Liz answers your questions

Liz Money, Trend ReporterYou asked so many great questions! I do have to be honest, I had a little help answering some of them, but only because I wanted to give you the best possible answers. It wasn’t because I didn’t know the answer …
no, no, not at all.

Q: Paula Fisk asked: Can we submit product suggestions?

A: Yes, of course! We love your feedback on both positive and negative aspects of our current designs, as well as what you think we might be missing. Currently, you can submit suggestions through any of our social media channels (Facebook, Twitter or right here on our blog) or by sending us a letter.

Q. Lydia Strain asked:Does customer feedback on social media sites impact what Vera Bradley does?

A:  Yes! We meet monthly with our Merchandise Management team to go over suggestions made through all outlets. We do our best to stay on top of what the consumer has, wants and needs, and to put these things in the line while staying true to our brand identity.

Q. Mary, Deb, Julie K., Kath, Christine, Steph, Chas, Fran Curran, Kelsey Batey and Kendall Bb’s inquired about and offered great product suggestions:

A. The answer is, it’s all a secret and I can’t give everything away! I can tell you that we constantly have our eye out for new designs and ideas to create product that we know you’ll love. The designers and I are always looking for innovative ways to bring in new categories and we would love to design them all, however, there are a lot of factors that weigh these decisions. For instance, how are we going to market, merchandise and distribute these products? Where and when is the best time to bring them into the line? And, most importantly, is it
Vera Bradley”?

Q. Tracy H., Pam, Lynn, Hillary, Julie K., Lilac Wolf and Natalie E. asked: How do we decide to retire patterns? Is it only based on dollars? And how do we decide how many patterns or new colors to bring into the line? Will we ever bring back retired patterns?

A:  The decision to retire patterns is always a sad one and relies on many factors. The finance of the pattern is of course a factor. We figure, if you aren’t buying it, then it probably wasn’t a good pattern to bring into the line, or it is one that you no longer desire. There are also questions of how the line looks as a whole. If we have a lot of blues and pinks in the line, for instance, and the upcoming collection features similar hues, we might eliminate an older color and replace it with a new one.

The number of patterns released with each new collection is usually a set number of four per season (Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter), but sometimes we just can’t seem to choose our favorite so we might sneak in one more. Plus, we like to keep our sales team on their toes!

While there are those we would all love to see again, we have never made plans to bring back a retired pattern. But, we’ve learned to never say never. In the case of Java Blue, we felt, it had a good long run and we wanted to bid it farewell on a positive note.

Q. Lisa Q., Natalie E., Hanna, Lisa Ouzts, Renee Clady, Jasmine Jordan and Susie Patton asked: How are trends decided? Do we set the trend? Where do we look for inspiration, and how long does this process take?

A: We begin looking at trends and inspiration about a year and a half before you ever see it. Actually, I just gave the designers information about what styles are trending highly for our Fall 2012 Signature collection! Patterns and colors take about 3 – 4 months to develop through a process much like evaluating pieces of artwork in a gallery. We hang the options on the wall and proceed to narrow them down by many scientific and psychological studies, the likes of which I can not reveal. However I can promise you that none of those studies involve darts, maybe.

The question of how we develop trends is such a fun one because we get inspiration from everywhere and everything! It comes from you, fashion and gifts, blogs, research shopping (painful, I know), where we look for colors, styles and just about anything that inspires us. We travel all over to try and provide a diverse pool of concepts. Then we do our best to translate all of that into what will work for our consumer.

Do we set the trends? For some we do, and I’d like to think that people look to us for inspiration as we look to others, but I wouldn’t say that any one thing sets a trend. It’s about everything that is going on around all of us!

For us, two days are never the same. We’re extremely collaborative when it comes to creating, meeting, sharing and researching future designs. Our technical team spends their days perfecting the designs. They send out test samples, primarily to Vera Bradley employees, then gather information to assess any imperfections, then they tweak the designs until they are up to the Vera Bradley quality standards. We do love to have an occasional dance party and enjoy spending time together laughing and generally being goofy. (It helps stir the creative juices!)

Q. Susan Scheungrab asked: How long does it take for a new concept to go from thought to finish? Are the pieces and the fabric conceived together, or are they different teams that ultimately come together to form the perfect items?

A: It’s about a year and half from the time we start researching a style or color, to the time it launches in stores. There’s a long, technical process that begins with concepts and samples from our sample room and ends with the fashions you love.

Yes, the product and the colors are designed separately. The color is designed first, followed by new products. While we all have different roles, everyone does ultimately come together to help create what we hope is a mix of product that will suit the season, the consumer and the trends.

Q. PJ asked: Are you trying to appeal to every age group now or primarily the younger buyer?

A: We do our best to market to ladies of all ages. The diversity of our consumer, because it is so broad, is one of the best and most challenging things we encounter as a company. We want to engage all ages in our products and campaigns, which we aim to achieve through the use of friends and family in our photography, and highlighting points of interest like back to campus, seasonal trends and holidays.

Q. Jaime A. asked: How do you decide where to test market patterns?

A: We use locations based on region of the country so that we can gauge the pulse of consumers from around the country.  We try to stay consistent with locations so that we can compare results from one year to the next.

