I launched and ran the Jessica Simpson Outerwear line for 6 years. The first year I was in business was the second year Jessica Simpson was in business as a brand. The brand was relatively new and as I’m sure you have seen, celebrity brands are not always a slam dunk so matter how successful the celebrity. Thankfully Jessica Simpson had a great team overseeing the brand and it was managed well. It has since become a big player in the market.
However when I first signed on I wasn’t as familiar with Jessica as I would later become. It was May 2005 and we were supposed to open the following January. I studied Jessica and found out how famous she was and saw that the label had major potential.
Wishing to strike while the iron was hot (especially since she was at the peak of her career) I convinced the owner of my company to do a soft launch for delivery that year. A soft launch is the release of a new product to a restricted audience or market in advance of a full launch.
We developed a small group of cashmere blend coats which I was able to get test orders for with Dillard’s, Macy’s, and Nordstrom. The line retailed OK but was not amazing. While the styling was spot on I learned that it was priced too high for the market. We brought the prices down dramatically and when we did our full launch we were positioned correctly. It became a major success.
The soft launch was the perfect way to introduce the Jessica Simpson brand. We learned about what our customer was looking for without too much exposure and the stores who tested the line were inclined to place bigger orders going forward. The stores that didn’t test the line yet were also more apt to place business as they saw that we had a product that had the benefit of history, and was fine-tuned to the market.