A colorful pop-up retail fashion shop with one-of-a-kind offerings was all the rage inside a bustling Fashion Valley Nordstrom store after lunchtime on the last Thursday in March.
Handcrafted purses, unique clothing, funky accessories and striking pieces of jewelry made by relatively unknown artisans and start-up designers in Mexico were flying off the makeshift shelves at the pop-up, called “My Pipl.”
My Pipl – which translates into English as ‘My People’ – was launched last December by a foursome of fashion-minded Latina entrepreneurs – 52-year-old Catherine Bachelier, 47-year-old Linda Waisbord, 38-year-old Diva Lomas and 52-year-old Irene Parra. The women are looking to give creative types from other countries a chance to grow their brand in the United States.
“We love giving these designers a bridge to sell their stuff and give them exposure they never would have had otherwise,” Bachelier said. “When you think about it, we are all ‘my people.’ We are all the same, spiritually, energetically, all of it. The concept is to bring the world designers and startups to the United States to get established.”
Bachelier said she knows there is a market in the U.S. for those designers that for now remain under the radar.
“We think people in the United States are looking for something new, something fresh, something different,” she said. “We’re having lots of fun doing this. It’s so exciting and we have a lot of energy behind it.”
The first My Pipl event in December at the Nordstrom in Westfield UTC was a major success, Bachelier said.
That was no surprise to Lomas, who had 15 years of experience in the fashion industry in Mexico before starting work with My Pipl more than seven months ago. Lomas said she had carefully analyzed the fashion market and watched for signs of how it was evolving in the U.S.
She said in December, she told Waisbord, whose family owned a curio shop in Tijuana when she was a child and who has a deep love for all things made in Mexico, that “the time was right.”
And judging by the crowd of shoppers at the Nordstrom Fashion Valley pop-up, Lomas was spot-on.
Remarkable First-Day Sales
Bachelier half-jokingly remarked mid-afternoon that she was concerned that My Pipl might not have enough inventory to last the full four scheduled days of the event.
The women may have to double the company’s stock of boots, bags and jewelry at the next My Pipl pop-up, happening May 5-8 at Nordstrom at the Westfield UTC location.
My Pipl is an offshoot of a fashion-minded company called The C&L; Experience, founded by perpetual world traveling fashionistas Bachelier and Waisbord in 2015.
Their first company started less than a year after the two met as Nordstrom employees when they bonded over “being hard-working women who love fashion and love to travel,” Waisbord said.
“We are a good team together,” she said. “Catherine has a thriving event planning business and is a logistics expert who can do a timeline and break down a project like nobody’s business. I’m very passionate about business and I’m just a fantastic salesperson. I go all in. It’s in my blood.”
The two have a sizable following on several social media platforms and say that when they’ve shared photos of the items they see on their trips, people comment “bring me back those earrings, bring back that necklace for me,” Bachelier said.
“And when we come back when they see some of the things we shopped for and they ask us, ‘Where did you get that?’” Waisbord said.
Bachelier said that they originally floated around an idea to open a brick-and-mortar store in San Diego but changed their minds. The instead decided to focus on using the pop-up model to bridge the gap between “all these cool designers from all over the world” and Nordstrom, Bachelier said.
While the items at the Spring pop-up were made by local artisans based in Mexico hoping for an opportunity to break into the U.S. market, future pop ups at other Nordstrom outlets are expected to highlight designers from other countries around the globe.
“The U.S. market is very important to sales,” said Parra, who handles most of the accounting needs of the group and lives in Tijuana.
Nordstrom outlets in New York, Hawaii, Las Vegas and Nashville have also hinted that they want My Pipl inside their stores, but they may have some competition soon.
Target Expressing Interest
Bachelier said that Target stores on March 31 contacted the women and wants to discuss a partnership. That would go along with Waisbord’s wish in seeking to expand My Pipl with pop-ups around the country as part of a larger vision.
“When Catherine and I have worked together, we always believed we could serve a bigger purpose than just fashion and style, she said. “We thought this is another extension of something we can do for designers, opening up the world to artists in other countries.
“I know wherever I travel, people say, ‘Please give me a shot at the (United) States, take me with you.’ The future is really to bring these platforms throughout the United States and beyond so these designers have a shot at growing their business.”
My Pipl also has a travel TV show in the works, Bachelier said, and the group is shopping the idea around to several stations, including Netflix and National Geographic.
In the TV show they are calling “Fashion Boarding Pass,” the women talk about clothes and culture.
“Why we wear what we do and what it says about your country is very compelling,” Bachelier said. “How the youth are changing the way we dress is equally interesting. Along the way, we discover incredible designers all over the world. We then bring them back for Americans to experience and enjoy.”
The pilot to “Fashion Boarding Pass” was filmed in Mexico and new episodes will be filmed in countries that the women are planning to visit in the coming months, including Africa, India, Israel, Japan and France.
FOUNDERS: Catherine Bachelier, Linda Waisbord, Diva Lomas and Irene Parra
HEADQUARTERS: San Diego
BUSINESS: Retail pop-up
NOTABLE: My Pipl is in talks with several TV networks for a series focusing on clothing and culture.