23 and an avid fashionista, Leah Justman knew that there had to be an alternative to blowing her entire paycheck on those designer items she craved. How could she mix and match those must haves with edgy and cool looks from emerging brands? Where was the place to do that? When she couldn’t find that “place,” she did what any amazing #girlboss entrepreneur would..she created it! Read on to learn more about this inspiring trend setter and to discover the awesome Place Showroom:
- What is Place Showroom?
Place Showroom is a multi-branded women’s contemporary wholesale consulting and sales agency. We are the gatekeepers that tie the link between emerging or established brands to the retailers. Place opened its doors in the heart of the Los Angeles fashion district in 2005 and later expanded to New York, Atlanta and Dallas. Since our conception, our mission has been to create an environment where emerging brands are professionally nurtured, and retailers are professionally cared for. Whether you’re looking to introduce your innovative new line to buyers, or you’re looking to be the first on the block to carry the trends of tomorrow: you’ll find your place in ours.
- What inspired you to start Place?
I was 23 years old and one year into my first job in the wholesale industry after many years of being in retail. I was in love with fashion and would splurge every paycheck on all the new, must-have trends. I wasn’t in the position financially to afford all the designer things that I lusted over. I quickly started mixing and matching designer brands with affordably priced items. I wanted to recreate the overall look I had been spending my entire paycheck to achieve. I quickly figured out that style isn’t about how much you spend or the label associated with it. I realized that there was a market gap for quality product at a competitive price point. Shortly after this realization, I set off on my own to create a space catering to that concept and Place was born. I wanted a showroom that catered to young women in fashion like myself who could still shop till they dropped without breaking their bank. Slowly the market began to adopt this style of shopping. The one thing that Place really became known for was mixing and matching high and low priced trends, and as the market adjusted, Place grew organically.
- What is different about Place?
Place is not your typical showroom. To be honest, I really don’t like calling us a showroom anymore, we offer so many more brand building services than any other multi branded showroom. We’ve evolved into a multi-faceted wholesale agency. Our team is the best in the market specializing in sales, product development, marketing, merchandising, brand building, design feedback, costing, and more while staying true to the integrity of the brand. We have a clear understanding of our target market and can execute results.
- How is Place growing? How do you get the word out?
Place has been on the fast track for the past eleven years. Our exquisite client-centric services keep us at the forefront of retailer’s minds. We build and deliver great brands to the market place and as a result, our customers have become Place loyalists. They aren’t afraid to take risks or try new trends that we bring to the market based on the success that they’ve had with brands we’ve previously launched. By offering our customers better priced better quality goods along with an interactive brand experience, our customers keep coming to Place for more.
We get the word out through our successful partnerships and by leveraging our strong relationships. We often meet new clients because they want to sit next to the brands that we already represent. In any industry, reputation is everything. Our reputation for being tough, competitive, hard-working and on-trend is something that I am so proud of.
- What do you think has surprised you the most about being a business founder?
I think what has surprised me the most is how the work ethic has changed. I was raised in a household where with hard work, commitment, and dedication any opportunity could be within reach. I was taught to find a line of work that you are passionate about so you enjoy the work you are doing and in time, that passion would create a foundation for success and growth. I am passionate about my line of work and attribute that passion to my success. Today, I’m surprised at how quickly people jump from job to job because they don’t see the results or career growth that they want in the timeframe that they had in mind. I see so much potential in the young workforce, but would encourage them to be patient. There is so much to learn.
- What’s trending for spring?
For Spring, we’re seeing exaggerated details really trending like ruffles, bows, and statement sleeves. It seems as if we’re slowly moving from a cold shoulder to a one-shouldered asymmetrical neckline, and the ‘old new’ is huge trend too. I’m seeing 80’s and 90’s influences everywhere, along with anything vintage redone.
- What’s your own style? Do you have a go to look that you love for work and/or for the weekends?
I’m really into the ‘old new’ trend. I’m all about pairing a broken-in pair of vintage denim with any of the Place labels. I’m a huge advocate of all the brands we represent and love wearing the product we sell. On the weekends, you can find me in vintage denim with a versatile Tularosa blouse paired with easy Sol Sana slides for day. I’ll typically change into a flowing Faithfull dress layered under a leather jacket to head to dinner with my husband. You’ll rarely find me wearing product I don’t represent.
- How do you choose the brands you work with?
There are several factors that come into play when determining to take on a new client. First and foremost, product is key. When looking at a new line, I always ask myself if there is a void in the market for this product. Does it compete with product that I currently represent? Is there a clear brand DNA? Brand messaging and identity is really important. Who is your audience? Who is your target customer? You should know your audience as well as you know yourself. There is so much noise in the market so it’s incredibly important for us to be able to tell a clear story and evoke emotion. Great branding is the best way to truly connect with your audience, while creating a loyal customer in the process. Secondly, I look at price point. The market is extremely competitive and our customer is savvy. They shop around to find the best deals and they aren’t afraid to mix and match high-end with affordably priced items. Is there perceived value in the items we are selling? Can the customer find the same look somewhere else for a better price? Lastly, I look for a designer that is prepared for growth and all that comes with it! This is a partnership and if Place delivers sales, we need our brands to be able to overcome all obstacles and challenges that they encounter and deliver the best quality product to our customers on time.
- Knowing what you know now, would you have done anything different while in college to be prepared to be a business founder?
I probably would have gone to business school! I truly believe that education is the best gift that you can give and receive. Venturing into my own business, I’ve learned so much firsthand over the past decade, but going into it with the foundation of business school would have given me a leg up. On the other hand, I’ve learned the hard way, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that route! I like to call it failing up.
What is your advice for anyone with a fashion start up?
Never over promise and under deliver. I’m invariably realistic and candid with partners and employees about my expectations and expect the same courtesy. The best way to ensure a successful partnership is to treat every person that you encounter with respect. The fashion world is so interconnected and you never want to burn your bridges.
I would also say that starting a company is a lifestyle and you need to be 100% committed. It is so important to be realistic with yourself about the sacrifices that you are willing to make, because there are no days off as a business owner.
- Any last words of advice or inspiration?
Success is rarely an overnight thing! Be patient and continue to invest in your dream and vision. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or advice. You’d be surprised at how many entrepreneurs will help another entrepreneur to be successful.