For Rye resident Amy Coleman, fashion was always a passion and something she wanted to pursue, she just didn’t know how to break into the business.
By Caitlin Brown
For Rye resident Amy Coleman, fashion was always a passion and something she wanted to pursue, she just didn’t know how to break into the business. A serendipitous meeting changed all that, and she began working with Beverly Karnell, a high-end dress designer in New York City. The designer had a made-to-order business and Coleman, a customer of hers, would come to her to have dresses made that she envisioned but couldn’t find in stores.
Coleman’s passion for the process, the clothes, and her keen eye, convinced the designer to ask her to come on board as a partner. Thrilled at the opportunity, Coleman dove in and began expanding the designer’s customer base, taking on marketing… choosing the textiles. She learned the industry first-hand and was able to cultivate relationships with people in the business. She was also able to quickly educate herself on the intricacies of good design.
Years later, when Coleman decided to move her young family from Manhattan to the suburbs, she found herself with a larger house and a lot of space to fill. True to form, she wanted designer pieces without the high price tags, but didn’t know where to look. A gallery owner friend from Larchmont pointed her in the direction of Consignment on Main in New Rochelle.
Coleman developed a relationship with the owner, Candice Denslow, who eventually said, ‘Why not open a shop inside the store, where you can sell your unique, vintage designer clothes, accessories, and jewelry?’ Amy jumped at the opportunity. “My girls were now teen-agers and I couldn’t sit at home idly. I wanted to do something. This was it!” She set up shop in the back of the 5,000-square-foot store, and Sweet Preserves was born.
The shop easily blends into the larger, consignment furniture space. “It’s fun, I get to change it up all the time. A few months ago I had these great Versace chairs.” Vintage Audrey Hepburn photos flank beautifully displayed vintage costume jewelry, much of it done by Jack LiBuono, who has done pieces for Sophia Lauren and other Hollywood stars. A vintage Chanel bathing suit hangs on the wall and the clothes, merchandised according to color, include designer names: Chanel, Pucci, Ferragamo, and Carolina Herrera among others.
The inventory is carefully chosen. Coleman has “pickers” in Westchester, Atlanta, and in her native Kentucky. These specialists share her discerning eye and are well versed in all things designer, special, well made, and unique. Coleman gets her merchandise from them regularly, and also buys at nearby estate sales. When Consignment on Main goes to an estate sale that includes pieces of interest (jewelry, clothing, accessories), they call Coleman.
Consignors are also, of course, a big contributor and they keep coming back for a reason. Relationships are very important here; so important, in fact, that Coleman has been known to cut her commission on occasion to keep her consignors/customers happy. “These pieces are special to them,” she says. “I want to honor that. I rarely mark anything down, and if I do, I check with the consignor first.”
This week, a shopper came by and picked up a pair of brand-new Ferragamo heels for $110. “How much are these?” the customer asked. When Coleman told her, the woman said it was a bit more than she wanted to spend. Coleman politely smiled and told the woman that if she made an offer, she’d get in touch with the consignor to see if the price is okay.
When a customer makes an offer close to the list price, Coleman will say, “You know what, I’ll just take a bit off my commission.” The customer is happy with her new designer shoes and she is thrilled for her to have them.
Serendipitous relationships have helped Coleman realize her dream. She loves “the find” and is passionate about sharing it with others. Her selections are not ones you’ll find at a run-of-the-mill consignment store.
Sweet Preserves is located at 543 Main Street. Call 844-0328 or email amy.sweetpreserves@ yahoo.com.