Combine fashion, travel and a regular string of male models. What do you get (besides a pretty fantastic day)? For Blair DeLongy, VP of Retail Operations for John Craig Clothier, it’s all part of the job.
Here, she takes us behind the scenes of her daily schedule—both in Naples and on her regular buying trips to New York and Chicago—as she manages the selling, merchandising, marketing and buying for the seven fine menswear stores her family owns throughout Southwest Florida, Orlando and Winter Park.
Then, head over to The Scout Guide Naples to see more photos from Blair’s recent buying trips. (This is the first blog collab in our new partnership with The Scout Guide, and we couldn’t be more excited!)
What does a typical day consist of for you?
I do a little bit of everything! I wish it was as organized as, “Mondays, I work on reorders; Tuesdays, I work on marketing; Wednesdays, I work on events,” but it never seems to happen that way.
I always work out of my office at the Ritz-Carlton store, which is an awesome work environment, to say the least. My typical day will start by responding to a large inbox of emails from vendors, store managers or advertisers. Then I’ll usually call the stores and see what’s selling and what’s not, and make sure we fill in and transfer any product that isn’t moving. Out of our seven stores, each one has a different personality, so what works at one might not move at another. It is like constantly trying to solve a puzzle to get the right mix at the right time. The rest of the day is usually a balancing act between re-merchandising our stores, working on window displays, selling to some my favorite customers, or working on a buy for next season.
You take frequent buying trips for your stores. (Hello, dream job!) What’s it like when you’re traveling?
Traveling is one of my favorite parts of my job. It is where I draw all my inspiration and get to use my creative side. I go to New York City three times a year for buying trips and twice a year for a photo shoot for the biannual John Craig magazine, and I usually take one trip to Chicago in August to finish up the spring buy.
The trips are fun but so hectic at the same time—they truly take every ounce of energy you have. My day usually starts with a 7 a.m. workout, followed by a 9 a.m. appointment, either at a showroom or at a men’s show. Then I have appointments hourly about 5 or 6 p.m. which consist of recapping how the last season went with that vendor, then viewing the collection for the upcoming season. We go over trends, what’s worked and what hasn’t, and the brand’s inspiration for that season. During these appointments, I’m thinking, which store would this work in? Did I see something similar at another appointment? If so, which has the better price and fit? And most importantly, can it sell?
The tricky part is taking my love of fashion and blending it with the realistic business aspect. I might be obsessed with a cashmere blend windowpane blazer in a rich merlot color, but will that really sell in September in Naples?
After the appointments, we usually attend a market party hosted at a showroom, then go off to dinner with one of our vendors. The day is literally nonstop and requires your “A” game 24/7, but the energy in the city keeps you going.
What’s the best thing about your career?
It is rewarding having a man leave your store dressed well and with more confidence than when he came in. So many men need direction and help. I am shocked at how still come in the store with pleated pants dragging on the floor.
How would you describe “the John Craig man”?
Dapper, colorful and sophisticated. But what’s great about our store is we have something for everyone, from the guy who’s more simple and casual to the one who wants to be the life of the party.
How do you define your personal style?
Preppy chic. I always abide by less is more. I’ve never been one to chase after trends—wear what works for you.
What are your spring/summer beauty essentials?
A great lightweight tinted moisturizer. I am obsessed with Laura Mercier’s Illuminating tinted moisturizer.
Purchase you’ll never regret?
A great navy blazer. I bought one from Smythe about three years ago, and I’m still obsessed with it. It is so versatile and classic.
Where would you go on a once-in-a-lifetime getaway?
What upcoming Naples event are you looking forward to?
The Naples Juniors Derby Dash, of course!
What local cocktail must our readers try?
Pigalle at Bar Tulia—it’s St. Germain, prosecco, soda and lemon. To die for!
Head to The Scout Guide Naples for more behind-the-scenes photos!
John Craig Clothier
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All photos courtesy of Blair DeLongy