Cathie Anderson

Sacramento designers leverage TV, social media to find their market

The cherry-colored PoppyClip ties the scarf together with the blouse.
The cherry-colored PoppyClip ties the scarf together with the blouse.

Accessory designers Cristina Westley-Sanchez and Jessica Tindel vividly remember their first television interview about their then-new product, PoppyClips, because sales soared to $1,200 that day.

That was 3 1/2 years ago, and $1,200 today represents a run-of-the-mill sales day for PoppyClips, Westley-Sanchez said. She came up with the idea for PoppyClips after Tindel told her about a problem she was having.

“We were having dinner one night, and Jessica mentioned something about her daughter’s sleeves being long and how she wished she could think of a way to keep them up,” Westley-Sanchez said. “It was really one of those light-bulb moments. I really just thought, ‘You know what you could do? You could take magnets and put them on the ends of a strip of fabric.’ 

Later, Westley-Sanchez borrowed her mom’s sewing machine and created a rudimentary prototype, a thin strip of cloth with magnets on each end, strong enough to cling together through fabric. While the craftsmanship of the product has vastly improved, the design remains the same.

PoppyClips will cinch sleeves, shirt tails, pants and more, and they keep the fabric raised. The women introduced PoppyClips for boots in November 2014 to allow women to inject a pop of color into their footwear.

They have steadily grown revenue for their Sacramento-based company by adopting new marketing techniques and adapting their product. They initially set up a Facebook page and invited friends and family. Then came an interview on “Good Day, Sacramento,” and after that, Westley-Sanchez started experimenting with Instagram.

At the urging of Tindel, she posted a photo every day showing off PoppyClip styling ideas at the site and grew PoppyClips’ following to almost 22,000. Within a week of the Instagram debut of PoppyClips for boots, a buyer from Von Maur department stores called them to discuss a test order for 11 of nearly 30 stores. The test went so well that PoppyClips quickly found a home in all the stores.

PoppyClips also sell at Katia’s Collections in Sacramento and at Rire Boutique stores in Sacramento and Davis. They’re also available online at www.poppyclips.com.

This year, Tindel and Westley-Sanchez saw another sales avenue open when an independent fashion consultant posted pictures of how she’d used PoppyClips to style clothing by LuLaRoe.

“LuLaRoe sells their line of clothing through consultants, and it fits women of all sizes,” Westley-Sanchez said. “PoppyClips can step in and change the look or the fit of many of their styles. Earlier this year, we went viral in the LuLaRoe community after someone posted a picture of PoppyClips on an item of their clothing.”

A French connection: Vintner David Girard was surprised to get a letter from a Parisian leader asking to buy his wine, but it just sat beneath sales circulars for solar panels and bills for the Placerville vineyard that bears his name.

In the letter, David said, Christophe Girard wrote something like: “I was on a plane going from Paris to Shanghai, and I came upon your vineyard, and I’d like to order some wine for Christmas. Would you send me some?”

David Girard Vineyards isn’t licensed to sell wine in France, he told me, so he shipped three bottles as a gift to Girard, who leads Paris’ fourth district, or arrondissement. Then he called me: “Sending wine to Paris, Cathie? Isn’t that a little like sending coal to Newcastle?”

That British idiom is a way of describing a pointless action, as Newcastle represented the heart of England’s coal production.

Christophe Girard, a longtime executive in the fashion industry as well as a politician, told David that he has a son, also named David, and that he plans to surprise him with a bottle of the wine on Christmas.

About a year ago, David Girard Vineyards began offering tastings by appointment only at 741 Cold Springs Road in Placerville. The wine is also sold through retailers such as BevMo and Nugget Markets and in restaurants such as The Trident in Sausalito and Grange Restaurant & Bar in Sacramento’s Citizen Hotel.

Cathie Anderson: 916-321-1193, @CathieA_SacBee

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