Ladies fashions get boost at Seasons
By Mark Sherry
Jill Bertram (back, center) has experienced and talented help at her Seasons by Design shop in New Holstein, including Hailey Tasch (front), Toni Rodriguez (back, left) and Kathy Lefeber.

So you think you have to travel 25 miles or even further to find the latest in women’s fashions and accessories?

Think again—and check out Seasons by Design at 2605 Ford Dr. in New Holstein. This local treasure of a store is located just behind the Gruett’s implement dealership and between Gruett’s and Honeymoon Acres, just off STH 32/57 on the city’s north side. “We’re a hidden treasure,” owner Jill Bertram said. “We’re tucked away.”

But as hundreds of area women will testify, it is well worth a tiny bit of extra effort to find Seasons by Design. Jill said first-time customers are sometimes misled by the location or the seemingly small appearance of the building from the outside. Sometimes customers step into the small entryway packed with gift items and think that might be all there is.

Then they enter the next set of doors. Jaws drop and eyes grow wide as they try to take in the sights, sounds and smells of Seasons by Design. The jaws often stay open as they slowly make their way from front to back, finding more and more treasures with every turn.

Largest shop in area

“We’re still the area’s largest specialty gift shop featuring home décor, garden accents and unique gifts,” Jill said. It is hard to say how far a local resident would have to travel to find another shop with this many items. “Let us save you the time,” Jill said.

And now Seasons by Design is expanding even more—not physically, but in its already growing line of ladies fashions.

Area women might not know that Seasons by Designs already carries a large assortment of Lindsay Phillips interchangeable sandals and shoes. New spring lines are in stock and more are on the way. Customers know Jill never does anything just halfway, so rest assured there are sizes for everyone.

But women can get more than just their feet covered at Seasons by Design. The shop also currently carries purses and handbags, scarves for every season, boot toppers or cuffs, hats, headbands, faux furs, ponchos and jackets, including reversible ones. And all that is before the coming expansion of ladies fashions.

Can’t find it elsewhere

Some of the items are only available in boutiques such as Seasons by Design, so women do not have to worry about showing up at a party wearing the same thing as someone else because it was purchased at a chain store.

A new and improved floor plan storewide— expected to be done this spring— will make room for the expanded ladies fashions as all areas will be redesigned. More than half of the original room which housed Seasons by Design will be occupied by closeouts and clearance items, doubling the amount of those great deals.

As always, Seasons by Design also goes beyond just putting items out on a rack or shelf for purchase. Jill and her employees—which number as many as nine during busy times of the year—will work with women who want help putting together an outfit. Free scarf tying events are held from time to time as another example of Seasons By Design going the extra mile for its customers. “It’s where your fashion becomes practical,” she said.

Ladies fashions is not the only area Jill envisions expanding during 2013. She said she has not carried a lot of bath and body products in the past, but that will be changing. Inspirational and memorial items have always been big sellers at Seasons by Design and will be expanded further, as will her gift lines involving infants and children. Baby is big right now, Jill said, and Seasons by Design has doubled its offerings there in the past year. She also has begun to add more items for teenagers as well.

Inspirational is big right now

“I’m so fascinated by what I’ve learned over the years in this business,” Jill said. “What started my business was seasonal merchandise. Now I’ve noticed the trend is that my gift people are looking for something for that special reason. When the economy is tough, we get more sentimental. Inspirational/memorial has grown to be a huge category for my shop.”

“There’s things for all ages,” she added about Seasons by Design. “I’m buying for a wider audience. I’ve really been focusing on trends.”

The list of what impresses shoppers at Seasons by Design goes on and on. In the fall, Green Bay Packers merchandise was huge, including shirts for women but plenty of items for the male fan as well. Seasons by Design has a huge selection of Colonial and WoodWick candles. Wine and coffee accessories continue to be popular, so Jill keeps expanding those lines.

Jill has an experienced and talented staff helping her as well. Floral designer Toni Rodriguez enjoys putting together custom gift baskets and unique arrangements for funerals and special occasions. Kathy Lefeber has an interior decorating background and enjoys helping people accessorize their homes with Seasons by Design’s many options. Hailey Tasch assists in all aspects of the business and specializes in the store’s interchangeable Kameleon fine jewelry.

“I try to buy things made in Wisconsin,” Jill said. “I have a lot of things made in the U. S. A.” She also said she enjoys hosting jewelry trunk shoes and other special events throughout the year.

It is all part of going the extra mile for her customers, who are always happy they went the extra few feet to find Seasons by Design.