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22 Responses to Liz answers your questions

  1. Lydia Strain says:

    Thank you so much for answering my question !

  2. Lisa says:

    Great section of the blog. I have always wondered about some of those questions that were asked. Thanks for the answers.

  3. Fran Curran says:

    Liz– thank you for your response. The beauty of VB is the element of surprise you bring every season!

  4. Jo says:

    Loved reading all of your answers. Nice job!

  5. Luanne N Edwards says:

    I have an obsession with these bags…I used to make mine doing the quilting myself til i had a niece give me one then I was hooked

  6. Marian migliore says:

    I have an obsession too with Vera, it started last year. It’s like it’s insulin to me. Will it end? I sure hope my friends and family like Vera as much as I do cause i am buying a lot of presents!

  7. Nicol W says:

    My four girls all love their Vera backpacks and lunch totes which are HOT at their school right now. Each one has her “pattern” Loves Me, Med White, Purple Punch, and one daughter even has two – Pinwheel Pink and Purple Punch. I suggest a decorative clip on like the frill keychains, but very inexpensive. Almost something the girls would collect and trade. Remember the old pom-poms we’d make out of yarn? Those things you’d tie to your suitcase to stand out? How about a round poly-filled ball that is made from a small patch of Vera fabric in the latest patterns of the season? A length of Vera ribbon attached to it and a clip on the other end so it could be clipped on the backpack straps or zipper pulls. Would make a great keychain as well.

    And earrings? You need to create earrings as well as flash drives in pretty patterns. I’ll stop now…. 🙂

  8. Jamie A. says:

    Thanks for selecting my question! I love my fall pattern that I picked up at Deer Park when they were being tested and I’ve gotten lots of compliments as well.

  9. Barbara says:

    Thanks for answering so many questions. Many office staff members wish you would consider making an iPad purse to hold the iPad and everyday necessities. The iPad is becoming very useful at work and you need to carry it to and from.Many thanks for your unique carrying cases.

  10. Pingback: Views from the Porch Swing ~ May and June 2011 « Porch Swing Memories’ News

  11. Jovina says:

    I am late coming into the Vera Bradley fold, but enjoy your products immensely. Two of my daughters are fans of your products and introduced me to them. Am I happy they did. Your designs just make one feel so pretty when you use them. I was wondering if you ever used a pattern with cream or biege background. I like patterns in the brown/ orange range, but sometimes they are just too intense for me. My favorite model in handbags is the Bowler. This style just fits my needs to a tee, but invariably the handles wear out first. Has any thought been given to using something different to construct the handles? Also, I would love to see some attention given to this style in your featured markdowns — with free shipping thrown in for good measure. Please keep up your wonderful work and excellent quality of product. Thank you for your work in the behalf of women everywhere.


  12. Danielle K. says:

    I think a great product you should come out with is an “upgrade” to the planners, as somebody who still uses a hard planner for EVERYTHING, as well as my smartphone, I love the new agenda’s but what would make it even better is if you made them in a softcover almost like a franklin covey or a day runner, with the credit card pockets and just something for the business oriented girl who loves their planner. I think it would look fantastic i know i’d buy one in a heartbeat!

  13. Caprice Robinson says:

    I would love if you would start shipping to Canada.

  14. Allison K says:

    Will you ever make lemon parfait 28 in rolling luggage? i would love that pattern for luggage!

  15. Jessica Nedwicke says:

    I have been a big fan of Vera Bradley for years! I have a few concerns, one is that because there are so many patterns coming and going that it may not be giving the product enough time to be reconized as a VERA Bag! Also I have really noticed that from my much older bags to the current ones that, there seems to be a quality change! The bags are not as thick or quilted as well. The fabric feels thiner stiched, pockets are not thick and stiched either. The bags feel light and not as durable as they used to be! Perfectly great styles of bags are leaving, while they are being replaced with something that looks like it been made to save every penny possible! I have for years always bought a new handbag each new release, I have skipped the last two season releases. I dont want to give up on Vera! I just wonder if this is the way the company is going for now on? Knock offs are getting better and better! People can’t hardley tell the differnce cause patterns are in and out the door so fast. If you dont know your Vera’s like I do. Then every patterned bag are just going to all look the same. I loved getting complements from people about my Vera Bags cause It had its time to earn its name, back when there were only a few speacil ones released at a time. Patterns will grow on people too, cause they want to stay up to date with what everyone else has. Instead you are trying to make a patteren for everyone one out there.Go Back To Quality NOT Quantity! The Butter is being spread to thin! And theres alot of bread Not just from Vera but many other companys trying to jump on your band wagin. I Love you all Liz your so cute! even though it might not be you who actually responds. I hope I hear something back cause I am a concernd Loyal Vera Customer for years!

  16. Jessica Nedwicke says:

    What is the release date for fall 2012 pattern please!

  17. caseymom says:

    I have several Vera Bradley bags. So many colors to choose from! I have made a product to go with my purses and have been selling out at craft fairs. Do you take submissions for licensing an idea?

  18. georgia jeffers says:

    some of our olders purses we love so much and just need new handleswould it be possible for you to open a repair shop in ft wayne where we could bring our products in to get new handles or zippers

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