Wimer is effortlessly enthusiastic about fashion and her role as a business leader, owning the online-based Western chic boutique Savannah Sevens which she began in 2013.
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Whether Wimer is out in the cow pasture tending the herd with her rancher husband, taking care of her young children or behind the helm of a successful e-commerce site, she proves you can do it all. And it was that same versatile sentiment behind the wardrobe offerings at Savannah Sevens.
We were eager to hear Wimer’s take on fashion and today’s digital market, as well as how she navigated the turmoil of the past year while looking ahead.
2020 was a crazy year – what does your 2021 business outlook look like?
Like anybody  had its ups and downs, and it was kind of a rollercoaster there in the beginning. March and April were a little crazy, but we got through that. In some ways it was an uphill battle and in other ways it kind of propelled us in more growth than we had even really planned for through the year so we're very blessed and grateful for having our online presence and not having a brick and mortar. So of all times I've been very grateful, last year even more so, for being online. At the end of the year, we came out ahead [rather] than behind, and so we're very fortunate in that. So it definitely has just made us focus on how we can offer a better online experience for a customer that can't come shop in person. This year it seems that we’re busier than any year before so far the way 2021 has kicked off.
Did you face any challenges during the 2020 push for digital presence?
I don't think it changed. I think the same challenges that we face every year of, ‘you have to continue to find the best way to get in front of your customer and stay there,’ and with algorithms and everything else always changing, it's this constant, ‘keep your head above water and try to figure out what the new is,’ and as soon as you tackle one thing and are doing it well, it's evolved in a new way. So I think the same challenges that everyone faced with being online last year is something that we kind of always face.
I think our biggest issue for last year was really having enough inventory, especially in the middle of the year, and really even still, currently. Something that we're facing is, we're not manufacturers. Wholesalers aren't able to produce the new styles like what you'd hope to find, and we ran short in summer of not having enough inventory. A lot of what we had booked for spring and summer just didn't get produced, because of everything obviously related to COVID, and so we were going to market in June and not buying fall and winter, we were buying more summer, because we didn't have enough to get us through. That was more of the challenges that I felt like we faced related to COVID. Really I guess it's just having the product and the new styles coming in at a fast enough rate to meet the demands of our customer, more so than that struggle of our presence online. We had hoped that that was the last of it, and when we went in fall it was really interesting.
It was tough with having so many markets canceled and having to find everything pretty much at one market, and what was really scary was, I want to say there was probably really just a handful of companies that we bought from that had the bulk of providing the majority of our fall and winter inventory that had new styles. It seemed like all the other brands, they weren't able to produce new styles. They were bringing back kind of old styles sadly, because that's all that they had. And so we got through fall, and I really thought that was going to be the worst of it. I thought, ‘okay, every brand [is] going to be in full production, and everything is moving.’ When we got to market come January that was not the case again. It was probably, in my opinion for looking for spring and summer, worse than what fall was. I don't know if that's how everyone's feeling, but we have had to scramble really hard to try to find brands that are producing new styles just because of the delays with manufacturing.
How have your digital strategies changed throughout the last year?
People are at home and on their phones and watching video more and more than they ever have, and I think that your presence in doing that is definitely rewarded on social media, and the exposure that you get for doing that is huge. That is something that we are not necessarily investing in like we should be. We know that. It is something that definitely requires a lot of time to create that content. Instead of going the route of quick Reels and Tik Tok and like just a lot of content that you're producing quickly and multiple times, something that had been on our list to do for some time was to create a video series just showing the backstory of Savannah Sevens. We finally made that come to fruition this fall and recorded a video of where we started and where we've come from, moving over into a new building and everything that has went into creating Savannah Sevens. I was so excited to share that with everyone in January, the Savannah Sevens story. I felt like that's video content that can last for a very long time and doesn't have an expiration date, and we're going to continue to do more of those series that I'm really excited about and do that every year a couple times a year. That's not necessarily what everyone else is doing, you know everyone's doing those quick videos, and its lifespan is very short, and it’s on to the next one and [is] something that I know we need to be doing but we just haven't tackled that yet.
People are at home and on their phones and watching video more and more than they ever have, and I think that your presence in doing that is definitely rewarded on social media, and the exposure that you get for doing that is huge.
What is your best tip for online growth/engaging with your audience?
