10 Questions with Shawne Jacobs, President of Anne Barge
1) Tell us the brief story of how you and Anne Barge got together and how that lead to your purchase of her company.
I started working in an entry level position at Anne Barge in 2002. Over the course of my first 10 years with the company I worked in every department: Shipping & Receiving, Account Management, Design, Fabric Sourcing, Sales and Production. I learned so much from Anne - she was, and still is, an incredible mentor for me. When my husband, Steven and I purchased the company in 2014, it was an honor to know I would be carrying on Anne’s legacy.
2) What is the overall concept of the Anne Barge brand?
The Anne Barge brand is renowned for timeless style with a contemporary twist. Each dress is inspired by vintage couture, combining the best of classic designs and modern trends.
3) With your breadth and knowledge of the American bride, what have you found that is both the same and different about her today?
The one thing that hasn't changed about the American bride is that she still wants to feel special on her wedding day. She still shops emotionally, but every year there are new factors that influence her decision. Social media, for example, provides such an influx of design inspiration, right at the modern brides’ fingertips, sometimes making it hard for her to come to a decision in the fitting room.
Brides today are also waiting a little longer to get married and more often purchasing their own gown. This leads to a sense of practicality and refined taste. This past season we saw a revival of more conservative and classic styles across the industry as a whole, and I think age has something to do with that.
4) The essence of the Anne Barge company is customer driven, how does that cycle work?
We learn so much from our brides in respect to both fit and style. As we begin designing for the upcoming October market, we’re looking back at the past year, especially at our custom orders.
5) What does it take to work well with a retail store?
Effective communication is critical in any business relationship. Our stores know that they can reach our sales and production team at any time if needed.
Loyalty is also an important component of a successful retail store and designer relationship. Retailers want the confidence of knowing that a temporary dip in sales won't result in a designer looking to sell to a competing retailer. Similarly, designers want to work retailers who look beyond any one season's line and work to establish a long relationship with a brand.
6) Explain the Curve Couture concept.
The Anne Barge brand has always catered to real women in every size. I wanted to create a unique, size inclusive, retail experience for brides by including a full range of sample sizes at our trunk shows, and the Curve Couture campaign was born. Our retailers can now host an Anne Barge Curve Couture Trunk Show comprised of more than 20 gowns that have been carefully curated in sizes 14 - 22.
7) Since launching Curve Couture, what has been the reaction with retailers and with brides?
The response has been overwhelmingly positive. The trunk show schedule is completely booked into 2018 across the entire country and it’s been a really exciting part of our growth this year. We’re learning more about the relationship between fit and design, and we now have an opportunity to modify certain styles to look best in a full range of sizes using feedback from our brides. This market we had several retailers modify their stock purchases to include gowns in sizes 14-22 and we’re taking that as another positive sign of market change.
8) What are the best selling price points for Anne Barge collections today?
Our best selling price points for Anne Barge couture are between $4,000 and $5,000 MSRP. Blue Willow Bride's best selling price point between $2,000 and $2,500 MSRP.
9) What trends are selling?
Our brides still love last year's bare shoulder trend and our best selling gown, Berkeley, has a romantic off-the-shoulder neckline. Oversized bows, as seen on our Summersweet gown, and high-low hemlines as seen on our Mia and Ryland gowns, are details that are trending for us, as are some of our sleeker styles, Langham, Fitzgerald, Raquel, with crisp lines offered in different silhouettes and fabrications. It’s a mix!
10) Can you give us some hints on your plans or direction for the future growth of Anne Barge?
We will continue to work with our current US retailers to grow our market share domestically, but we’re also exploring foreign markets, Canada, the UK and possibly Barcelona.
I’m excited to say we’re in the process of designing our third eveningwear collection. These gowns currently have limited distribution in our bridal retail locations as well as our Atlanta showroom. We plan on taking the eveningwear line to a broader market throughout the next few years.
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