Q&A with Maria DiLeonardo, president & key buyer
Number of stores: 1
Square footage: approx 2,300
Year opened: 2002
Ted Vayos, BODY: Describe your store.
Maria: Siren is a visual smorgasbord! Our goal is to create an entire sensory experience for people when they come into our store. It’s not just about shopping - it’s about the visual experience - the sights, the smells, and the feelings we can evoke. From the bare brick and stone walls to the tibetan antique furniture and eclectic decor, we try to create a magical environment for our customers. We also love fragrance, and always have candles burning - we love it when people walk in and say "it smells SO good in here!" Our products include jewelry, handbags, belts, women’s clothing, shoes, fragrances, candles, lingerie, a complete bridal section, and we’ve recently added a home and gift area including books, and interesting home accessories and decor. We have everything from Anais Nin books to couture bridal gowns. We are a lifestyle store.
Ted: What makes your store special?
Maria: We are magical! The most important thing about the store though is our relationship with our clients above the sales. Honesty and integrity are what set us apart - especially in these trying economic times. Our clients know we will not send them out in anything we wouldn’t wear ourselves - we never lie to them to make a sale - never. We are also known for our windows - people come by deliberately to see the new displays, because they are usually painstakingly handmade and are more like art installations than retail store windows.
Ted: What do you look for in a brand?
Maria: One of our goals is to carry brands that you don’t find in department stores or other local boutiques. We strive to be truly unique with our product choice. We have dropped lines for becoming too common, such as BCBG, Laundry and Three Dot. We are strongly influenced by European fashion, as American fashion has been watered down and neutered for some time. We try to push our clients to think a little outside of the box - "safe" is not a word that makes us happy! One brand we love is Karina Grimaldi - we started carrying her when she first launched her line and we are happy to see her grow. We have a new line called Launch, which is the brainchild of local designer Susan Young. She has impeccable taste and definitely more of a European aesthetic, which we appreciate. We’ve recently picked up the Playful Promises line because we like their tongue-in-cheek approach to lingerie - their pieces are fun and you can tell they’re British! (We love the Brits - including our corsets from Jane Woolrich!) Another brand we love and sell endlessly both in the store and on our website is Melissa Shoes. We started carrying them when they were not known at all in the area, and were only carried by us and Saks in NYC. They are truly an international product and we love carrying them.
Ted: Describe popular styles or trends in your store.
Maria: We avoid trends that promise to be short-lived, and lean more toward classic chic pieces. We’d like to be able to pull a garment out of the closet one year, 5 years, 10 years from now and feel just as great about it as the day we first bought it. We are known for our accessories and broad range of jewelry, and we dabble in trends a bit more with the jewelry because it is an inexpensive and easy way to update a look.
Ted: Describe your price points and size ranges.
Maria: From a $16 earring to a $6800 pink mink jacket - we cover the gamut. We never want people to come in and feel like they can’t afford anything. Much of our jewelry is under $30 with the exception of the designer pieces, and we have something for everyone. Our size range is 0 - 16 or Extra Small through Extra Large. Shoe sizes range from 5 to 11.
Ted: What is your average customer size?
Maria: The most common range is between 2 and 6. The women tend not to eat in this area. Which we do not condone.
Ted: What does the average customer spend per visit to your store?
Maria: Between $60 and $120.
Ted: Describe your customer base.
Maria: We are asked this constantly - who is Siren’s customer? We have women from 16 years old to 76 years old and everything in between. We do big business at prom season and wedding season, but we are as popular for mothers of the bride/groom and bar/bat mitzvah moms. Lots of visits from daughters with their mothers and grandmothers. We are hoping to expand into a bigger selection for men as well.
Ted: What other information would you like to share?
Maria: We are constantly looking for ways to evolve. I opened in 2002 as a single store front and we expanded in 2007 into the neighboring storefront. In 2009 our website was launched, and currently we are looking into creating our own jewelry and clothing lines. It is a learning process, and we believe in always looking for ways to grow and stay interested and interesting. Staying mindful of our clients’ perspective, we like to imagine our space as a place that you enter and forget where in the world you - you could be in the Hamptons, in Soho, or some little side street in London. The whole experience is what’s important for us. Come in and get lost!