The weekend’s here, and I want to take the time to reflect on the week I just had, mainly 3 days I was able to spend in Sannibel Island with my friends from Chico’s.
I had the opportunity to go to the spot in Florida where Chico’s was conceived by Marvin and Helene Galnick and hear the story of how it all started 35 years ago. The year was 1983. This particular year is sweet to me in and of its self, because it’s the year my first child was born, my daughter Jessica.
I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to work with a brand that wants to hear what I have to say and what I think about them. Not only do they want to hear about the things I think they are doing right and what they might be able to improve upon, but they wanted to know what 10 other influencers thought as well.
It all began on Tuesday, as I flew into Fort Myers, Florida. The sky was a little overcast, but no worries I was happy to be going to the beach. I was picked up and taken to the lovely Pink Shells Resort and Marina, where I couldn’t decide when I was leaving whether the view from the front door or the one off the Lanai had been the best. Both were stunning in their own right. There I settled in and hurried to get dressed and down to the beach where there was a lovely reception already under way. What a view, as I stepped out onto the beach. The sand looked so white as the sun shone bright on it. What a nice set up they had for us with a full bar, cheeses, fruits, vegetables and chicken on a skewer.
It was so nice to see some familiar friends and then meet some new ladies. As the sun went down, they had a photographer there to take some sunset photos of us all individually and as a group.
The next day it was up early to meet at 8:15am in the lobby. I never sleep well when I’m out of town. I’m always worried I’m going to oversleep and be late. This morning was no exception, so I was up at 5am, which was a great thing now that I’m looking back, because I was able to watch the sunrise out the front door. Then I ran to the back of my room on the lanai as the sun was up on the ocean. It never gets old for me to watch, and it’s a great way to start the day.
We all met in the lobby and were quite surprised as a trolley bus pulled up to take us the Chico’s corporate offices. We were given a tour of their offices where concepts begin and the process unfolds. It was so interesting to see one of their in-house artists watercolor painting a cheetah. The spots, the head, the body, and for those of you who don’t know animal print is on trend for fall. Are you jumping up and down yet? I sure was!
Next we moved on to where each is garment prototype is fit on an actual model. It was most interesting to me that research shows the average woman my age wears a size 8-10. It gives me a better understanding of why so many things fit the way they do on me. For me I’m not a petite size, and I do have a difficult time with sizes and fit with brands. It’s not a complaint, it’s a fact that most think they are the only ones that have problems. I’m here to tell you I do too. My struggle may not be the same, but you’re not alone.
We sat through a lovely brunch with Diane Ellis, Brand President of Chico’s and Shelagh Stoneham, Sr. Vice President of Marketing and even had Shelley Broader, CEO, stop by to thank us for our visit and input. Chico’s wanted to know about the size issues and those struggles from all of us women. That was what was so cool, we sat there, women of all shapes and sizes, and talked about what we would like to see in the industry. And they listened and cared. They truly want to make a better product as well as shopping experience with their brand for all consumers that shop Chico’s.
After brunch we hopped on the trolley and headed to the very first Chico’s. I know I mentioned above how Chico’s is celebrating their 35th Anniversary this year, so it was fun to see where it all started. It was fascinating to see the store as well as a lot of the original fixtures. There was a picture of Marvin and Helene Galnick and a picture of a parrot whose name was Chico. Yes, you’ve got it – the store was named after a bird.
That evening we had dinner in a ballroom at the Pink Shell Resort and then were treated to a sunset cruise with live steel drum playing on the boat. As we headed out to see the sunset, we were accompanied by a pair of dolphins on the bow of the boat. I have to say this was exciting. I know I probably sound like a kid, but I’ve always wanted to swim with dolphins. (Flipper was one of my favorite shows growing up.)
It was a wonderful end to the day and also to such a great visit. I know everyone on this trip genuinely appreciated the hospitality and sense of family that Chico’s was able to create in this setting. I know I am honored and excited to be a part of group of women and a brand which wants to make fashion and style fun and easy for all ages.