Spiewak Outerwear’s Interview with Tia’s Place Owner, Megan O’Sullivan
277 Grove Street
Jersey City, NJ 07302
Monday - Friday 10 am – 8 pm
Saturday 10 am – 6 pm
Sunday 12 pm -6 pm
Grand Central Terminal, Lexington Passageway
89 E. 42nd St.
New York, NY 10017
Monday - Friday 8 am – 8 pm
Saturday 10 am – 8 pm
Sunday 11 am – 6 pm
What was the inspiration behind Tia’s Place?
The store is named for my Grandmother, who always inspired me to do what I loved. She had been a big influence on me in many ways but especially aesthetically. She went to work to help support her family when she was just 14. She never had much money but she always took great pride in her appearance. She believed that looking good was an outward reflection of your interior person and that looking good meant feeling good.
How did you select the areas your stores are located in? What you love about these neighborhoods?
The first store is located in Jersey City, NJ, directly across from downtown Manhattan. I had spent almost 10 years at PricewaterhouseCoopers in the Capital Markets group. I would come back and forth quite often and could see all the people who lived here but had to go elsewhere to shop. The neighborhood is historic and quite charming yet so urban, the perfect mix. It was the perfect place for an independent, small business like ours to start. Our first move in a major market like New York took 5 years and honestly quite a bit of faith. We knew we were finally ready with a distinct offering and the great service that is necessary to be in Manhattan. When we were offered a chance to located at Grand Central we couldn’t pass it up.
Do you have any upcoming store events?
In April we are going to be one of the stores launching the Cynthia Rowley for Roxy capsule collection. It will be featured beginning this week in the Grand Central location. Every year in our Jersey City store we have our Fall Fashion Show hosted by Shape Magazine, it’s one of our most favorite events! Events are a fantastic way to provide your customers with a fun night out and inspire them for the new season, show new trends and introduce them to new designers.
How does the visual design of Tia’s Place brand your retail identity?
We are very visual. It is one of our core concepts for the store. I believe shopping is an experience, one that is enhanced greatly by the visual surroundings. People shop to feel better, to get inspired. It is our job to do that for our customers. We like to tell a story with small vignettes that highlight our product, the season and sometimes trend. We are constantly striving to provide an excellent visual for our customers.
How long have you been carrying Spiewak Outerwear? Why do you and your customers like Spiewak?
Spiewak is one of the very first brands we picked up. I would say the reason was form and function. It’s very easy to find one or the other but rarely both. From day one, before the recession, our customers loved the price-point. They saw such value in the coats for what they were paying. Just as importantly, they loved the design. The traditional “bubble coat” was finally fashionable! I have customers today that tell me they are still wearing their original Spiewak jackets from when we opened.
Besides Spiewak, what are other lines that inspire you and inspire loyalty in your customers?
I would say Quiksilver has been a hit. They started a women’s line a few seasons back that is fantastic. Incredible fabrics, easy fit and great design. Everyone, including myself, has a surf image associated with the brand. So in the beginning we had to get our customers past the label and into the clothes. But once they were in they couldn’t believe it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard “is this really Quiksilver?”
What are the two most important pieces every man and woman needs to add to their wardrobe for spring 2010?
I am a believer in investing in core pieces – such as a great jacket or blazer and the perfect fitting pair of jeans. Spend your money there. These pieces will be transitional and last for years. Then get some fun stuff that is more on trend for the season like a nautical stripe top or girly, floral dress. Try a pair of distressed jeans or jeggings, but try and stick to lower price points for the trendier items, this way the limited wear matches the investment.
What are your personal favorite items in the store right now?
We have some incredible dresses for spring. One favorite is a leopard print silk sheath from Tory Burch. You can wear it during the day with flat sandals or throw on heels at night and go out. It’s tailored enough for the office but sexy enough that you could go straight out after work in it. Also I love a good bag! Changing bags for the season can be all you need to update your look. We have some great new styles from Deux Lux.
Do your travels influence your purchases?I think one of the most important things anyone can do is travel. It’s inspiring. Living in New York, which I think is the greatest city, you can get a bit spoiled, you think it has everything. But when you travel you are inspired by so many things you don’t realize– people, buildings, food, color, landscape, that all translate back into fashion and design. It’s also a great way to discover new, small designers. I’ve found some of our best lines shopping while I was away!
What was your first job in the apparel industry?
My first job was while I still worked at PricewaterhouseCoopers I worked on weekends and holidays to learn the business – everything from steaming to using the register to budgeting and buying. A close friend has a store that she let me work in to learn – it was invaluable.