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eye4style Interview - Luna Boston Buyer Sarah Johnson

Luna Boston is among the BEST online shops for handbags and accessories, particularly from emerging designers. I've ordered from the site several times and always been thrilled with their frequent codes, super fast shipping and thoughtful packaging (they always include a handwritten thank you note, along with a small treat like a yummy scented bar of soap or some candy.) So when I was presented with the opportunity to interview the store's buyer, Sarah Johnson, I jumped at the chance to bring her insights to eye4style readers.  Read on and be sure to leave a comment with your thoughts!

Tell us how you got your start as a buyer.

I'd worked in retail my whole life, and my favorite part of retail was always opening and processing the new boxes of product, and I have always had a head for math. So, when we opened Luna Boston, it only made sense to me to get into buying!

What's the best part of your job?

Getting a head start on all of the trends, and watching and predicting how they will develop over time. It's fascinating to watch the process, from when designers first show us product previews to when they actually hit the retail floor and we see reaction from the end customer.

The worst?

Sometimes I find that I am too excited about what's coming next to personally enjoy what's here now. For example, right now it's just starting to get cold outside, but we are buying and getting excited about late spring and summer in the fashion world, so I am already looking forward to those products. I guess it's good for my wallet, but I don't find that I get quite as interested in in-season shopping for myself as I used to.

What do you look for when shopping the market for Luna Boston? 

I look for a few things: obviously trends and current styles, but also usability and the history of a brand. We want to make sure that our product is gorgeous to look at, but handbags are functional too, so we also make sure that it also makes sense to use. If a bag is too heavy or hard to get into, for example, it won't sell, or women will receive it at home, put it on their shoulder, and put it right back into the box. Sometimes designers, particularly newer ones, don't incorporate enough practicality into bags, so part of my job is to filter out bags that are going to be functional misses.

I also look for history of a brand - I look for proven quality and on-time delivery. I look at how long a designer has been making a particular style...is it a classic with a proven following, or is it possibly one season past its prime? These things are all factors for customers when the bags hit retail, so they have to be factors in my buying decisions.

How is Luna Boston different from other retailers?

We are different from other retailers because we do consider all of these things; I see a lot of retailers getting overly caught up in the trends being pitched to them, without thinking about how customers will respond. We are also different because once we commit to a designer or a collection, we carry all of the best pieces of that collection, rather than just the one or two showcase pieces. We also try to maintain a blend of what's currently hot and what's going to be hot next - most recently, this was with Rebecca Minkoff...previously, we spotted Kooba in 2004 and Hayden-Harnett in 2005, seasons before they became the hot lines that they are today.

What trends will we see for Resort and Spring?

As far as spring/summer 2009, we're going to see rocker-influenced chic - studs, zippers, tassels - but done in a wearable, urban way. For the uber-trendy girl, it's all about neon accents, which I love. It started on fingernails this summer, and is making its way into our wardrobes for next spring.

Treesje's Hudson Hobo, $495

Last but not least, any designers to watch?

Treesje and Linea Pelle. We have carried Treesje since the day we opened and I've always felt that they had huge potential. The line has grown slowly because they've managed their growth carefully and professionally, with an eye on the long-term -- but they have built the right foundation and this line is on the verge of becoming huge. Linea Pelle is another Los Angeles based line, with a completely different aesthetic. Their handbag line is a little newer, but their materials and designs are gorgeous and unique.

Thanks so much to Sarah and Luna Boston for the interview!

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