Carole Christian, owner of Carole's Collections, began her fashion career as a sales rep for a jewelry designer soon after graduating with a business degree from Georgia State. Carole recalls, "In the 1980's, fashion industry sales was a highly competitive, fast paced, high paying career. " Carole loved every minute of it. She loved the fashions, the energy and the lifestyle. Over the years the industry changed but Carole's passion for fashion remained a driving force in her life; and finally this passion drove her to open her own wholesale showroom. In 2001, Carole's Collections was launched in the AmericasMart fashion merchandise complex.
Carole claims to have cornered the market for upscale contemprorary womens fashion and her prominent showroom at AmericasMart is one part of her strategy. "Atlanta is one the biggest fashion merchandising markets in the US. It's bigger than New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Miami!"
Carole's Collections carved out a niche in the southeast, carrying unique upscale contemporary lines recognized for bold colors, geometric patterns, figure flattering cuts and precision detailing. These garments, marketed under the Rubber Ducky Productions label, retail in the $300 - $400 price range and are targeted to the 19 - 30 age group. With such an emphasis on looking younger theses days, physically fit women in the 30 - 50+ age group are also frequent buyers. Celebrities including Eva Longoria (of Desperate Housewives) is frequently seen wearing styles from Rubber Ducky Productions.
Carole is aware of developing trends in fashion and sees a new market for plus size women as well. For many plus size women there are very few high fashion alternatives. Carole is working with her designers to launch a new line of affordable, high fashion tops and dresses for plus size women. This new line willl launch under the label of CC Couture. Carole's designers are working overtime to keep costs associated with larger sizes down so there will be several price points to compliment her existing lines for smaller women. Plus sizes dresses range from size 16 to 24 and regular sizes run from size 2 to 16. "The styles, cut, patterns, and fabrics must offer the same high fashion look for plus size women - but the styles will be quite different to flatter the figure in unique ways" says Carole. In addition to launching CC Couture, Carole plans to expand into denim designs. Carole's goals for growth include expanding her showroom, expanding the lines offered, and penetrating the market with more traveling salespeople.
Most of the specialty clothiers manufacturer garments to order requiring minimum size orders and substantial lead times. With credit extremely tight, and a dynamically changing economy, many boutique owners are not ready to commit to large purchases with long lead times. Carole's Collections is an "immediate resources" showroom which means that orders are fulfilled within 7-10 days from inventory. This business model used to cater to boutiques that underestimated their inventory requirements and sold out of merchandise between seasons. Now a days, showrooms offering immediate resources are capturing an ever larger market share as retailers seek to keep lean inventories and reorder more frequently. Carole explains, "I have a few retailers who place orders three times a month. Some of these customers drive to the showroom on day trips from nearby states. Our traveling salespeople also call on them in their stores."
Trumping the fear of failure, Carole attributes her success to being driven and having a passion for what she does. She hires knowledgeable, friendly staff and treats new clients to free shipping on their first order. Carole also caters to the needs of small boutique owners with flexibility on minimum order sizes. Carole attributes her gregarious nature to moving around a lot as a child and watching her father who was a store manager for Sears. "I learned to make friends quickly, surround myself with positive happy people, and find happiness from within."
When she's not driving the business and reading fashion magazines, Carole likes to run, indulge in some fine dining, and travel to places like the Caribbean, France and Italy. She is a single mother with a sixteen year old daughter and dog who also demands her attention.
To learn more about Carole's Collections call the showroom at 404.589.0098 to schedule your visit.
Sam Dobrow is a freelance reporter, writer, and photographer based in Atlanta, GA. More information about Sam Dobrow is available on the web at www.samdobrowphotography.com