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 and develop relationships with some of today’s biggest brands and wholesalers.
After working with a variety of different brands and wholesalers across an array of product categories, I saw a lot of similarities that lead to stunted growth. Some of these partners were the biggest brands around, yet were still struggling with developing new product and merchandising for their business.
With so many years under the thumb of big box retailers many wholesalers had lost their identity and weren’t sure what their brand meant or where it fit in the market, meaning major confusion about what to do next.
Big retailers were working with an increasingly smaller pool of vendors and they weren’t sure how to reignite the fire of those once profitable partnerships
As their heavy hitting big box accounts started to dwindle, and as new competitive startups were firing up they found themselves asking, “where do you turn to next to make up that sales volume?”
The market evolved so rapidly that they didn’t know which basket to put their eggs in — new products, new channels, social media channels, Amazon, Direct to consumer – all leading to more confusion, exhausted budgets, and business stagnation.
They lost track of their end consumer - what products they wanted, how to reach them, and what motivated them to buy. Who was actually buying their product? Where are they? and What do they want right now?
Even major household brands were making the same mistakes.
They were all missing the same things –
a Clear direction that keeps their brand and product line true to their authentic self and vision
a deep understanding of the customer, product niche, and how to reach them so they could stabilize and grow sales
A REAL PLAN for determining and clarifying priorities, so you know what what’s important (and what’s not) and where to spend your budget
Clear action points that define exactly what to do next, keeping everyone on track and moving the business forward
THE ACCOUNTABILITY FOR KEEPING renewed priorities 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.
Of course they were missing a strategy and a plan that would deliver their goals to take the business to the next level - but it always went deeper than that.
They were missing something more - an outside perspective. Someone who knew and understood the retail industry, market trends, and product development who could provide a fresh view on the business.
Someone who could see big picture of the industry direction, with the ability to drill down right to the brand, product lines, and current accounts - identifying how they fit into the market and where the opportunities were hiding.
Someone who could identify the lowest hanging fruit, opportunities, and whitespace to drive incremental sales and profitability for their business and brand.
Fast-forward to now, I created Mod. Merchant to help you grow your line with customized and meaningful recommendations to gain bottom line results.
Whether you want to get your brand back on track or scale your already established brand, 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 and out’s, and exactly what it takes to maximize your brand from the start.
I’ve worked with brands and wholesalers throughout my career and know what your challenges are because I saw it firsthand but I know what’s going on inside the head of buyers (because I was one!), and how to appeal to them.
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 tell you how to run your business – you’ve got that! I’m here to partner with you and offer fresh ideas and strategies so you can grow your brand.
“Wow, you get it!”
I can’t count the number of times a wholesale partner would say that to me over a market week dinner. After a glass of wine (or two), we would dig into what was REALLY going on in the business; why we went with one product proposal over another, why line direction had been changed (yet again), the inside scoop on why my costs weren’t coming back to reach my margin goals, why management seemed so willing to walk away from best sellers or core programs. We dug into what was really going on and I heard, “Wow, You Get It”, over and over again from my wholesale partners.
I understood exactly how our decisions were affecting our partners and vice versa and more importantly — I actually cared about it.
It’s one of the things that set me apart from other buyers, my peers, and at times my boss. It also that got me promoted time and time again in my career with increasing areas of responsibility that 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.