Yellow Box founder Terry Chen isn’t afraid to experiment. The lifestyle brand has found its way since recently expanding categories, adding boots and jewelry to its flip-flop and athleisure shoe fare. As the label navigates the ever-changing marketplace, Chen revealed to Footwear News his strategy moving forward.
One of Chen’s most anticipated projects is a spring ’17 exclusive line for HSN, part of the shopping network’s movie program that takes inspiration from Disney’s forthcoming live-action big-screen remake of “Beauty and the Beast” starring Emma Watson.
“There’ll be six of our products made with the movie theme under our label, including sneakers and espadrilles,” Chen shared. “We made sandals with roses and rhinestones with Yellow Box branding. It’s an HSN exclusive and will retail for around $60 to $100. We think this will be great exposure for our name.”
Footwear News: How are you growing your product offering for the coming year?
Terry Chen: We’ve been trying hard to expand beyond the sandal. Right now, we have three very good-selling boots. It’s on a smaller scale, but next year we can expand a little bit in this area. Our boot business has been distributed by a few retailers — Macys.com, Shoe Carnival and Belk. For a small brand like us, we don’t have huge distribution power. A lot of times we need to break the ice with a good product, and finally we got something. Two months ago, we expanded into jewelry [and are offering it on] our e-commerce site. We had requests from consumers and saw this as a good idea because you can offer customers another opportunity to reach a minimum purchase total to avoid shipping costs. So far, it’s performing OK, and I think we will go forward.
FN: How are you developing your e-commerce business?
TC: Our main business is wholesale, but we launched e-commerce three years ago. In the past six months, our growth on the site is about double. We can do over about $3 million and break even. So far, we spend a lot of advertising dollars on search engines. We want to learn a little more and decide what to do.
FN: A couple of years ago, you opened some standalone stores. Are you still pursuing that sales avenue?
TC: The stores all closed last year. It was a deal with DSW, where they licensed our name to open the stores. The stores didn’t perform that well, so DSW cut everything off. They asked if I wanted to take over, and I only wanted one out of the four [stores], so I thought it would be best to let it all go. It was a DSW thing, but we got great experience. It’s just not time to go there again.
FN: What are you doing to expand your wholesale business?
TC: Our strategy is to develop the smaller chains. We have about three new customers that have 50 to 250 stores. It will make the company much healthier, instead of doing big volume. Also, Yellow Box [started as] a very independent business. We used to have a large independent retail base — over 3,000 doors — but because of the dot-com revolution, over the past five years we lost around 500. [To build back our independent business], we are doing it the oldest way — just going after them one by one. There’s no better way.
“Beauty and the Beast” hits theaters March 17. Watch the trailer below: