd gotten to do really cool things, but they. There was. One job, like when I was a brand new analyst. We had these national meetings every August and they brought all of the team leaders from all across the US, the store team leaders. So the most senior person in the store into Minneapolis and each pyramid head would talk about what was priority for the holiday and then going into the next year. So the head of HR or the head of marketing and I sat there and watched it was John Pellegrin at the time that first year. Talk about marketing and how we were supporting in toys was obviously a big topic of his. So I felt like he was talking to me like, how are we going to support these and get us upstairs? And I leaned over to my mentor at the time and I said, Who is this guy I want this job like? So he was the CMO, the chief marketing officer, and she kind of rolled her eyes at me and she's like, Yeah, I think everybody wants that job. But so I kind of I never got to be the chief marketing officer at Target, obviously, but I did. There was an opening on the internal events team and they were actually the ones that put together those big meetings every year, as well as meetings every week and ended up being big meetings about monthly. But there was an opening on that team. It was only a team of three people at the time and they were adding headcount and I was like, That's the job I want.
Jamie: I had worked with them, we had done these licensing exposes what we called them at the time, where we brought all of our licensors to Minneapolis and the target buyers could walk through what their new properties were going to be for the next year. They could see clips of their cartoons and clips of their movies. And when I was in licensing, I got to work with that internal events team to to plan those two of those. So I already had kind of a relationship with the manager and the, the other woman on her team and I slid right in there and got that job and kind of the rest was history. I was on that team for almost ten years. Once I, I came in and I was leading meetings and then by the end of it, I was leading the team and I think we were about up to 14 people when I left. And we had kind of been absorbed into a bigger a bigger team called we were kind of meetings and production and it was a team of about 50 people. But we did we did those large scale meetings for every pyramid head. So if distribution was having a big meeting, we did that and if HR was having a big team meeting, we did that. Or if marketing was bringing all of their marketing partners together like Duracell. And the baby formula is like we brought 3000 people to Minneapolis to, to talk about the marketing messages and where to put our marketing dollars.
Michelle: I mean the. Travel. The travel budget for that is just like I think I told you before when I was at Anthropologie, before the changes that have been made in the last however many years they would fly the lead merchandiser and the lead manager to Philly to the main and the property. Then Anthropologie was housed in this amazing multi storied Victorian home of the whole, like it was the holiday party. So you'd hear from everybody, like you were saying, the air and what the goals were. And then they would also do the visual rollout of what your holiday was going to look like. So one room was done up and it was insane. And then all the events after and I at that time, I think I was 27 and I think I'd said to you, like the, the, it was an amazing experience. What I hated was that they thought it would be a good idea to room you with another merchandiser, somebody that does job in another part of the country and room you together so you could get to know someone. And I think at that point I was 27 or 28, so I was on the older side and I was like, I'm sorry, I've spent 13 hours with you. Like, I don't want to go back to a hotel room. And spent. Another however many hours before you go to sleep with you. I was like, but those that they stopped doing that just for an anthro small compared to it, they stopped doing that because the costs were I can't even imagine when you're talking about weekly meetings and that many people. And then, you know, the part that I want you to talk about was like the holiday rollout and like the fact that you guys bring in these major, major celebrities to do speaking. Or was it Michael Bublé that saying like that is I can't even imagine like how amazing that would be to put together, but how much that cost.
Jamie: Yeah. So a lot of meetings we worked on outside of the national meeting were the this the transportation partners or the marketing partners. They paid for their own their own hotel rooms and their own travel because they were partners of Target. They weren't. Key members of Target, which was good, but we did also have to book room blocks and you know, so we did have a travel team that helped us with a lot of that, but we worked with them hand in hand. So what you're saying about people having to share rooms? I was always that was always the most it felt like the most non target branded experience was that our team members were sharing rooms by the time because when I left the meeting had grown to about 10,000 people and there just weren't that many rooms in Minneapolis. So when I started it was closer to the thousands, like, so we could manage that. But then towards the end people were rooming and I was always like, Oh, this just does not feel like what we stand for. But it was kind of the same situation where they were paired up and we did give them the option on their registration form to try to find their own, their own person to room with. But we did pair them if they didn't have if they didn't sign up with anybody. So that was probably the worst part of my job. But yeah, yeah. So the meeting grew. We, I mean, it was still pretty big when I started as an analyst, but it did get we had a new CMO at the time. He had come up through Dayton's and Marshall Fields, which Target had owned or they had owned Target at first, and then it had kind of flipped. But so he had been at Target most of his career as well and kind of grown up. And it was, was he was totally the. The one that made it sexy. And so the the musical performance piece of it came in through the entertainment department, and the division would negotiate these record contracts throughout the year and then drop exclusive. Either the albums that they were recording with their labels would include an additional tracks for Target or.
Jamie: Cover art or Target was always working with these labels to do something special for their guests. And so part of that contract, that Target would commit to so many units of those albums would be that the artist would then come play at our national sales meeting every August or September to get our teams excited about selling those for holidays. So my first meeting was Justin Timberlake, Christina Aguilera, Bon Jovi. Like, I was like, Oh my gosh, I have arrived. Like, I was like, Oh, there's nothing better. But yeah, I mean, it became like Colin Powell came to speak one time and Michael Bublé and David Foster and Tony Bennett were performing for a holiday. You know, they they came in and were kicking off because I think not only were carrying the album over, but then we were also doing a holiday special on air. And so they were a target was sponsoring a broadcast type thing for holidays with Michael Bublé and Tony Bennett. And so it was cool. I mean, it was I got to work on meetings with like pretty much everybody. I had said that the one time we we were supposed to have Prince, we had released some an album for him after he had left his record label. We had released an independent album with him and I said, I'm going to have to retire after this because being in Minneapolis and being a huge Prince fan, there was no one bigger. And then he had kind of found a loophole that let him get out of performing for that meeting. But I think it was good because I don't know that Prince would have come out and enjoyed performing for 10,000 people in red and khaki. But it was it was not a the marketing team and the music team were not big fans of it, but I kind of was like, That's okay. I kind of don't want to see him perform at 3:00 in the afternoon in front of all these corporate executives. But I did think that I was going to have to retire if he did, because I was like, there's going to be no one more special or more meaningful to me personally to execute a meeting for.
