Does anyone else have the post-holiday blues? We’re still coming down from the hustle and bustle and finally have time to reflect on the season, including some of the wonderful people who helped make it so magical.
The Rare Pair has a lot of friendly employees, whom you may know well. There are about 13 people who double as elves for a couple months of the year. They love to help you with shoes, gifts, outfits and holiday wrapping. Beyond that, there are a few people who are also responsible for transforming the store, windows, and online presence, in order to create an all-around cozy holiday experience. There is no one “Santa” who gets all of the credit for the windows, photos, and decorations that help get The Rare Pair in shape for the season… it is really a team of elves who transform the RP and work their magic to bring the magic to 401 Division Street.
We thought we would give you a little taste of the lingering RP magic. You may well know these elves, but do you know what happens behind-the-scenes?
Let’s meet these special elves!
Juley Jenkinson: Window Designer/Visual Merchandiser
If you have ever walked down Division Street, you have likely noticed our changing window displays. Many people rotate through our visual team, but returning “head elf” for the past 10 years is Juley Jenkinson. She has an eye for design from which everyone in town benefits. She designs the drool-worthy outfits that people notice in our windows, and coordinates the design of the windows with the in-store displays.
How many window displays do you do per year?
We do about 4-5 big displays, or seasonal displays a year and a couple of transitional, smaller displays.
What’s your favorite window display that
you have worked on at the RP?
It is SO hard to choose. The holiday displays usually hold a special place in my heart. A couple that really stand out in my mind are the Magazine Window, when we created outfits out of magazine pages, and the year we displayed very large photos that our resident photographer, Lisa Mathre, took of staff members modeling winter outfits. It was so simple but made such a huge visual impact.
What’s the secret to your outfits? How do you make mannequins look so good?
Lots and lots of layers! Also, knowing what represents well on the mannequins. I’ve learned over the years that there are just some things that do not look good on a mannequin. Certain styles of clothing or particular fabrics do not always work well in the windows. Picking the right accessories and shoes can also really make the outfits pop.
Tell us a little bit about THIS window display.
The idea for this window evolved over time from our original tagline “Merry and Bright.” We typically start with an idea or tag line and work from there. The idea of brightly colored packages and presents seemed to fit that original idea well, but the deeper we got into it the more we decided that “Give a Gift” fit as the tagline for this year. We knew we wanted something fun and bright. We are intentional about having a very different look from year to year and since last year was more rustic with deeper and darker colors, we went in the opposite direction this year.
She mentioned Lisa Mathre, our resident photographer extraordinaire… funny, she’s up next!
Lisa Mathre: Photographer/Visual Artist
Have you ever noticed all of the carefully staged and beautifully edited photos and ads for The Rare Pair? Those are all planned and produced by our in-house photographer and artist: Lisa Mathre! Lisa has been with the RP team off and on for 20 years, and has taken their photos exclusively for almost 10 of those years.
Lisa & Krin make a good visual team. When I asked Krin about her collaboration with Lisa, she was quick to respond, “I love helping Lisa style & assist with some of the photo shoots. My next job, I want to be her full time assistant! Lisa is such a professional and we are incredibly lucky to have her. Her natural light photos and attention to detail during editing never go unnoticed. And her tag lines are so fun & creative.”
Lisa, what is your favorite thing about taking photos for the RP?
My favorite thing about taking photos for the RP is working with and styling the models I use. So much fun outfitting someone with new merchandise!
Tell us a little bit about your career path. How did you get into photography?
I was a Journalism major at the University of St. Thomas and got into some photography there. I then took a few more classes at Normandale that specifically focused on photography.
What is your favorite photo/ad campaign you’ve done for the RP?
My favorite campaign ad was the Christmas shoot a few years back. We usually shoot the ads earlier than the normal snow arrives, but that year we happened to have an early snowfall and it all came together so beautifully.
Tell us about your creative process. How do you go about creating the beautiful outfits and photos?
As the seasons change and new items arrive, I start to visualize in my mind what I can do to create ads. Lots of brainstorming happens between Krin and me. Plus, a little inspiration from other social media always helps as well!
