White House Black Market Creator Opens New Store
Rick Sarmiento is back with sister stores designed to allow mother and daughter to shop together side-by-side.
The creator of White House Black Market is back with a new business venture, and Rick Sarmiento has returned to Maryland to launch it.
The stores are separate, but connected inside with the intention of creating a space where women of different ages can shop together. And unlike White House Black Market, the stores are bursting with color.
Annapolis Patch had the opportunity to sit down with Sarmiento and ask him a few questions about his new stores.
Annapolis Patch: The unique feature of these stores is that they are separate but connected. What made you want to do that?
Rick Sarmiento: They're side-by-side so it's almost like it's one space, but there is a clear distinction between the two with a crossover. Not unlike what we did with White House Black Market, and I found when I had that company it really made the store much more productive in giving our shoppers a much wider range of choices.
Where at White House Black Market that divide is color oriented, here it will be a age oriented or even a little bit more style oriented. I still think there will be a lot of crossover. You may have 40-year-old woman who wants a slightly lower waist on her jeans. Or a really cool jean jacket along with a more traditional dress.
Annapolis Patch: So you can bring merchandise back and forth?
Sarmiento: If you pick up something from one store and carry it over to the other, we can check you out in either store.
Annapolis Patch: Let's talk about the store names. How did you come up with the name "Blink Blanco?"
Sarmiento: It's a combination of blue and pink for "Blink" and then "Blanco" for white in Spanish. The store has kind of a Latin feel, slightly bold.
Annapolis Patch: Who is Blink Blanco's target customer?
Sarmiento: It’s for a slightly older woman, and I say that very carefully. We are going to be capturing a woman who is in her 40s who, for example, may want to have something she can wear to work and then she can still step out in the evening and be appropriate for a more social setting. Work to social garb that is going to be contemporary, bold, fashion forward, but not so crazy that a woman would feel inappropriate.
Annapolis Patch: Now what about its sister store Angst? How did you come up with that name?
Sarmiento: It started out as a couple of ideas I’ve been kicking around my head for some time. One was based on my two daughters kinda overwhelming angst about they are going to wear. They're teenagers, and they are constantly worrying about who is going to wear that, and how do I look?
I thought it would be fun to do a store where you kinda do the opposite. Where a young woman, a young girl can come into our store and leave feeling good about herself. Kind of our motto, at least in my head, became create the angst instead of feeling the angst; let them worry about what your wearing.
Annapolis Patch: How are the stores in terms of price?
Sarmiento: I'm calling the store "popularly priced." I think we are going to be very competitive with the mainstream competition.
On the Angst side, you know there is certainly Urban Outfitters to Forever 21 to even some of the other ones like Madewell. We are priced somewhere is the middle there.
As far as on the Blink Blanco side, I think the typical blouse or dress is going to be from $49 to $79. We're going to try and keep the denim to around $100.
Initially when we open we will be doing a lot of brands, but as we move into fall and next spring we will be transitioning rapidly to all private label and/or our own design.
Annapolis Patch: You sold White House Black Market to Chico's in 2003, what made you decide that now was the time to start a new venture?
Sarmiento: It’s time for something new. The recession is an issue; I think there is pent up demand. We are going to address that frugality in terms of our pricing, but people are tired. They want to start having some fun again. It’s a very sexy time right now. We’re kind of playing into that. You’re going to be sexy but appropriately so.
Annapolis Patch: Do you have any plans to expand into other areas like Annapolis?
Sarmiento: I'd say within another three or four months, I'd say we will be actively pursuing another store. Annapolis is certainly a market I would love to be in. I love Annapolis. I think our store would be very well received here.