Jamie: So but then after I did leave and the next year, I purposely booked a massage and a facial to take out my afternoon when I knew the meeting was going on because I didn't want to be getting the text from my old team. And so I silenced my phone and I came back out of the appointment and I had hundreds of messages because Oprah had surprised them with a visit that year. And I was like, Oh, I should have stayed for Oprah.
Michelle: Oh, my God. I have to ask you right now, because I didn't want to interrupt you, but you have to go to the meetings in your red and khaki.
Jamie: Yeah, the team members did. I did not. We were event staff, so we had to be in all black in case they could see us behind the stage curtains or something. So our our costumes, not costumes, but our event attire changed. We went from black T-shirts with Target Bull's Eyes to then we started wearing black suits on site just to look a little more professional when we were meeting the talent and stuff. But yeah, the team members all all wore red and khaki, even the presenters like everybody, so that downtown Minneapolis became just a sea of red and khaki for like five days straight. And it would make the news, the local news station that targets meetings in town and they take video footage outside of the target team members all walking to the the meeting location.
Michelle: And yeah, I guess if you're talking about that many people I can only get to when the the cheese heads play the Rose Bowl.
Michelle: Who the team is because I don't watch football.
Jamie: Wisconsin I think. Right.
Michelle: Yeah, it is sweet because they're also red I think. Red like a sea of red and those cheese wedges.
Michelle: Rolling through.
Michelle: And it's everywhere from Santa monica to like anywhere there's a tourist area. You will see a sea of cheeseheads don't.
Jamie: So exactly. It's exactly the same. It's like, how can I stand out in my red and khaki? Like, can I wear a khaki skirt? Can I wear a red hat? Like, how can I make myself look different than everybody else's attire of the same day?
Michelle: I can't do uniforms. I couldn't do it. I think that's that's where I would lose the least lose the job is I cannot uniform tell me.
Jamie: Because that was the only time we had to wear red and khaki. We could always wear red and khaki if we wanted to. But that was the only time that it was actually was those four or five days that it was mandated that the team members all had to wear red and khaki, otherwise they could wear. We went from business casual to professional back to business casual like we had done the whole gamut by the time I was there. But the red and khaki was only required for that week that all the outdoor teams were in town.
Michelle: Now tell me why you left your dream job and bring us up to speed with where you are right now.
Jamie: Yeah, so I think I told you this story before. I'll try to keep it a little briefer. But so it was the first time in my career that I had had a team member call in sick. She was pregnant and. Um, because otherwise the team worked really hard and we were there through, through illness, migraines, whatever it took. But she was really sick. And so I at the last minute stepped in and covered her leadership meeting that that day for 400 of the headquarters leadership team. And Casey at that point was running. I think he was running target.com or entertainment. I can't remember which, but he had a part of the meeting that he had to speak at. And so we were kind of arm wrestling in the back of the room because one of us needed to leave and take our oldest son to register for kindergarten. And we only had to do it during school hours. So it was like between two and three. And Casey was due to speak and I was supposed to be at this meeting getting the cocktail party and everything else ready to go. So the afternoon snack had to be managed and gift bags and whatever. You know, we were always busy back there, so we pretty much were standing loud bickering or whisper bickering in the back of the of the room about who was going to be able to leave. So I ended up leaving seating. I don't know if I even told my boss who was attending the meeting as an attendee that I had to leave. So that night we came home and we kind of made the decision that one of us was going to have to stay home to start managing the boys. Because before that we have two boys and both of them were downtown at a daycare right next door. So we had been able to manage our careers and our travel schedule with our daycare being so close. But our our school was about 20 minutes away from downtown. So I came I came in the next day and or maybe it was a few weeks later, but let them know that I was going to have to stay home with with the boys.
Jamie: And I was happy to do it. I felt like I got really lucky that I had had five or six more years after I had had my oldest, that I got to work and got to do all of the fun things I did. But I think also I just couldn't have maintained the travel schedule and wanting to be more present with them as they were getting older. So I was happy to make the choice, but it was it was a hard job to to leave. But I did feel like I got to do all the crazy, cool things that I had wanted to do. So it was it was hard to walk away from the job, but an easy decision to stay home.
Michelle: At what point did you. So actually let me back up. You have a brand, this amazing store. What point did you guys decide to start developing this and what was the process? Did you guys just start kind of throwing ideas around because your husband was still at Target, correct?
Jamie: Yeah. Yeah. And I left. I mean, even my boss at the time, I had worked for her for almost ten years, ten years. Her and I had been peers and then she had become my boss at that on that event Internal Events team. As soon as I told her that I was going to stay home with the boys, she said, Are you going to open a store? Because I think that was something I had wanted to do. Even when I left college, I knew that I wanted to own a store. But then, you know, you get kind of sucked into Target and all the cool things and it didn't really, really it had always been in the back of my mind, but it hadn't really been something that I had the money or the the energy to do when I was developing my career and then having babies. But when I told her I was going to need to leave, she said, Are you going to are you going to open a store? And I said, Yeah, maybe someday. Not right now, but that's how much I think it kind of was in me. So I was home with the boys for several years and then just kind of said, you know, I could only rearrange my Christmas decorations and every and plan their birthday parties. I kind of went over the top with most of their birthday parties. I think I was like, okay, I probably need to start doing something before. So I don't really remember how certain Jane came to be about. But we say the story of surgeon Jane is kind of her fashion and his music, and that's that is kind of who Casey and I are. If if he hadn't been upstairs on phone calls, you'd see our offices. One whole wall is vinyl albums. And people always think it's a fake background like that. It's wallpaper because he's got wall to wall bookshelves of vinyl albums up there. But that is I mean, the store kind of evolved out of our true passions and our things that we love. And I think I told you before, like, it didn't really ever hit me maybe until I was preparing for this podcast.