I've always heard, ‘don't put all your eggs in one basket.’ Don't be trying to reach your customer with only one platform, and that is so true. You need to be able to provide a different experience and added benefit at each one of those different things. If you provide the same content and the same benefits on each platform, you're giving someone no reason to follow you on all those different places. I think that's what we're always working to evolve in, offering more and a better experience for our customer. The day that Instagram dries up or something would happen to your Instagram account, do you have other ways of reaching your customer? I think that's huge, and that's always been our motivator in trying to offer a variety of experiences for our customer.
Did you attend WESA market in Dallas? If so, what styles did you see and love?
WESA was great. I went every year in
January to Denver since I started my business, and there was so much added benefit of going to that show once a year. With it moving to Dallas it was a really interesting experience. I loved it.
I felt like I got the opportunity to not only go to Dallas like I normally would for their apparel market and see everyone there, but then I just felt like I got introduced to a lot more with a lot higher quantity of Western brands than I would have in Denver just because of the time that I spent there was limited in the past, and so having them combined was great for me. The only downside for me was I typically would go t
o Vegas as well. Since that market was canceled I was trying to essentially do eight days of shows in four days when I went to Dallas if you combine Denver WESA in the past, Dallas Market and Vegas, and it was really more than you could tackle in one market. So that was truly a challenge there, but I really did enjoy having them combined this year. It was a really good experience for us.
I'm always excited for fall and winter. I'm huge on outerwear and layering and just everything that comes with that, so a lot of great things coming in from the Pendleton line in winter. That was all great. It's interesting for spring and summer. You're still heavily themed lounge and casual just because of the times we're in right now, and it's really intriguing to see how much fashion has essentially kind of changed or taken a slight pause on the dressy side of things, just because of what we're going through right now. While there's still some of that I feel like I see more of your dressy styles and things coming back heavily in the fall, whereas, it seems still a lot of casual is really popular right now for what's available for new styles.
Are you traveling for any trade shows in 2021? If so, what is your outlook?
We went to another market that they had a pop up in Orlando in February and were able to continue our buying of what we still needed for spring and summer. It's been a lot of years since we've went to trade shows and things of that sort. And so we really don't have anything on our radar for this year. It seems like so much is kind of up in the air still with rodeos. We do sometimes like to have special events, or a presence at those even if we don't have a shopping experience or booth there, but it seems like a lot of that's still up in the air right now. That's about it for right now, just markets again in the fall.
Are you expecting to see a return to in-person shopping this year?
I hope the in-store shopping comes back when so many of the restrictions kind of lift, and people are out and about so much more. I'll always want to see that. For us not having a brick and mortar store then we won't see that, obviously, but for others I think it'll return somewhat. But, you know, they say it only takes six weeks to create a habit, and if you're going on a year and a half of people not having the option to go out and shop, I feel like [what] people's norm was for shopping may not fully return. People have been forced to shop online even if they didn't previously like to, and so I think that it's going to stay that way. There’s going to be that increased demand of shopping online that wasn't a year ago.
Tell us about your brand/store style – what does style mean to you?When I started my thoughts behind the collection that would be offered at Savannah Sevens was something that you could wear to work [and] the weekend, whether it was on the ranch or riding horses or entering a rodeo. I felt like there was a lack of someplace you can shop that really merged all of those things, that lifestyle that our customer lives. We want to cater to all of those things. We've worked really hard to create a collection of items that you don't see everywhere, that's not on repeat, and are unique and you can look at a piece and say, ‘that looks like it came from Savannah Sevens.’ That's what we've worked really hard to create and maintain. A lot of styles that we carry, we have in mind that this is something that can stay in your closet for quite some time, and it's not going to be so trendy that it's one and done. You wear it once or twice, and it's over with. So I think that's what a lot of our customers find with our pieces, our accessories, and even our clothing. We don't jump on a lot of wild trends or crazy patterns that you get tired of quickly, so that's kind of what has created our collection.
People have been forced to shop online even if they didn't previously like to, and so I think that it's going to stay that way. There’s going to be that increased demand of shopping online that wasn't a year ago.
Give us your best style tip!
Personally, I'm someone that always has invested in good denim, a few good pairs of footwear that really can be worn with lots of different looks and dressed up or down, and the same applies for the accessories- something that is quality enough that's going to last you years and years. Then that leads me to why you'll see that we carry so many solids, is that you can style it many different ways and also dress them up or down. It makes it where you can create lots of different outfits with one top that are solids or just have that unique detail that doesn't go out of style.
This interview is part of an ongoing series that W&E is conducting with retailers. Click here to peruse more stories and interviews from the retail industry.