Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Looky Looky: LIV Part 3

LIZ: Given that today the general public is a lot more environmentally aware, how important do you think it is to stock eco friendly products?

JOANNA: We’ve tried various things, we’ve always had organic towels and sheets available, we have an organic babies clothing line. They are not always my best sellers, but I like to have them there on offer, but I think that at this point in time I am not sure how on board the consumer really is. I know there’s a core of people who are hard core organic and maybe we just don’t get them yet. Mass population wise, we did a huge organic launch last year of robes, towels and sheeting, if it sold it was because consumers liked the look of it, the eco friendly aspect was not always a selling feature.

But don’t forget that Au lit where we launched all this, everything is European cotton, made in Canada, our cotton product is as environmentally sound as one that has been called organic. Our mill in Italy has been on that wagon for 20 years, so it’s like you’re really pulling hairs. I think people care more when it comes to things like their children’s toys and clothes, we carry an organic kid’s clothing line, I have a five month old so I like that it’s organic and made in Toronto.

LIZ: What sort of business experience and or lesson have you learned from watching and working with your mother?

JOANNA: Well everything, I started working for her when I was 13. Here in Toronto it was how to make a bed, that whole Au lit look was all my mom, selling, product knowledge, the buying. The only thing I would say that is mine and I’ve have to do on my own is the clothing. I think with buying its safe to say you have an instinct for it or not, and my mom definitely does and I think it’s fair to say that I do as well. So I think I get it from her. I admire her vision, she’s never been afraid to try anything. She’s so fearless.

LIZ: What can customers expect to see in the future from LIV? Any new product lines, trends?

JOANNA: For spring we are turning the entire back half of the store into a huge loungewear department, with a the pj vibe but some sexier. Expanding on loungewear and the basics in a range of prices and styles. The styles coming for spring, I am calling it sexy and sloppy, because everything is loose, off the shoulder, we have the jegging, and it’s denim but is as comfortable as a legging. Brand new bedding line, love seats that are slip covered in the fabrics that match the bedding. Everything in bedding is natural linen washed look, it’s tying in sexy sloppy. Casual luxury, everything is high end and quality, but washed and a little ruffled.

LIZ: What would you say is the difference from Montréal to Toronto as far as consumers are concerned?

JOANNA: Don’t forget my neighbourhood is North Toronto, I’m sure on Queen Street they are probably more like a Montréal shopper, but I think in Montréal they are a little more adventurous, a little more individual. In Toronto the trends are gangbusters, a lot of that is because of the designer and they have set styles, what’s amazing about that is that if you connect with Toronto consumers, you can really have amazing collections, it can be amazing we never had that in Montréal where people would go crazy for one particular style and it would be a blazing hit. Whereas in Toronto you have that potential they are very discerning. Montréal-ers are a little more quirky, but this is just my experience in North Toronto. Montréal-ers are much more willing to put their money in social activities, they love to go out, eat out. Torontonians are nesters, they love their homes, and they love putting their heart into their homes.