Jamie: But every time Casey and I travel, any time we go somewhere like we shop and we talk about retail and we talk about how stores look and. How they feel. And that's just something we've done since we started dating. And we don't I don't know that we ever realized that it was it was probably isn't how people vacation. I had somebody asked me last year during COVID like well what do you like to do if we do a girls RV trip? What do you what do you like to do? And I'm like, well, I like to shop and eat like, isn't that what most people like to do? And she's like, Oh, we like to hike. And and I was like, Oh, that's not what I do on vacation. But we have always we've just had a shorthand about retail, and I think it was only a matter of time before the storm surge.
Michelle: And Jane, ah.
Jamie: What do you say for.
Jamie: People that don't know who Serge and Jane are?
Jamie: Yeah, so it's the name of the store, but they're also kind of our muses, Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin. And he was a French musician. He was pretty well established French musician. And she was she's probably most notably known for being there Muse for the Hermes Birkin bag. But at the time she was a model and actress and aspiring singer, and they recorded an album together and she was erotically moaning on one of the singles that they put out, and it ended up being banned by the UK and a lot of Europe. And then it went to number one on the Billboard music chart. So it was the first originally banned song like, you know, because then two live crew and all those came out in the nineties, but Jane had actually banned songs, so we felt like that was a great homage to the fashion and the music and the fact that they had had a band record was just even cooler. So it's very much they're they're they're their spirit is very much in the store. It's a little bit rock and roll and a little bit moody. And it's very industrial and urban feeling. Even though we're kind of in a more suburban type area, we built a brick building to make it feel a little more urban and a little more gritty, I guess, but hopefully sophisticated. It's new, but we kind of wanted it to feel like a warehouse. So you've got the exposed beams and the cement floors and but we say it's there, it's full of fashion and music, but also like art and community, like we have a rooftop that we built so that we can have events up there. I can't get very far from my events past, but we felt like just retail needed a place to bring people together. And that's how that's how retailers need to be a little bit more than just a place to buy things at this point. So we try to make it a place that the community wants to be. We have live art shows in our stairwell, so every four months we put two local artists are up in the stairwell so that people can come in and see it. We try to have an event one or two times a month, but just to really get people out and connecting with their neighbors. It's a we're in a very small community right on the edge of Minneapolis. And so the more we can get people to to feel like it's theirs and feel like they have something to do there besides just buying things, we think it draws them, draws them in and wants them to to leave their money in the neighborhood.
Michelle: And so we what I love is that and it is is extremely, extremely rare that you guys built this from the ground up.
Michelle: I mean, I've worked for one guy who's done that and he was doing a development project with the city of Lancaster. So he super creative would like draw something out on a napkin and hand it to an architect who he's worked with forever that knew his aesthetic. And then one of the buildings sounds kind of like yours that I had it up was a three storey cement. It had a glass a glass elevator. So it's super industrial. See, all of the all the mechanics of it and exposed beams. I mean, it sounds so close to what you're doing, but I can't imagine bootstrapping that on your own. But what an amazing experience to design it because did you guys how did you guys go through the I mean, this is what I didn't ask you. How did you guys go through the design process? You obviously you work with an architect and whatnot, but did you guys have a bunch of terrorists or did you guys how how does that look?
Jamie: Yeah, so we I think we knew exactly what we were going to do without even really ever having talked about it. Like, I think because we do walk retail so often, I think we kind of knew what our store would look like eventually, like without even saying, okay, it's going to be industrial, it's going to be modern, like, but how we actually did it is we worked with a builder that is actually a residential builder because we wanted it. We didn't want it to feel like traditional commercial space, especially because it's a lifestyle store. So we wanted it to have a little bit more of a a warm, homey vibe, you know. So we didn't use commercial grade carpet or we didn't use we didn't use the same tile selection that any commercial buildings use buildings using. We have a kitchen, a kitchen area that we sell bitters. And so we wanted it to feel kind of more like a bar, but also that's where the staff heats up their lunch, you know. So it's it's very multipurpose in a lot of areas. But we purposely worked with a residential builder. We knew that it was going to be brick from the outside, even though once we saw how much that was going to cost, we were like, Oh, maybe we should go into three walls or three of the exterior walls not being brick. So we definitely had some because we had only ever done remodels on our house. We definitely had some. If we had any commercial experience, we would have maybe done this differently. But it feels very much like our house actually, which is kind of funny, like the colors are very much the same. Our office space, like I said, it holds records. So there's a whole record wall. There's two record walls actually in the store, but the it's very much the same colors and look and feel as our house. And we did we had a Pinterest board which we have Pinterest boards for everything but our board. What you say?
Michelle: I swear by a Pinterest board. Yeah. Yeah. For people that don't use them, they are hands down the best tool ever.
Jamie: Yeah, totally. And our architect, they were on, you know, we had a couple of different versions of Pinterest boards, like if it was exterior or interior, but the architects only delivered it to I think they called it I can't remember what they called it something blank space or they put everything that they did was getting it to just a white interior shell. And then Casey and I selected everything. Everything else. So we have a glass wall with a glass door in it that separates the first floor from the stairwell. And so all of those were really they worked with us to obviously draw them in there. But we really, really it was kind of what we wanted and what we envisioned for the space, but.
Michelle: So take me through the walk me through the store from the entrance to the rooftop.
