Cary Jackson says the worst moment of her professional life arrived when she had to write a person note to her boss, bridal designer, Vera Wang, telling her sales were down. Wang, a perfectionist, is known as a very demanding boss. Jackson, who is a wholesale director for the designer, said she doesn’t like to get on Wangs bad side.
“I never want to let Vera down,” she said. Jaskson said she sells clothes to department stores and Vera Wang boutiques around the world. Jackson has been working with Vera Wang for more then four years and said she loves her job“I tell the department stores what ensembles look good together,” she said. Jackson regularly puts together a budget to see what the estimated order should be, and she tries to meet that goal.
“I use two or three models who come out in the clothing, and that’s a big selling tool for me,” she said. Jackson said the best part of her job is traveling to Paris. “I travel from market to Paris four times a year, and I go there to sell to international stores,” she said “European fashion is beautiful and one of a kind, nothing like American fashion. I wish everyone could get a chance to go over and see it,” Jackson said. Her goal is to get the Vera Wang line in department stores in Europe and to bring the American designer overseas.
Although Vera has a very high end label, Jackson’s assistant, Jessica, who declined to give her last name, said it’s very much a mom and pop company. “It’s fully owned by Vera and her husband,” Jessica said, “They make all the decisions.” Jessica said the business relieS on personal relations and image for the Wangs. “Sales are secondary for them,” she said. “Her goal is to be as big of a household name as say, Ralph Lauren,” Jessica said.
Jackson is the mother of two children and wife to Tom Jackson, who is a hedgefund manager on Wall Street. They have been married for five years and met at a social club in New York.
Jackson and her family lives in New York on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.
Her husband was born and reared in Chicago, and her cousin has recently moved here. She said they really enjoy com
ing back to see their family members over the holidays. “It’s always nice coming home for the holidays. It’s a good chance for our kids to play with their cousins since we don’t have a lot of family in New York,” she said.
Jackson said the store here on Michigan Avenue caters to a Jewish clientele. “They tend to be in our core market since that branch is in the Gold Coast,” she said. She said the clientele here is from a larger area than in New York. “Everything in New York is so compact. Everything is in Manhattan.” “It’s easier to understand the customer base who come into our Chicago store since we’re only in one location. We’re more personal and in touch with customers,” she said.
The Vera Wang store in Chicago is located at 34 E Oak St., second floor, and focuses on bridal apparel. “When I think of Vera I think of wedding gowns,” said Jackie Disano, a Gold Coast resident and shopper at the Vera Wang store. “Her line is very feminine and romantic,” she said. Disano said Vera’s styles are very high end; she compares her designs to Prada. “If I were going to a black-tie event, I would buy a gown from her.”
Jessi Sheehan is the bridal and marketing director at the Vera Wang store in Chicago. Sheehan graduated from Indiana University in 2008 with a degree in apparel merchandising. She said the recent recession has not affected the sales of the store. “We haven’t had any loss, but I’ve seen clients lower their budgets,” she said. “When a bride comes here they know what to expect, they know what our budget is.” Sheehan said about the brand is bought by mostly upper class peoplE.
“We exceed everyone’s expectations and we’re known for customer service,” she said. Sheehan said with a smile that brides want their wedding day to be perfect and if it’s not they’ll come to the store and hunt down the person who sold them the wrong dress, but said they’ve always are above bride satisfactions. Sheehan was sitting with her bridal team on the 4th floor of the Oak Street store on a recent day. Heidi Kotilinek said she was an intern over the summer at Vera Wang bridal and later was offered a job.
She said her favorite part of her job is planning events. She said she can’t wait until the Vera fashion show in February. “This will be my first year with the show! I’m really excited for it,” she said.
Sheehan and Kotilinek agreed that when brides come to their store they always find what they’re looking for. “We have the best. When brides come they buy a dress on the first visit because they know they won’t find anything like what we have anywhere else,” Sheehan said.
Kotilinek said her favorite moment IS seeing the brides’ faces when they find their wedding dress. “I never get sick of it. Each bride has her own story. I love hearing about how her fiance proposed and the plans for the wedding,” she said.
One of the members of Sheehan’s bridal team is engaged and said she’s most definitely buying her dress from Vera and has a good idea of what she wants.
Sheehan said the weekends are always busy. “We get about 20 to 30 brides a day on the weekends, and they each get two hours with a consultant,” she said. The team agreed that 90 per cent of the brides who shop at the store are looking for their first wedding dress and that 60 per cent of their clients don’t live in Illinois. “We offer Skype so that the bride and her family can see the dresses before theY come into the store, or if the family is not with the bride she can try the dress on and show them over Skype,” Sheehan said.
She said employees from the New York headquarters travel frequently to the Chicago store because they want to make sure Chicago is capturing Vera’s vision too. The team said their goal is to make dreams a reality.