This week our
continues in a discussion with bag maven from NYC with an affinity for leather and totes. In this series we introduce those in the menswear industry who are defining and redefining their craft. Tailors, entrepreneurs, manufacturers, designers and the like. Today we introduce you to roztayger.
Image Granted -
What is your title/trade/profession? How did you get into the retail/wholesale industry? What about your work gets you out of bed every morning?
Elizabeth Jeffer -
My name is Elizabeth Jeffer. I am the founder and curator of roztayger - an online luxury site for bags and accessories. I have been in the accessories industry for over 20 years now. I studied art history at UCB but as soon as I graduated I wanted to apply my love of beauty and symmetry to the design/retail world - I worked in specialty boutiques in Berkeley and SF for some time, intended to open my own store but got side tracked by "knowing too much" and talking myself out of it. I then decided to represent small up and coming designers of bags, hats, etc. Prior to roztayger I had been a rep for accessory designers in both SF and NY for nearly 15 years.
What gets me out of bed is my endless to do list which includes getting my kids on the bus so I can work like crazy until they come home. While it is a lot of work its exciting to finally be executing my own vision of what I feel are excellent products and designs with integrity. As a rep I was always able to guide buyers and predict what would be the best sellers....so now I do that on my own by editing and amassing a new "roztayger" collection of what I feel are the best of the best from a pool of talented International designers.
Where did the idea of roztayger come about? We understand you have a long history of directing showrooms and a love for fashion but it seems roztayger is a labor of love. How much truth is there to this?
roztayger is basically a made up word that pays homage to my late Grandmother Rosalind Tiger Jeffer (pronounced Tayger in Lithuania where her family is from) I wanted a word that had a great cadence, no specific meaning or connotation to anyone else so that I could shape the direction of the site in a variety of ways – Grandma Roz was a very important person in my life – someone I looked up to – always very kind, generous, unpretentious, loving – she supported the arts and women’s causes and loved style but never made it out to be more than it was. She was very low key – she spent money and always looked stylish but she never tried to call attention to it or to herself personally. She enjoyed it but she was always focused on making sure everyone was happy. In short she was an inspiration to me across the board so it made sense.
roztayger is most definitely a labor of love. I am sure there are easier ways to make money but design and quality product is a passion of mine and I love hearing the stories of the people behind the brand as well as getting to know the clients I sell to. The internet makes that more challenging especially on the client side but I make it a point to reach out to people that have shopped with me and follow up so that I can possibly get to know them a bit, service them better etc. That's what really makes my day..building trust, introducing people to designers that may not have heard of before - surprising them and making their life perhaps more enjoyable and/or aesthetically pleasing if even in some small way.
We originally met through our mutual connection at UK brand HYPE luggage. How did you relationships come about with HYPE? How did you chose the product you stock at roztayger?
I believe Paul of Hype reached out to me and was very persistent in getting me to look at his product. I actually did not see it in person before I bought it but I could tell from talking to him at length on the phone how passionate and dedicated he was about his product - how every small detail mattered. I immediately believed in him and trusted him. When I received the product I was blown away at the quality....these are pieces you have for decades if not a lifetime.
Timeless, classic with that touch of edge which keeps it interesting. That's what I look for when searching out new product. I try to find unusual products that are not overly distributed. Luckily I am drawn to products that already have that philosophy in place...I am pretty firmly against any logos unless they are done in a very subtle way. I think of my clients as not necessarily wanting the rest of the world to know they paid X amount for a bag...they want something subtle, but still unique that you won't see everyone else in your office or neighborhood carrying. They want to have something distinct but not overtly loud or attention grabbing.
What makes a great bag in your opinion? What is it about a carry on, holdall, tote, or attache that excites you? How is this excitement displayed in your product and/or service?
Well a great bag starts with beautiful materials inside and out....good construction with only the minimal hardware necessary. A beautiful, pleasing shape that is well proportioned. A great bag feels good in your hand or over your shoulder. You want to pet a great bag often. What excites me is seeing interesting, unexpected details like a offbeat color that is way off the primary chart and is coupled with a beautiful lining. A bag that is linear, pared down and maybe has a contrasted stitch that you might not see at first but that you discover as you explore the bag. The little details are important. The feel is important and then of course it has to work for you pockets wise, comfort wise....setting wise (work, play or travel)
I think you can sense my excitement when I talk about beautiful product. Each piece on roztayger I have thoroughly vetted and picked myself so I am truly a believer in all the items you see on the site. I try to convey that through the product descriptions and the "about the designer" story plus the lifestyle shots I have been working on.
I am always very pleased if a customer calls me on my business line and I can personally talk to them about the product. It doesn't happen as much as I like but I really enjoy this so I am hoping more people will pick up the phone and call. I am happy to elaborate and provide excellent customer service any way. For me talking directly to the client is what its all about. Making connections, building rapport and working together to make a product fit.
How do you attract, attain and retain customers? Who is the roztayger customer? What do they read? Where do they travel?
I try to blog as often as possible and also utilize social media via Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram - all the usual suspects. I work with an excellent freelance PR person who is incredibly smart, savvy and articulate and really understands this market so that is incredibly useful in outreach and I trust he understands the product, the market and the end client we are hoping to connect with. Bloggers like yourself are incredibly helpful as they have their following of people that trust them and by association I am able to build credibility. I retain customers by following up after every purchase in most cases and I make sure they are happy with their product.
I see the roztayger customer as men and women who work and/or have kids...they are 25-65. They have busy, productive lives and are well educated, well-travelled and they love good design. I don't see them spending a lot of time shopping. They may look around but they are busy so they want to find what they want, get it and go. Many of my clients are in creative industries: architects, graphics designers, artists, photographers - but also lawyers and professors, teachers. They are educated so whatever they are reading its definitely not fluff - they have a point of view. I don't see them as followers.
What's next for roztayger?
For Fall I am going to expand a bit and create a travel accessories area. For men I will add Japanese tshirts from Vroom as well as Italian cashmere scarves from
- classical articles for travel. We are all on the move these days so my feeling is buy less, buy better quality and buy versatile. It makes packing easy and it makes the life and/or the trip less stressful when that one scarf goes with everything you brought or that one tshirt style works with all your pants and you have it in three colors. Edit and simplify. That's my philosophy.