Jamie: Okay. So it is three stories inside and then it has a full rooftop. So our city had just approved the rooftop ordinance ordinance months maybe before we started building. So we kind of that was kind of lucky because prior to that, if we had built the building much sooner, we wouldn't have gotten to do that. And there's also a height restriction. So luckily the rooftop didn't count. We're not we're not near the height allowance. But if we had tried to do another floor, we would have we would have run into some issues. So you walk in the front door and it's all that's our that's our biggest our highest floor. I think it's about 14 foot ceilings and it's all women's apparel and accessories. And there's a giant black and white photo of Serge and Jane when you walk in and then you go through the glass doors on your right hand side, there's the elevator. I wish I had thought about a glass elevator, but our elevator is all enclosed, close. And then you go upstairs to men's. It's men's fashion and accessories, as well as it's there's a big cocktail area. So we do everything but the booze, everything but the spirits. We do bitters and glassware and all the gadgets. And also on that floor is at the other end. The opposite end of the cocktails is all the vinyl. The vinyl. So there's new and used vinyl bins that you can flip through for any real like vinyl collectors. It's that same experience of flipping through the bins that you have at a at a old, dusty record shop. Just not dusty, hopefully. And there's a little bit of home and gift up there. We do part of our brand DNA is doing a little bit or quite a bit actually, hopefully with local makers. So there's meatball mixes and Bloody Mary. Mary and we really try to support those local makers in the neighborhood too, so that we did carve out some space for making it feel a little more home up there. We don't we don't do much as far as like furniture, but we do blankets and kind of more home accessories up there.
Jamie: We've got a few pillows, kitchen towels, things like that. And then from the first floor down, you go in and there is a cute lower level with its all bright colors and but it ties back to the the first two floors. You know, there's big lightning bolts on the walls and a big turntable rug and really bright primary colors. But it's kids and a pet bakery. So half of it is kids apparel and accessories and toys. And then the other half is a big bakery case and with seasonal dog cookies and birthday cakes. And then we sell pet gear too. So like leashes and bowls and pillows. And it's mostly focused on dogs, which I get a little bit of flack for, but there are cat bowls and cat wands and it's kind of dog and cat right now. So I try to have something for everybody. We carry a lot of the same apparel brands from Newborn up to men's double X, so hopefully it's the same look and feel for everybody in the family. Like if you're doing a Christmas card photo or something, like you can buy the the joggers and the knit sweaters downstairs for the kiddos that you can buy up in men's or women's women's.
Michelle: I think that's brilliant. That I mean, I think that for me, what I can imagine is how cohesive the store is, how it seamlessly and again as a lifestyle brand. It's a lifestyle for the whole family where it's mostly goes from men's to women's to baby. And you all have that same because you had said you were very California vibe.
Michelle: In the Midwest, but that that same vibe, that same whole lifestyle feeling has got to read. So incredibly cohesive.
Jamie: Yeah, I hope. I don't know. I hope people get it just instinctually. But I'm sure no one's paying attention that there are there's lightning bolt wallpaper and men's that then they're seeing the big lightning bolts downstairs. I'm sure no one is paying attention to me. But but hopefully it just feels like I mean, it does feel like it it is telling the same story. And you're right, it is very much a West Coast vibe. So it's our style is very casual, very laid back again. The rock and roll music theme goes throughout. So we have the jellied cat, you know, like guitars and record players and downing kids, kids. So hopefully it all feels like it's connected. And, and hopefully we're getting these Minnesotans a little more West Coast in their some feel to. What'd you say?
Michelle: Tell me some of the brands you carry.
Jamie: Yeah. So Soul Angelus is our biggest brand. I would say they represent a huge piece of the kids business for us. And then also men's and women's, to be honest with you. It was a brand that Casey and I loved and wore. And it's just kind of who we are. It's casual, but it's also it's got great, cool factor. I think the first collection we brought in from them had a bunch of song lyrics on the men's t shirts, you know, like. And we were like, Yep, yep. You know, we've got one in right now that says, Sorry, Miss Jackson, you. So I think there's been song lyrics on a lot of. One one of the seasons that we brought in. So Soul Angeles is a big one. And then they we diversify on some of them. So Scotch and soda is a big one across men's and women's. Belstaff Leather jackets we carry across men's and women's free people. We support free people in a big way on the women's floor, which again is those chunky knits for the Minnesotans. But also we carry some of their crop tops and things like that for a younger set, like the 12 or 14 that aren't aren't wearing complete women's sizes yet, but want the look and feel of what the high school girls are wearing. And I'm trying to think austerity is the one that we carry in women's we're trying to carry in men's. And then Hayden, Los Angeles is one that we carry in women's and kids. So it's got a very bohemian. It's got a lot of the dresses and stuff that you could wear. You could kind of look like your your mini me. If you're if you're looking for some dresses and some skirts and stuff that match the mom and daughter look, so so do I.
Michelle: Just had a question. Now, of course, it's just completely left my head.
Jamie: Oh, sorry. I just keep thinking this is.
Michelle: But welcome to being 50 something like mid-sentence. Like, what was I going to ask for? For women's. And I really. So you do you also do accessories and jewelry and candles and like. So are you cross merchandising. Everything is lifestyle. I love that.
