Tailoring Directly to Their Customers: A Chat With Sue & Robert Prenner
CS: What they like most about the catalog/multichannel business?
SP: I think both of us enjoy the resourcing of fabric and color and new product, each year finding one thing that’s really special and different. We start the process out in terms of clothing approximately 18 months before we see a catalog. We’re spending time in mills and we’re looking at weaves and fabrics. That’s fun. For me, cause I’m much more involved in the design side as to the actual marketing of the catalog and Web, I really like working hands-on in all the design programs, and I do write the copy. I get a big kick out of all of that. Unfortunately it’s becoming to big of a job for me to be doing it all myself. It’s been fun over the years to work with very talented designers and to develop the catalog into a more refined instrument. We’re always striving to make it better. Both of us are by training lawyers, so we tend to be very careful about what we put on paper. It took me a long time to learn to be wordier so that I could sell better, and Bob is really good at cutting back the wordiness. Between the two of us I think we do a pretty good job.
BP: The creative side — whether it’s with the merchandise or with the catalog in print itself — that’s what we really sort of get turned on to. The challenge is to stay within this niche that we’re in but somehow seem fresh. As you can see, a lot of these old-time catalogs or advertising pieces can get pretty tired looking. If we don’t think that the catalog for the upcoming season isn’t the best one we’ve ever done, we have to change it. Constantly holding that as our challenge.