Cabi Blogger Day was like a mini vacation--I got to play dress up, sip champagne and score some quality girl time! For a lifestyle blogger, it was like winning the lottery!
Earlier this month I flew across the country to spend the day with some blogging pals and check out the fabulous new
. The offices are where the design magic happens and it’s also the cabi shipping hub (the place that packs and ships the gorgeous clothes to cabi girls across the nation).
My day started with a welcome breakfast. CEO, Lynne Coté inspired the group with her “state of the union” address. While the rest of the retail world suffers, cabi seems to have found the secret sauce.
Truth: It’s nearly impossible to get great service at a department store anymore. While I used to love a trip to Nordstrom, now I wander around trying to find someone to help. I feel cabi’s rise to the top as a fashion brand has a lot to do with service. The company has managed to earn 5-10% annual sales growth in a challenging retail environment.
While department stores cut back on services, cabi girls are increasing their efforts to serve with style. The cabi stylists are making shopping fun again by providing women with a trusted friend to help them build a wardrobe--not just jam a closet full of clothes.
After hearing about cabi’s plans for continued excellence, we went to meet with Style Director Becky Jantzen (and her pug Bailey) and Chief Design Officer, Kat Woodside. I loved hearing about Kat’s background in denim design (she worked at Paige denim before cabi) and her obsession with fit. Kat also got all misty-eyed when she talked about what a gift it is to design for cabi--”It’s a designer’s dream to be able to design a collection that is sold as a collection, not as pieces,” says Kat.
Each season she dreams up hundreds of ideas and then whittles it down to about 100. (Note: cabi now has four deliveries a year--there are about 30 bonus items called New Arrivals that provide a mid-season infusion and give the cabi stylists an extra reason to reach out to her customers).
Throughout the design process Becky works with Cat to dream up outfits. And then more outfits and more outfits. Cabi doesn’t just want to sell you clothes, they want to give you a wardrobe that empowers you to be your best.
I love how the creative team and the design team work in tandem. After seeing a preview of Fall 2016 (it's fabulous!) we learned about the next step...how the creative team takes the clothing and dreams up marketing materials to tell the story of the collection.
Daniele Trussardi (Creative Director) basically has to direct a movie each season. He picks a setting, selects the actors (the models), does the wardrobe and writes the script. All his effort is meant to make being a cabi stylist a seamless job. With the gorgeous marketing tools they get, it’s easy to sweep women up into the vision for the season. Beyond the magazines and sales materials, Daniele also works with the marketing team to create cabi’s big sales presentation called cabi Scoop (read more about cabi Spring 2016 Scoop).
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It’s all well and good to know how cabi comes up with designs and develops great marketing tools, but what about the actual shopping experience? Let me just say, once you go to a cabi show you will be spoiled for life and NEVER want to shop in a department store again. We were treated to a cabi Fashion Experience led by Cheryl Higgins (VP of Sales) and Kim Carpenter (one of the 10 Founders).
Yes, the duo is extraordinarily experienced, but I think all the cabi girls put the same amounts of enthusiasm, planning and passion into their cabi events. The blogger guests sipped wine, nibbled on grapes and tried on clothes--totally getting into the spirit of what it feels like to be swept up into a fashion experience.
One of the big takeaways: While cabi is a multi-million dollar company, it’s still got all the best parts of a small women-owned business. It feels intensely personal, deeply rooted in service and entirely devoted to making women feel great about their choices.
After all this inspiring information it was time to PLAY! We were given free reign to pick from the sample rack for our special Blogger Day photo shoot.
Danieli oversaw the photos, Becky helped with styling and a professional team of hair and makeup artists made the most of our other assets. The photo session was so much fun, and I love the way they captured my style. It feels like me, just on a very, very good day!
Finally, I was most moved by spending time with Taylor, the Director for the Heart of cabi. Taylor, the Director of the Foundation, started as a stylist, now she works full-time to help cabi as a brand maintain and grow their foundation. The Heart of cabi is all about giving back and paying forward the gift of being supported in business. For the past nine years, cabi has been deeply invested in the Heart of cabi Foundation. They have donated $37,000,000 in clothing donations and helped fund 2,400 small business loans. As part of our blogger day education, we saw a fabulous mini documentary about the micro-lending movement; cabi partners with Opportunity International to give women without access to traditional banking the chance to start a company, feed themselves and educate their children.
The saying “women on purpose” means that cabi’s women are giving in deeds and action. In addition to start up grants, cabi also donates products to charity relief efforts overseas and in the US. When hurricane Katrina hit in 2005 cabi was on the ground with the relief effort donating clothing to those in need.
Thank you so much to cabi for letting me be a part of this incredible day! I was compensated for this post and for my travel time.