4 Lessons Learned from Nordstrom’s Fastest Growing Leather Goods Brand


In 2020, Nordstrom is projected to sell $17.1 billion worth of fashion goods (this includes accessories). For designer-quality brands, crossing over into a luxury department store can be the ultimate coup. We caught up with Bobby Williams, President and Founder of one such brand, BOCONI. Comprising of gorgeous Italian leathers, vintage hardware and fresh linings juxtaposed with American functionality, the eponymous leather brand was established in 2010 by Bobby and his wife Connie.

With their remarkable attention to detail and understated style, its easy to see why BOCONI goods are flying off the Nordstrom shelves. We asked Bobby to share a little insight as to how he got his foot in the door, what he did to stay there and what he’s continuing to do in order for BOCONI to succeed.

While Bobby had prior experience working with Nordstrom it was a meeting with their Private Label group, originally intended to help them develop wallets that really sealed the deal.

“The Meeting went so well, they suggested I take the ideas I presented and convert to my own brand,” Bobby recalls. “We launched BOCONI wallets in 4 Collections to 75 Nordstrom stores [in 2010], had a 65% sell-through rate in 3 weeks and the rest is history!”

Of course not everyone can expect to go the same route but the lesson to be learned here is that inspiration can stem from anywhere. Be on the lookout for new opportunities because they can certainly turn up in unexpected places. “Study the marketplace. Find the retail partner that is missing your product. Dream big, stay focused on your purpose and persevere,” adds Bobby.

You know what they say, know your audience. Understanding how you can position yourself within a retailer will go a long way towards your success. Bobby had a clear understanding of what his retailer was looking for, “Quality and exclusivity – Nordstrom is a high quality company. Whatever brands they carry are upscale, quality-driven and usually far less distributed to other larger retailers.”

Once you get in front of a buyer and that meeting goes as planned, the work doesn’t end there. As @RetailPhil can attest, setting the wheels in motion before the ink dries is key. We asked Bobby exactly what steps were taken immediately after his meeting to ensure BOCONI’s success after sealing the deal with a buyer:

  • Confirmed the Raw Materials (leathers & linings)
  • Set the quality standards for impeccable workmanship (BOCONI’s has less than 1% return rates)
  • Wrote the Purchase Orders to ensure timely delivery
  • Product Ticketing & Packaging (Nordstrom does not allow branded boxes)
  • Market Awareness – [figuring out] what price points were missing from the Nordstrom assortment and finding a way to meet them.

Besides a great product, impeccable follow-through and a thorough understanding of Nordstrom’s business model, how does BOCONI stand out? “At BOCONI we have created a unique ‘vibe’ of handsome exteriors with technically correct interiors on bags & wallets,” explains Bobby. “We developed ‘Plaid-About-You’ linings for our bags [which we] translated into [our] wallets by digitally reproducing the plaid pattern onto our calfskin linings – no one does this to the best of our knowledge.”

Ultimately, Bobby was able to ensure that BOCONI not only met but exceeded Nordstrom’s overall expectations. “BOCONI has created a ‘sweet spot’ for Nordstrom…high-quality at a fair price.”



Read more about how you can better prepare to meet with a Buyer by clicking below: