“I started my career in a mall. I love all that grandeur, and I use it as part of my inspiration for our specialty stores,” said Karen, who's working on her own “new and innovative experience” for her guests. “It comes down to people, and people want engagement. People want to support a small retailer,” she said. “You have to identify their lifestyle issues. Then you know what they want next.” For example, at Fox and Holly, guests can choose an outfit for a barbecue, then they can buy a Big Green Egg all-in-one outdoor grill or Yeti coolers to host the event.
And there are other plans to make shopping fun, like partnering with local wineries to host sip and shop events or outdoor pop-up shops highlighting local artisans involved in jewelry-making and woodworking, pottery, and more. “In every challenge, there’s an opportunity,” she said. Karen credits her family’s support for much of her success. Her son, Kerry, is the chain’s visual director. Kerry did a year at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, then moved on to Ralph Lauren, where he traveled the country doing visual merchandising. “He uses his past experiences as inspiration for our brands,” said Karen. Kerry admits to a love of fashion, the support of innovative parents, and the drive to see the company surpass the 100-year mark in business. “It’s going beyond what is normal, beyond ourselves. It means looking where no one else is looking,” he said.
Colleen Sewell, a corporate selling manager, and Fox & Holly stylist, has been working in retail for 30 years, the last seven of them with Karen Thompson’s LSL Brands.“I always loved the feeling of going into the shop at Lace Silhouettes,” she said. One day, she asked if there was an opening. Two hours later she was on the phone with Karen. “It was a wonderful experience. We shared the strength of being businesswomen and being proactive. We are not here for failure,” she said. Sewell said that listening is the key to offering shoppers the service they need.
“I always start with a greeting that segues into a conversation about what’s going on. You do it in a way that’s not selling a product, but being a matchmaker. We always want them to feel welcome,” she said.
Karen’s other son, Colin, plays tight end for the NFL’s Carolina Panthers. He hosts a podcast called Not For Long and offers free marketing advice when she needs it, she said. Her husband Dave, former owner of Thompson Networks in Doylestown, is her biggest supporter, she said. He also handles the technological operations of LSL Brands. As important as family has been to the success of LSL Brands, so has the community. Whether it’s listening to guests’ concerns when they walk into the shop, or donating a gift certificate to a good local cause, or hosting a denim fashion gala for Pine2Pink, a local breast cancer nonprofit. “We love being philanthropic, and supporting our communities and local families,” said Kerry.