Jamie: Yeah. So we've probably we're probably over I can't stop buying candle lines, but yeah, we carry like a Porsche from Ron Robinson and that was when we got that. And I was like, this is every, you know, the Fred Segal, the Ron Robinson, like, you know, stores that I've loved. When Apotheke came in, I was like, This is it. I've arrived. But we carry trap candles, which just make this sauce smell because we've had we have one of those lit most days. But their their whole philosophy is it's fragrance for your room, you know? So it's very much like hopefully it's all senses go, you walk in. But yeah, we have several candle lines. We have several jewelry, not several jewelry lines. We have a big jewelry assortment, but from two local makers and then a couple other lines. But Chris Nations is one of our big accessories jewelry lines, because I was I was buying their stuff when I was in LA and I would buy like three or four earring sets and then I'd want to give all of the people that I bought them for. So that's how I found them, because I had been buying their stuff for years. But yeah, it's, it's the jewelry is mixed right in. The scarves and hats right now are mixed right in with the the women's cocktail dresses and the candles. And we've got books about fashion. We just sold our last Tom Ford book. I mean, I try to reorder those before holiday, but we've got the big coffee table books mixed in with the hats and scarves. Right as you walk in right now, I just reset a black and white Christmas tree with all of our stocking stuffers. And so we've got the CBD bath balls and. Chat are not chopsticks but the CBD lip balms and face mask socks and things like that. So yeah, it is definitely it's and we do a lot of gifting like it's a lot of. Insulated Drinkware and you know, like, which is kind of an interesting category to throw right there in women's, but they're glitter blush colored wine, you know, wine cups to go, go. So it's more about the design and the brand and how how functional the brands are that we're really looking for.
Jamie: Those are roommates that we carry in the insulated drinkware, but they keep your drinks cold for 24 hours. And I was like, and they don't leave a metal aftertaste, which I had always struggled with with some of the other brands. So it was something that I had used and tried and I was like, I love this. And then when we went through COVID and everything was shut down, people were drinking in their driveways, so the insulated drinkware went through the roof. That's what we were doing. All of the online and curbside pick ups for it was a bunch of drinkware that they could they could take outdoors with the drinkware lives right next to the candles. And they're all they're all merchandised out on the fireplaces and I love it.
Michelle: Do you wait? You have fireplaces in there?
Jamie: We have one fireplace. Yeah, right on the floor. So I forgot that. Is it? It's a gas fireplace.
Michelle: Oh, my God. That's amazing.
Jamie: I heated floors in, but Casey was like, we're absolutely not putting heated floors in the changing rooms. And I was like, Well, when people come in and start trying on resort, it's January. Like in cases like then just crank up the fireplace. He's like, We're not putting heated floors in these changing rooms.
Michelle: You guys have a fireplace.I mean, I had mentioned you will be next year, we're going to release the retail for road trips and your store is going to be the first one that we go to. And how how that's going to work, I don't know. But it is going where your store is going to be the first because just talking to you about both, like how cohesive it is and just like how amazing that store sounds and the fact that you guys built it yourselves, like in every little bit of it, from the glass doors to the fireplace. Now you're telling me and you know, the record, I mean, all of it is so sounds like such visual candy. And it's always when I set out doing this podcast, the intention was was going to be a YouTube where you take us through and we do a video of you walking to the store. And now I'm like, You know what? I want to go to the store and sit down and have the interview in person, but also go to the store and film it and walk and talk and see what like walking us through the store because it's it's total visual eye candy and it kills me now when I hear stores like stores like yours not to be able to see it, it's like, oh my God. So I will tell you, you're talking to the first time totally made me like, okay, this is like that was kind of the push that it's going to happen for sure because it's.
Jamie: Oh, good, I can't wait to have you guys. I hope it I hope it lives up to the expectations. But because I feel like I could talk about it honestly for days, but it.
Michelle: Honestly, it's just because the fact of like how the retail lineage that you guys came up through and just the fact that like not just because it's California, I'm in California, but the fact that you coming here and talking stores and the stores that you love and, you know, tell us some of your favorite stores on the West Coast.
Jamie: Yeah. So well, like I said, Ron Robinson was one of my favorites. They from the time that they were in Fred Segal, I mean, we got to be really good friends with the store manager out there. I can't remember his name now, but he would message us and be like, Hey, you guys, I got a new watch and you want to send us pictures in case you'd be like, Yeah, all right, I want to get that for Jamie for Christmas. Like, but we and then again, when they went to their when he went to their flagship store right there in Santa monica, again, we got to know the staff. They'd be like, oh, you're back. What are you guys in town for this? You know, like, I'm like that's that's the kind of experience I want in retail that like people, even though they don't see me for every three or four months like that, they recognize us and they're like, Oh yeah, you bought that hat last time.
Michelle: And that is hands down what I say all the time of what? That's the retail school I grew up in. You know, I to go but that kind of customer service. Yeah hands down is what makes that store and it's, it's everything that you literally just explained is knowing somebody's name and calling them or emailing like that. That is the epitome of customer service to me. So I'm so happy to hear you say that because I'm like, I know I'm not the only one that experiences this.
Jamie: Yeah, for sure. So that, I mean, I'm really heartbroken that I don't have either of those places to visit because I feel like that's what really drew me. You know, I probably went to California the first time when I was in licensing and that's when I walked through Fred Segal for the first time, you know, so I was probably 25, 26 and I. It was like, of course, I couldn't afford a $300 sweater. And I was like, Who's paying? Who's buying this stuff? You know, like at the time. But it left such an impression on me with those stores within a store and I don't know. So those two I still think about and kind of just wish they were still around. But beyond that, I used to love to walk up and down. Albert Kenny It's getting a little it's getting a little more like our own America with some of the same brands that we can get here. So I kind of miss a little bit of the Venice Abbott Kenny vibe when it used to be like the local store know like the little there's still some of them, but when they weren't like the Apple store or the Lululemon store or whatever is there now. But let's see, I, I kind of I'm starting to venture beyond the Venice and Santa Monica area. So every time I'm there, I'm going, Oh, and I would say that I've done a lot around the Kitson area to I still love to visit Kitson even though that's a little more snarky kind of than our than our vibe. I do always enjoy kids a quick walk through Kitson and I don't know some of those stores that have been around probably that I saw really made the biggest impact on me and I still go, but I'm trying to visit other areas that I haven't been to in the past when I get out there now.
Jamie: When we talked last time, you I think it was like it was right before I started Bristol Farm, so it was in October. So you had not decided on what your Christmas was going to look like and now now you have to be set up. So now I want to hear what your.
