“From inception, we have always approached this venture as a business. The Gatsby brand has been built on a foundation of tried and tested systems, policies and procedures. Our tailor-made business model and internal structuring have contributed to the survival and longevity of the business. The retail sector is heavily reliant on but complements the tourism industry. In order to survive, businesses must be able to deal with and adapt to changes in the tourism industry in general and the economy as a whole.”
On entering any of the Gatsby five locations which all bear the common stamp of Dawn Pionkowski’s impeccable interior design (Karen’s sister), it is immediately clear that a tremendous amount of effort has been spent on creating a welcoming environment which is conducive to shopping. Clients are warmly greeted by staff who are stylishly attired in the Gatsby corporate uniforms which have been specifically designed with a fashion edge. The range of merchandise carried by the stores has now expanded to encompass both men and women’s designer fashion, from clothing, to accessories, to jewelry, to footwear, for every occasion at varying price points.
The majority of Gatsby’s clientele are tourists, and, given the location of the stores, sales are heavily reliant on the tourist traffic. However, most of their clients are repeat visitors and customers whose holiday would not be complete without a visit (or two) to one of the Gatsby Boutiques. I asked Karen why she thought Gatsby had become so adept in attracting clients from Europe, the US and Canada who chose not to shop in their home countries, but here. She said:
“We are meticulous in choosing our stock, ensuring that we align ourselves with high-quality, high-fashion brands that consistently deliver exquisite merchandise. Because we are a multi-brand retail store, we are able to cater to a wider range of clientele who come in search of the latest in fashion at the best price without compromising on quality.”
Karen has overall responsibility for the back-of-house operations of Gatsby, which also includes purchasing. The stores have buying offices located in London and New York which source fashion lines that enhance Gatsby’s unique brand of Caribbean chic. With her daughter Gaël Hopkin, the boutiques’ Operations Manager, many hours are spent buying which involves racing from private viewings, to runway shows, to client previews, where they both take a hands-on approach in selecting the merchandise.
Retailers provide a linkage between the manufacturer and the consumer. Over the years, the leading ladies of Gatsby have forged relationships with some of the world’s most luxurious brands. The boutiques’ shelves are stocked with beautifully tailored pieces by Roberto Cavalli, Versace, ETRO, Robert Graham (Limited Edition Collection) and Jean Paul Gaultier, to mention a few. Alexis Bittar, Ciner, Angelique de Paris and Echo the Dreamer provide bespoke, one-of a kind pieces of jewelry made exclusively for Gatsby. With stores located just steps away from some of the island’s best beaches, they also carry swimwear by Zeki, Norma Kamali and Roidal complemented with the famous Eric Javits and Helen Kaminski hats . And yes, they also stock fabulous shoes from Giuseppe Zenotti, Sophia Webster and Stuart Weitzman.
Without a doubt, Gatsby is the must-have shopping experience in Barbados! Come experience the style…