Hi! I’m Sarah Ferrence
I’m a retail merchandising coach and consultant for creative and ambitious designers and brands that are ready to launch or grow their apparel, accessories, jewelry or beauty line.
I spent 11+ years of learning the business of retail and fashion in corporate buying and product development roles at Kohl’s Department Stores, Harley-Davidson, and The Bon-Ton Department Store.
As I moved up and across the ladder, I had the opportunity to work with some pretty fantastic designers - many launching their own lines on the side.
I quickly discovered that while my friends were fantastic designers, they were struggling with the many other areas of creating and launching their own line -mainly merchandising and management of their startup business.
They weren’t sure what their brand meant or where it fit in the market and they felt confused about what to do next.
They didn’t know whom their customer was or how to reach them sO they assumed they had missed the mark.
They overlooked tried and true retail methods and tools making simple tasks overwhelmingly difficult.
They had no idea how to scale their manufacturing or channels and were struggling trying to figure it all out.
Even the most talented designers – were struggling & not making any progress.
I knew what was missing though because it was the same missing piece for each of them –
a clear direction for their brand that aligns their designs true to their authentic self and vision
a deep understanding of the customer and niche that would ensure their line reaches the right tribe and actually sells
a real plan with specific & clear action points that turns the vision of launching their own profitable line into a reality (rather than a pipe-dream)
a timeline for staying on track without worrying about when to start their next season
the accountability for keeping the to-do’s top of mind so they reach their goals
Basically, they were missing a partner - the Anna to their Vogue, the cranberry to their Cosmo, the red bottom to their Louboutins…
— someone who could help them fill in the gaps — to clarify, strategize their brand and business, and start scaling.
Fast-forward to now, I created Mod. Merchant to help you launch or grow the line you’ve always dreamed of.
Whether you went to design school, are self-taught, or a passionate creative who is ready to launch your own line, I hope you’ll think of me as your go-to partner for navigating the business of retail and fashion.
Why you should work with me
I know today’s retail and wholesale industries because I’ve worked in both of them, know the in’s & out’s, and exactly what it takes to maximize your brand from the start.
I’ve worked with designers and creatives throughout my career and know how to teach the business of fashion in a fun and simple way, so that it finally “just clicks” for you. No more stressing about how to figure out your gross margin!
You’ll get real and custom solutions. This isn’t one size fits all, we’ll figure out the best plan for you and your brand to keep you moving forward.
I’m not here to teach you design – you’ve got that! I’m here to teach you the business of retail and fashion and offer guidance and support so you can create a line that you love and that generates sales and profits!
I’ve been there!
I remember how lost I felt on my very first day as an Assistant Buyer (and later as an Assistant Product Manager) - learning all the terms, retail math, the abbreviations. It sounded like a foreign language to me and seemed so obvious to everyone else on my team. I struggled with grasping my many areas of responsibility – sales recaps, inventory plans, monthly budgets and open to buys, production schedules, marketing, markdowns – the list went on and on.
It was so much to manage and I felt confused and overwhelmed, not to mention my very first buyer definitely lived up to the “bitchy buyer” stereotype, so asking for help was absolutely out of the question. After many late nights at the office and the occasional freak out to my Assistant Buyer mentor, I finally started putting the pieces together and began to see the big picture of managing brands and multiple lines at once.
Over many years and lots of learning, I went from an assistant buyer to a product manager and my responsibilities grew and included:
Management of $100+ million dollar business strategizing multiple brands, product lines, and regional buys for 1100+ stores.
Developing global strategies, forecasts, product lines, and pricing strategies for men’s and women’s apparel, accessories, jewelry, and footwear.
Management of some of the biggest retail brands out there brands ranging from traditional to contemporary including Kohl’s megabrands Croft & Barrow, Sonoma and Apt 9 and launched new global brands, rebrands, and licensing partnerships like Harley-Davidson x Stance.
Partnering with hundreds of vendors and licensees developing strategies that leverage strengths and product offerings to create win/win business opportunities.
Studied the market and consumer by performing competitive market and sales analysis to identify new market opportunities that have delivered double digit increases in sales and profitability.
Strategizing, planning, licensing, buying, creating, and launching a lot of exciting merchandise that I’m sure you have bought.