Both: Christmas looks like. It's so funny. I don't even know if I had Halloween when we talked and I was like, Oh my gosh. She asked about my Christmas. I'm not even sure what I'm doing for Halloween. And I came home and I told Casey that, and I was like, Wow, maybe I really do need to get on this little cooler. Like, I kind of thought I had plenty of time. I said, But talking to Michelle today, I feel like I'm a little like so I don't know. I don't know how it just comes to me. But we ended up doing a winter solstice theme this year. I had had a fall fashion event. I think I had just done my fall fashion event. The last time we talked where we had activations on every floor and we had an impromptu fashion show on the rooftop and we had about 50 people. I think we cap tickets at 50 people that night just because we were still we were starting to surge a little bit of a COVID outbreak right then, but we wanted to still do it. And so I think I had kind of I think you were kind of surprised that I had done like individual charcuterie boxes and. Yeah, so so some of that we had already done that night, we, I had built a big dried flower arrangement above our jewelry table and I was kind of running with the dried flower theme for that event because I didn't want to start pulling out the pumpkins and all that in September. So with some of those pieces already built, I wasn't quite ready to take them down yet. I left them up through Halloween and then I kind of transformed them for a holiday. And then I covered some of our mannequins in the window, window and evergreen skirts and tried to pull like the living green and dried flower theme throughout the store. So we have like a an all pink dried flower arrangement on a green wall, like a faux boxwood wall downstairs and kids. And we did a big banner that says Merry and Bright. So that's all like really bright pinks and reds and greens down and kids and the dried flowers.
Jamie: Then we've got the evergreens and the kind of the neutral caramels and a little bit of green on the first floor and then men's. We've got some green moose up there. And Men's got just kind of the the trees with the whiskey bottle ornaments and stuff on it. So I would say everyone's kind of got a little bit of a nature theme, but we went with kind of a winter solstice playing up the Minnesota like the longest day of the year. And when things turn from dark to light, as is the changing of the winter solstice. So we didn't do so much a holiday or Christmas or anything like that this year. We just went with kind of a. The the living greens and the the dried flowers.
Michelle: So I love it because last year you guys did the project with the young.
Jamie: Yeah it.
Michelle: Was in the neighborhood tell everyone because I just like one I love that you paired up with him and it's like it truly is like a kid and you guys created together.
Jamie: Well. And that's probably why I was probably feeling a little bit of second year pressure to live up to that. People had commented on our Instagram about, I can't wait to see what you guys do there. And I was like, Okay, well, that was I'll never top that. Like, no matter how long, I'm probably until I hire someone that's a professional window dresser. So last year we were we were closed from March until May, almost ten weeks. And when we reopened, it was almost summer in Minnesota. Kids were getting out of school and we had a young guy come in with his mom. They were just walking. They live in the neighborhood. I think they were just walking and killing some time. And I don't even know if they had ever been in before. They'd maybe been in once. But we started talking about what his plans were for the summer, and he said that he loves model trains and that he was maybe thinking of setting his Christmas village up early just because he didn't have a lot going on in the summer. And he wanted to get his Christmas train or his Christmas village's out and run his train tracks through it. So we started talking about it and I was like, Hey, you know, I had this idea, but I don't know how to do it. I've always wanted to create the Home Alone holiday, the Christmas party scene from Home Alone, where Michael Jordan is on the train track, the Michael Jordan cut out. And I said, Do you think you could ever help me build something like that? And he said, Yeah, probably. And I said, Do you really think you could? And he said, Yeah, I think so. And I said, okay, if you want to give me an idea of how much you think it would cost and what size train we need, I will start looking for the Michael Jordan cutout and all of the other elements of the party. And I think I told you this last time, but then of course, this is how luck goes for me. But then the Michael Jordan documentary came out and made it very hard to find a michael Jordan cutout from the eighties.
Jamie: I don't even know when that thing was made, but and then it became very expensive on top of that. And I was losing Michael Jordan cut out after Michael Jordan cut out on eBay. And somehow I ended up getting one. And he came and picked it up and he and his dad engineered a train car that could pull that cut out. And we had the train track and Michael Jordan going across four of the windows, the two front windows and then two side windows of our for our holiday. And then we had like the movie posters and the mannequin on the record player spinning around and we had the silhouettes playing cards and we had paint cans dangling from the ceiling. So we had the the map that Kevin McAllister makes like in his, like in his son's. Like, we had that on all the windows and we had the spider, the the older brother's spider that had escaped from his terrarium. Like, so, yeah, we we kind of did a huge splash with I think he was an eighth grader at the time. He was in seventh or eighth grade, but we had a big unveiling and the newspapers were there and people came for all month. And like one photo, we even had some people dress up as like the bandits and come take holiday photos in front of it. And it was hard because people wanted us to leave it on after the store closed, but we're like, we can't have the train track running all night. So they did have to come see it during the day because we couldn't leave it all up and leave it all running all night. But yeah, it was a huge attention getter and it was super fun to partner with him on that. So I bought the train and said that if he would help me do it, I would give him all the parts afterwards. And I said The only piece is that I get to keep the Michael Jordan cut out after this. It was a great partnership and he's a super cool kid. And if I could think of a way to have him help me with everything I would. So I love.
Michelle: I think that's brilliant. Like it really.
Jamie: Did make it for a very I was like, okay, we're going to have to do something entirely different this year just to not we can't do another movie and we can't do another like interactive something because then people will expect this every year. And I don't have the skills that that Auggie has.
Michelle: So I know you got to get to the store, because I'm going to ask you last couple couple questions.
Michelle: With Jan coming up and all the shows. And since it seems like seems like life is kind of returning to normal, what are some of the shows that you're going to be attending?
