Friday, May 11, 2012

Style: My Life as a Betsey Johnson Intern & Her Going-Out-Of-Business Sale!

As you may have read recently in the news, my former employer Betsey Johnson has filed for bankruptcy. They just announced today via their mailing list that they will be closing all retail stores and are offering 20-50% off ALL of their items online and in the stores. Similar discounts will also be available at the outlet stores [note: there's one at Woodbury Common Premium Outlets in Central Valley, NY]. 

While working as a Social Media Marketing Intern at Betsey Johnson in the Spring of 2010, I was able to get a good look into the creative process at the fashion house - large white boards with monthly titles at the top were always lying around showing designs and fabric swatches for the upcoming collections. I was always amazed how far in advance all of these collections had to be planned! There were also lidded plastic bins and clothing racks all over the place just filled with vintage clothing (some vintage Betsey, others collected from vintage shops / her closet) which often inspired her transient teams of young Design Assistants, fresh out of schools like Parsons and SCAD. Her Personal Assistant, Stephanie, was also one of her favorite models so she was also often seen walking around the office wearing one of Betsey's latest creations.

Betsey Johnson was my first job in the fashion industry and it opened my eyes to an interesting world. For starters, Betsey Johnson's name seemed to be EVERYWHERE when I was in grade school - from retail stores on Madison Avenue to large department stores like Bloomingdale's to the bargain racks of TJ Maxx. No matter your price range, there was always some Betsey Johnson product you'd come across while shopping. They were also very popular picks for Bar Mitzvahs, Sweet Sixteens, and Junior Proms. Heck, I even wore one of her dresses to my Sophomore Formal in college! When I started working at her corporate office the thing that hit me first was how small this "headquarters" of such an internationally well-known designer actually was. The company did not take up a whole building, not even an entire floor (it shared with Modell's Sporting Goods). Most of the employees - graphic designers, accountants, production/design assistants - all worked in one large room. There were a few minute shared offices that branched off of a hallway that housed the public relations team, some contracted consultants, and a website manager. Other than that, there was just the reception desk and the large show room with a small "conference room" attached. These were my favorite rooms because the walls were covered in signature Betsey prints

Betsey usually worked in the show room, but often walked around the rest of the office. Imagine all the interns' excitement that the actual designer was so accessible! In my role, I worked directly with Betsey from time to time. I specifically remember working with her on a Canadian event she was going to be doing. We scripted and filmed a short promo video for it and another one for her Tea Party Promotion [view it HERE]. I was very impressed with her energy level - the lady has a lot of spunk and could outlast many of the interns...even at almost 70 years old! You can get a great feeling for what it was like to work at Betsey Johnson from Gala Darling's video posted last week (including Betsey's same PA Stephanie from when I was there & I worked in the all white room with all the computers and papers strewn around shown at the beginning of the slideshow part):

In celebration of her fantastic career, I've picked out my fave items from her Going Out of Business Sale. The sale only started today, so the items are still fairly pricey ($200 for many dresses, sweaters, watches, etc). I could only find one thing that was 50% off and it was a tote with a cute cartoon sketch and the year 2011 printed on it for $50. Perhaps the prices will be further reduced as the sale progresses?

I must admit, I've never been a huge fan of the big crinoline dresses (popular with pre-teen girls though) and skull-laden motifs, so you won't find too much of that in my list. However, I do love all of her feminine floral prints (which look fab with a jean jacket!), Marilyn Monroe inspired motifs, and whimsical cartoons and animal prints! I am a particular fan of the "fit n' flare" styles because they are quite flattering on most body types. However I must warn that the "tail feather" designs only really looked great on the very thin models and assistants in the show room and would not be so great on women with much of a curvy figure at all (myself included). Also, several of the photos on the site make the skirts / dresses look particularly voluminous; however, they were filmed with additional petticoats worn underneath. So, if you like that more wild look, be sure to purchase a petticoat. If you'd prefer a more understated look, then never fear - that's what you'll be getting! Without further adue, here are my favorites from the online sale:

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