This takes us to Krin Finger. Remember what I said about no one being Santa? Maybe scratch that, if anyone is Santa… it’s her.
Krin Finger: Santa. (+owner of the Rare Pair)
Krin is our fearless leader. She has owned the store for almost 27 years and is the brains behind it all. She loves a theme and works hard to create and maintain a beautiful store. We can give her the title of “Santa” because she knows what is going on with every aspect of the store and pays attention to the smallest needs and details… she ALWAYS checks her list twice!
We know you love a theme – tell us about the theme for this year.
Oh! How I love a theme! This year’s Holiday Window Display & Ad Campaign Theme is “Give a Gift of Comfort & Joy!” We usually start brainstorming for the Holiday windows and ads at the end of the summer. I was imagining a “Merry and Bright” theme for this year, but Juley Jenkinson came up with the “Give a Gift” theme & idea of using wrapped gifts as the backdrop for our windows. The design team got to work on choosing a color scheme, which Lisa Mathre built on to create our white-background ad campaign for local and social media. As we were paging through wrapping paper catalogs, it dawned on me that we had a lot of leftover wrapping paper from over the years that all seemed to coordinate pretty well together. Buffalo Plaid, Snowflakes, Stripes, Nordic Designs, etc. all tied together by our signature red ribbon. Mid-October, we started collecting shoe boxes and recycled boxes of all shapes & sizes. The entire staff pitched in and helped with the wrapping. It was a wonderful RP team effort this year! Window installation day: Emily Oberto, Juley Jenkinson, Dale & Ethan Finger and myself. My sister-in-law, Debby Larsen even pitched in this year! Since 2009, Debbie Butterfield & Juley Jenkinson have been the lead members of our Design Team. Most of the credit goes to them but they humbly always include the whole team. *Debbie was traveling this season – designing showrooms for her full time position at Midwest-CBK in Cannon Falls. I am thrilled that we were able to reuse old store materials and recycled items this year! A special thank you to our intern, Emily Oberto, for her help this season. I bet she didn’t have a clue how much work went into our windows and ads until she spent an unbelievable amount of time prepping, and then 14 hours installing the windows in one day!
How many boxes are in the windows?
I stopped counting at 500 wrapped boxes. We should have had a contest: “Guess how many presents are in the windows?”
Where do you get your inspiration for designs and displays?
Inspiration for displays comes from everywhere! I like to walk around hardware stores, go to flea markets and antiques stores, window shop and scroll through Pinterest when I have the time. For ads, Lisa and I share a private Pinterest board and a large file of magazine clippings for photo inspiration. But, most of the inspiration comes from meeting for dinner/drinks with the visual teams. After filling up almost 2 storage units full of props and displays, I have become much better at reusing things and finding people that like to borrow or trade display items with us. We have met some great folks this way!
How many displays/themes do you think you’ve done? Tell us about your first one.
I have been doing displays since the 1980s. I started displays at Serendipity in Northfield when I was in college. When I purchased The Rare Pair in 1991, there were 3 windows. We now have 5 windows to display. My mom helped me with my first window display at The Rare Pair. I learned so much from her about fashion and display. She worked at Perman’s in Northfield for several years and then worked with me for a while. Her attention to detail is something I am so proud to have inherited from her. One of the first windows I remember doing for Christmas was when I was 9 months pregnant with my first son, Blake. A friend & I stenciled holly on the border of the windows. Not sure I had a theme back then? A past employee, Lujean Paulson, did The Rare Pair windows for several years. She had a knack for such unique windows and she made it look so easy. I have always appreciated her for that. Everytime I do a new window, I recall her advice: Start with the big picture/idea and theme, then scale it down. “Less is Always More.” Jill Enestvedt has helped me out over the years too. I think she was grateful when the Design Team was formed. But, when we need something artistic done, we call on Jill.
My Son, Ethan (right), has shown an interest in window design too. He has helped us out with several of them. And Dale, of course, is the guy behind the scenes that helps out with everything!
Thank you, ladies, for keeping us up-to-date and still feeling the holiday spirit! And in case you missed the boxes in the windows… here’s one last picture 🙂
(Photos and Interviews by Emily Oberto, intern for the 2017 Holiday Season).