Jamie: I don't even know yet. I just sent Casey a text about that this morning saying I have to decide because we haven't been to a show in. Two years. I guess at this point I've done everything off a line sheets and and a little bit off of Zoom, but it's actually easier. I need more time than Zoom typically or I'm trying to while there while there are people in the store. So I'm doing most everything off of line sheets. So I don't know. I haven't even really I don't know. I don't know what I'm ready for and I don't know where I want to go yet. So I know I need to be booking a flight here one or two places, probably next in Vegas.
Jamie: Come to Vegas.
Both: I've never been to Vegas. Oh, girl. I mean, I've been I've been to Vegas for magic map. But it's actually you know.
Michelle: It's it's I mean, for us here on the West Coast, because LA is so small now, it's really fine line sales producers. Katie It's just. Karen Alwell, there's really not that much left in LA but Vegas because it's so big and it's close and ICM owns it. Who owns Atlanta and who owns High Point? It's it's good. I mean, it's like there's full floors of showrooms. Temps is a brand new temp space. So there's temps coming in now again, because, you know, I haven't really stopped traveling like in even the showrooms I work for were still doing setups because there's still people coming by appointments. So the first Vegas where they we had post COVID there was like, you know, ten, ten, 20, 30 temps. Now it's like there's like temps and there's cash and carry people. I mean, it feels like that energy's back. I mean it. And it's they also have furniture and they also have like home accessories and whatnot. But the gifts is pretty strong. I mean, it's.
Jamie: A great show. I've heard so much that you can't get through it. That's probably actually why I'm a little intimidated by it, because I'm like you.
Michelle: You can I mean, it's because it's kind of like, you know, you're going to weed out all the things that are not. But there there are some really for us for me here on the West Coast, there's a lot of the Atlanta presence that are that are there, like where I wouldn't be able to see it. So it's nice.
Jamie: To have it.
Michelle: Kind of close by, but it's a really it is a really good show and cost wise, I mean, it's like compared to Atlanta to doing Atlanta or to New York, I mean, it's like a fraction of the cost for, you know.
Jamie: Are you go even like during the market week. Are you there?
Michelle: Yeah, I'm I'm going to be this is going to be a tough one for me because I will literally almost be living in Vegas. So art training, who's one of my accounts who I opened their Atlanta showroom and their L.A. showroom, finally getting a showroom in Vegas. So I'm here with them from the 10th to the 15th. And then I transitioned over to sales producers till the 22nd, and then I changed hats and I turn into a buyer starting today. So I'll I'll.
Michelle: Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, most likely, which is, you know, and I go the first day just to walk and don't write any orders just to walk and see what there is because you know, you start to see a pattern and I concept everything. So, you know, the first day, but I'll be this if you go I would love to hang out with you guys.
Jamie: Yeah. Same. I was going to say I will go just to see you if you're going to be there. But I didn't know how much of it you actually stayed for once it opened, but.
Michelle: I'll be there. I have an Airbnb that's almost a month long. It's because, you know, because we're staying for so long. And Dave will be my husband will be with me, part of it because he's my contractor. But after the last time, when I stayed for like I must have been ten days and staying in like a hotel room. Oh, my God. Like there's a point where it's like, I can't eat hotel food anymore. They don't machines in the rooms anymore. So it's like you have to. And they weren't doing room service. So if you wanted coffee, you literally had to get dressed and go walk almost a mile through the casino, just.
Michelle: Never doing this again. So we're doing I'm driving an Airbnb, so that way at least will feel kind of like, quote unquote, home.
Jamie: Yeah, smart. That's the way to do it.
Jamie: So it's funny, when you posted the other day that you had done all of your accounts, I think in 45 days or it had been 45 days and you're finished. I was like, oh, my gosh, Michelle has done all of her clients in 45 days and I have done one store.
Michelle: It's it was such a whirlwind. I mean, I you know, and I do that. It's it's I mean, thank God I was done because you'll if you listen to this week's podcast, like my dog had an emergency situation on Thanksgiving Day where we spent the day with her in the E.R. and her back legs just stopped working. And we have no idea what happened or how it we have no idea. So we know nothing's broken, but we also know we don't know if it's neurological, if it's. So I'm really grateful that I got all that done. And I'm really grateful that we had seven days because we're supposed to leave for Atlanta on Wednesday. And I'm like having the hardest time trying to decide like, we have to go because that job is basically going to pay for her hospitalization.
Both: But it's also.
Michelle: A situation I've never been in, so I'm super glad that because usually we're doing setups all the way up to Thanksgiving Day and I'm like, I think that we were done and my head is sort of in the right place, but it's I'm glad it's done because I start setups starting on the first. Like I literally transitioned like by retail right into wholesale showrooms.
Jamie: Right? Right. But it was a.
Michelle: Damn whirlwind, let me tell.
Jamie: You, without spoiling it. Is she okay? Is everything okay?
Michelle: Right now she's resting. I here. She has to be on bed rest for, like, 30 days, which if you have a small dog, especially a small one, like a pug, all that likes to be in the window up in everybody's business.
Michelle: 30 days, a long time. But she's so because nothing's working on her, she doesn't really have much of a choice. But, you know, touch wood. Yesterday was a great day. Like, because the thing is, like, if she gets worse than it's neurological and then it's whole, but she's not getting worse, thank God. Like she's standing a little bit longer. She kind of walks like a drunk sailor, like she'll walk and her legs will just kind of, like, collapse on each other and she'll just sit down all sudden and. But her tail's wagging. And today eyes are kind of bright. And so we, we. I feel like I hate saying this, but I feel like finally I feel like I have a little bit of hope because these are our kids. And to see and the small one, the other one mouse is like, doesn't understand at all what's happening. She's still trying to play with her sister and it's like so so I had to take her to camp today just to run some energy off on her because she's used they're used to running and chasing. So cross your fingers and say hello. So it's definitely something more than I, I the fact that it's happening right before we leave for Atlanta is just the part where I'm like, Damn, but right. So I have today and tomorrow to see how far she comes. And then we have a really good friend that's going to come stay with her and so she'll be in good hands. It's just.
