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Bridal shop’s flair brings in customers

Joyce Feickert, owner of Hem &amp; Her, shows one of her custom gowns. Behind her is a selection of pachuco suits popular with young Latino men.  </p>
<p>Feickert made a concerted effort to reach Hispanic clients with Quinceañera packages and Mexican wedding items.

Joyce Feickert, owner of Hem &amp; Her, shows one of her custom gowns. Behind her is a selection of pachuco suits popular with young Latino men.

Feickert made a concerted effort to reach Hispanic clients with Quinceañera packages and Mexican wedding items.

Magenta tulle layered over the deepest blue. Scarlet studded with silver. Kelly green flashy with crystal.

Hem & Her doesn’t look like your typical bridal boutique.

When Joyce Feickert opened up four years ago at 4004 S. Stone Ave., just a few blocks south of Tucson Mall, she wanted something different from the large, traditional bridal store she had run for 16 years.

“The market changed. It’s not as conservative, like it was in the ’80s. People are into bright colors, and bling is in,” Feickert said. “The second time around, I went all out; I went for color.”

And she went after Tucson’s Hispanic market, offering brilliantly hued quinceañera gowns, Mexican wedding ensembles and accessories, and even the distinctive zoot-style pachuco suits, so popular among young men, alongside more traditional fare.

Looking for her niche, Feickert, an Anglo originally from South Dakota, had asked herself how she could fill a need – one that the “big box” bridal stores couldn’t satisfy.

“When I opened, I advertised on the South Side, and they were all very excited about a store that caters to quinceañeras,” she said. Today 60 percent of Hem & Her’s clientele is Hispanic, and half of the calls to the store each day are from Spanish-speakers.

The biggest challenge, she said, is getting people to know where she’s located. She opened the store far from the South Side’s large Hispanic community, in a historic building on property she bought 10 years ago. But being near Tucson Mall helps, she said. And there are plenty of marketing strategies that work.

From keeping a stock of dresses in smaller sizes and brighter colors to hiring Olga Godfrey, a dress designer from Hermosillo, and Olga Overholt, a seamstress from Europe, there’s a lot that Feickert says she’s doing differently. Growing a Hispanic clientele was both a natural progression and an intentional campaign, she said.

“We targeted with packages,” she said. “People want to simplify, and a lot of the Hispanic community love packages. So we marketed package deals.”

For instance, a quinceañera package for $525 includes a dress, tiara, bouquet, pillow and slip. A bridal special includes a gown, veil and headpiece.

In September, Hem & Her started offering Spanish-made Pronovias wedding gowns, wildly popular in Europe. Pointing to a TV set featuring models slinking down the runway in intricately elegant concoctions gorgeously detailed with lace, Feickert said many of her Hispanic clients have been asking for the designs.

“When I hired Olga, we went to all the stores around and we were spies,” she said. “They were all very plain and similar.”

The pair traveled to New York, Italy and Spain for inspiration.

“We buy a lot for the Hispanic market,” Feickert said as Godfrey pulled out a lazo, a special rosary used in Mexican wedding ceremonies, this particular one made of strung crystals.

“It’s two loops, one for the bride and one for the groom,” Godfrey explained. “It means they are forever joined.”

The shop also sells arras, another Mexican wedding tradition, she said. Arras are coins, 13 in all, signifying good fortune for the couple for each of the 12 months of the year, and one extra to share with the poor.

“We take care of our customers, what their needs are,” Godfrey said.

Understanding the culture is critical to building trust with Hispanic customers, Feickert added. And it’s a good marketing strategy because the number of people in wedding parties and quinceañera needing matching clothes tends to be sizeable, and because word-of-mouth referrals are commonplace.

“It’s important for Hispanic people. They don’t like going to big, huge box stores. Mom-and-pops are what they’re used to in Mexico,” Feickert said. “Here, they like the energy, the casualness. They feel at home.”


About this package

Hispanics eat and drink. They buy clothes and computers. They need services such as insurance, medical care and auto repair.

Business owners must realize this if they want to be competitive in a market that is one-third Hispanic.

Find out what some local businesses have done to reach this lucrative and often overlooked segment of the population, and get some tips from experts on how to make it work for your business.

Also, read a profile a local Hispanic-owned business that is moving beyond its South Side roots and gaining fans from around the city.

Whatever you need to reach the Hispanic market, Edge will help you find the perfect fit.

More stories

Successful marketing means embracing differences


Feickerts tips:

• Be very friendly.

• Have someone on staff who speaks Spanish.

• Advertise differently. Make fliers in Spanish, run commercials on Spanish radio and TV stations and do billboards. Market to schools and churches. Do fairs and open houses.

• Offer coupons and packages.

• Be available in the evenings and always have a human, not a voice recorder, answer the phone.

• Locate your business in a place with character; do something cute and add teeny touches.



Download demographic info on Southern Arizona Hispanics (pdf).

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