Also develops Sip & Shop show on social media
SYRACUSE — Ecodessa — the rebranded name of the downtown Syracuse store that originally opened as Gypsy Freedom — has been operating under its new moniker since June 1.
The store, which describes itself as the region’s “first sustainable retail fashion company,” sells women’s clothing and accessories. It is located at 312 S. Salina St. in the Pike Block building.
Caeresa Richardson, the store’s sole owner, is an engineer and originally from Buffalo. She is also a 2007 graduate of Syracuse University, earning a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and a minor in fashion design.
Besides rebranding the store, Richardson has been using a social-media show to help attract customers, something she created to help boost business amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Sometimes after launching, a business makes a change based on learning more about its targeted customer base.
Such is the case with Ecodessa. It opened as Gypsy Freedom on Aug. 31, 2020, but over time, Richardson realized she needed a new name.
“Over the year, I learned really who my customer was … my target market being middle-age professional women mostly that need beautiful clothing to wear to and from work in their daily lives,” says Richardson, who spoke with CNYBJ on Aug. 20.
She believes the store’s original name sounded too “youthful” and made it difficult to attract the customer base she was targeting.
“And Ecodessa is definitely a lot more representative of that modern, professional woman,” Richardson adds.
The new name is a nod to Richardson’s grandmother, Odessa, and the Eco part is based on the store’s “eco-loving values.”
Ecodessa “closely represents a lifestyle brand dedicated to elevating purpose driven, sustainable-fashion brands and empowering women to support brands that align with their values,” per a news release about the store’s rebrand.
The store sells women’s clothing and accessories from “ethical, sustainable, and socially conscious” fashion brands.
Richardson acknowledges that rebranding a business is “actually really not easy.”
“It’s very difficult, especially when you’ve done as much as we did to get our brand out there during [the COVID-19 pandemic],” she says.
Richardson says that she had to update the store’s website, signage, and marketing materials.
In-store purchases generate about 70 percent of the store’s revenue, while online shopping accounts for the other 30 percent, she says.
Sip & Shop show
Richardson created a digital Sip & Shop show that she offered every month live on Facebook and Instagram. It gets more than 400 viewers per month, she says.
She calls it a “key” component of her business that allowed the store to grow during the pandemic.
Sip & Shop allowed consumers to have a beverage and watch as Richardson and her models showed off the store’s new arrivals.
“To improve the production, I introduced live models … my brand ambassadors who I use for every Sip & Shop,” she adds.
She called the online shows a “great way” to get to know her customers, to replace the pop-up shops that were cancelled, and to sell many of the items that the store had in inventory during that time.
The Sip & Shop shows are currently held on the third Thursday of every month, live on Facebook and Instagram. Richardson had to make an exception on Aug. 19 as she was among the participants in the KeyBank Business Boost & Build virtual-pitch event. She had hoped to secure the $10,000 grand prize to make her Sip & Shop show into a series on YouTube.
Instead, Richardson ended the evening in fourth place, securing $1,500. She planned to use that funding for the August Sip & Shop show, which was scheduled for Aug. 26 at Commonspace on Warren Street. It was slated to be a live event, so she could have an audience, something she says her customers had requested.
The show was also going to serve as a celebration of the store’s one-year anniversary. In addition, Richardson planned to “use that broadcast to pitch to other investors so I can get the funding that I need to hopefully to turn it into my own show,” she says.