Michelle: Her future looks like. She may be in a wheelchair, and if so, then she's in a little wheelchair. I'm Dave built camp the first day, so we have a ramp.
Jamie: Ramp. If you look at my status.
Michelle: You look at my stories, you'll see.
Both: It's like.
Michelle: Very glamorous, astroturf covered ramp now out of my.
Michelle: Kitchen door.
Michelle: Whatever you got. So my last question for you is, where do you see yourselves in ten years?
Jamie: Oh, yeah. I think I answered this really poorly last time, but I think I have the same answer. I, you know, this this Casey obviously is like, you know, to make money, you have to be a several store chain and you have to that's really how you make money at retail. And I know that. I know that. I'm like, I don't think I want another store. I think I mean, three floors keeps me busy enough between, you know, staffing and inventory and clients. Like it's like having three stores, I think some days, but I don't really think I want to do anything more than just make this a success, a successful like legacy, where people have fun and they know what to expect and they kind of like how I still feel about my favorites out there in LA. Like I hope that we're doing a little bit of that here in Minneapolis for for our community and our clients. I hope that they come to know that, like when they walk into certain, Jane, it's going to be cool and fun and different and that we're around for that long, like, so I don't really want anything bigger or more. I just want to make this one successful. And I think part of it too is it fulfills a creative need for me being able to do the displays and the I think if it was just an inventory piece of it and the sales piece of it, then I could if that's what was really driving me, I think I could open other locations. And of course my second my second place would be your. But I think because I also fulfill a creative like outlet with, with the windows and the props and stuff like that, I feel like it's kind of checking all the boxes for me. So as long as I can make this one profitable and kind of, you know, keep it rolling with what we've already started, I just feel like that's what I'd like to. Kind of a little more stable because we've only been open during COVID and already feels like our data from last year isn't really what we're seeing this year. And so I think we've got several more years of being a new retailer for us to to conquer. And hopefully maybe by ten years from now, we'll have like it'll feel a little more steady and a little more stable, but also just so just pretty reliable and and exciting but without the ups and downs of the of what's going on in other parts of what's affecting retail from the outside world. But yeah, no, I feel pretty good. I feel like this was this was the dream. And I got I've gotten there, but we're just the very start of it.
Michelle: Well, I am so excited to come out there and see.
Jamie: I know I can't wait to have you.
Michelle: Wait to come out there. And I really hope I meet you and you come out to Vegas because I would love to like hang out with you guys and like just sit and talk, maybe not even talk retail. I just like, I feel like I know you.
Jamie: So like I say, I would love to spend an evening or whatever you have time for with you, too. And one thing that we did not cover today that I probably thought about every single day since we talked, and I've actually even said this to some women that I work with on our social media. I said I was talking to Michelle and she described I said, I've never had a description for it before. I said, But I think you called it a tingle. Like when you walk into a physical space or a store and you get a tingle. I said, I have felt that and I have described that to Casey, but I don't I've never thought of the word tingle. Like, I'm like, I'm going to need some time here. Like something is like stirring in my stomach and I'm going to need some time to take this all in. And I have actually started using the tingle like I'm like, it's the way to describe it. And I think people that have have the retail like in their blood. I think that was a perfect description that you used and I thank you for putting words into it into how I feel.
Michelle: It's it's true. It's, you know, and there's very it's funny because I see everything and I've touched everything and I've like one of my stores or one of my showrooms has ultimately I've worked with it all. But so when you come across that whether it's a showroom at a show or a retailer, it's like I literally like I and I hate when it happens when I'm with my poor husband because it's like I want to just go and like look at everything and take everything in. And now what I'm finding is that I have my phone and I want to take pictures of it, but there's something that stops the creative thought when you stop and take a picture, as opposed to sitting there and taking it all in. And what what makes it so amazing is like, what's the architecture, what are the props, what are the products like? How many products do they have in it, like the balance and scale, like all of that. As soon as I start taking pictures, I start I realize, I start losing them. I've got to figure out how to either sit there with it for a bit and then take the pictures. But I know my husband be like, okay, got to go. Let's go.
Jamie: Up. Right? Yeah. And you're right because I feel like I feel like the photos never do it justice either. I'm like, what is it about this that makes me feel this way? And like, is it just the new product or is it the new is it the way it's merchandised or yeah, like what is it? And I think it is a lot of times the whole story, you know, and it's kind of that moment in time. But so I've been thinking about that. I'm like, Am I giving people the tingle when they walk in? Like.
Michelle: I'm like seeing it totally. I mean, I not seeing it. But just your explanation of between the architecture of the layout, how each floor is a different curated collection, I mean, all of that is I have goose bumps and I have seen it.
Jamie: But it means a lot. I appreciate that.
Michelle: I'm sure your store is giving people the tingle.
Jamie: I hope so. But I was like, Yeah, what store did I last get the tingle, you know, to like I'm like, and I told you this last time, too, but a lot of times I feel like it's been your the showrooms that you've done. And I'm like, you know, if it was Glitter Ville or whatever, it was like I'm like that. That is when it stops me in my tracks and makes me think, Oh, this is new and this is fresh and this is fun. And without knowing you, a lot of times it's your work. Your works are very inspiring to me.
Michelle: I love what I do. I got to say, I'm I'm excited to change hats now and go into the wholesale part because I feel like I've been buried in retail for so long, like the last 45 days. It's like, all right my toes into and it's fun we we leave on the first for Peking handicraft and art floral so we find it like get my hands in on do some new things.
Jamie: Yeah yeah.
Michelle: Sure. But thank you. But I'm going to let you go because I know you've got to go. Thank you so much for your time. I appreciate it.
Jamie: Thank you. Bye bye.
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 the life and retail. And don't.
Michelle: Forget to follow us on Instagram at the retail whore podcast and you can find us online at the retailwhorepodcast.com