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Ever owner on new stores and teepee living

By Shelby Stanger
June 22, 2010 6:00 AM

Today, we talk with Ever’s Jason Bleick about why Ever is opening more of its own stores.

Ever is a contemporary brand sold in fashion boutiques and upscale department stores such as Barneys.

The boutique channel has been hard hit during the recession, with many stores closing. But Jason says Ever stores are bucking that trend with strong sales.

How is Ever’s business overall?

Overall it’s really good, especially now that we have three retail stores and are building another store in Santa Monica. We are up more than 25% over last year with retail. E-commerce is up over 100%. Business is actually looking really good. That’s why we are putting up another store.

Currently we have three permanent stores of our own and one pop-up store we opened up a month ago on Abbot Kinney in Venice Beach. It will only be up for six months and we are building another store in Santa Monica. So by August, we’ll have five stores. Over the last year, we have seen huge increases with our retail.

Many retail stores are down right now. What do you attribute your huge growth to?

I think that’s due to the fact that consumers can experience the brand more in our own store than with other retailers. Sales-wise there are less people out there to sell to, but the people who are around are really (high) quality. There are fewer boutiques, but the best boutiques and best people have stayed around and are still going strong. And I think the people who weren’t the best at what they were doing got weeded out with the economy.

What other retailers besides your own shops do you sell to?

Fred Segal, American Rag, Barney’s, Scoop, Intermix, Confederacy (new boutique in LA), and all the better boutiques and department stores.

How are wholesale accounts responding to Ever having its own stores?

There’s always been this belief that if you open your own retail stores near one of your own retailers, it increases their business. I opened in Santa Barbara five miles next to one of our retailers and even though I told him that, he still dropped our brand.

But in Los Angeles, with Fred Segal, I told them I was opening a store right across the street and they were really nice and said, “Hey we can’t go forward with your line,” but people started asking for it at their store so six months later they took the collection back and now we have an EVER section inside Fred Segal and its right across the street from our own store, and the collection is performing very well at both stores.

I think our retail stores actually strengthen the brand and help reinforce our message. That helps everyone. Consumers go in our stores and sees the whole showcase and collection and props and our staff is great. So wherEver they shop and see Ever anywhere else, they love the brand that much more.

How big is the brand now?

We are about a $7 million brand.

And you are self-financed?

Yes.

Are you guys still doing collaborations?

Recently we did a collaboration with Jack Spade and before that we did a collaboration with George Esquivel. He does really nice boots and leather shoes.

Are you doing denim with Analog?

I do consulting with Analog and design their teamriders’ jeans, and the denim collection. I used to work at Quiksilver and worked with a lot of the teamriders there, so am working with Analog on the side as just a personal thing.

Click on Page 2 to read about Matuse wetsuits and why Jason lives in a teepee.

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