Merch goes to Market: How We Choose Your Kid’s Clothes

Twice a year, the Mac & Mia merchandising team goes to what we call market, a trade show where brands from all over the world showcase their products for upcoming seasons. Our team—Allison Bruso, Jennifer Bennett, and Caroline Doyle—is at Children’s Club right now, meeting vendors, seeing new styles and designs, and choosing clothes for our fall 2018 collection. What’s that like? We’ll let them tell you.

What’s your top priority when you go to market?

“We have to figure out what styles translate best to our customers. Our job is to understand how trends evolve over time and then that we select the right assortment of clothes (dresses, tees, pants, jackets, etc.) and the right assortment of styles (trendy, preppy, edgy, sporty, girly, and so on) across a variety of price points and sizes.”—Caroline Doyle

“We work six months in advance, so we are looking for next season’s clothes on this trip (so we’re focused on Fall 2018). We’ve got a general idea of what we need and we’ll be using meetings to view collections and fill out our needs. A lot of vendors also bring inventory from the current season, so if they have any that’s available to sell, we can chase into styles we need in real time.” —Jennifer Bennett

“Our number one goal at market, and all the time, is understanding what our customers want and why they use Mac & Mia. We love looking at products and making sure we have the right selection of styles for every customer from the community of brands that we hand-select. Our job is to know the trends and be one step ahead so that our customers don’t have to worry about that!” —Allison Bruso

It sounds like getting paid to shop. Is going to market like going shopping?

“That couldn’t be further from the truth! Our jobs are fun and incredible, we do get to look at amazing product all the time, but going to market is really about making data-driven decisions based on past performance so we can continue to delight our customers.” —Allison Bruso

“Before we leave for market, we spend time on pre-season planning work so that we have an analytical understanding of our past performance. This data helps us focus on style, price point, color and material.” —Jennifer Bennett

“We’re at the shows for at least nine hours every day, and we see A LOT of products, so it’s important that we come back with notes on specific details like fabric quality, colors, or even when something is available to ship.” —Caroline Doyle

So what’s going to be in style next fall?

“We’re really excited about a few things already:  an army green bomber, those flippable mermaid sequin tops, leather mini backpacks. We’re also studying trends as we visit brand to brand, so we’re identifying other looks our customers will like the most and what makes sense for our brand’s aesthetic.”—Jennifer Bennett

“One of the things I love about market is discovering new designers that are just starting out and seeing how different vendors, including those that we already work with, take on new trends.” —Caroline Doyle

Is there anything else you want to tell us?

“We love going to market because it allows us to connect and work with our vendors, which is what truly makes Mac & Mia unique. We love being able to grow our relationships and get them excited about partnering with us. We love telling the Mac & Mia story and finding vendors who will help us give our customers what they want from us!” —Allison Bruso