Over the Rainbow: Interview with Daniel Carman

Image from the Over the Rainbow website

Since 1975, Over the Rainbow has been a favorite store for many shoppers including countless celebrities (from the Olsen Twins, to Adam Sandler). Located in Yorkville, this store has a vast range of labels, making it possible to meet your every denim- related need. They also sell other items including accessories. You can view their website here.
Sarah Velasco: How did you get into this business?
Daniel Carman: After I graduated from university, I worked for a slew of different clothing operations, from wholesale to sales to denim production. From my experiences there, I genuinely wanted to be in the clothing business, and more importantly wanted to interact with customers in a retail atmosphere. Over the Rainbow was a business my father founded in the 70’s; coming back to work for this incredible store was a natural fit for my career goals.

Sarah Velasco: As one of the owners, what is your role? The things you do on a daily basis?
Daniel Carman: I personally oversee the menswear division of our store: I decide what to buy and help develop selling strategies with my staff & senior management. As one of the owners (along with the rest of my family), you wear all kinds of hats. Every day is different from the next. It could be training, financing, marketing, merchandising or even managing day-to-day operations, but every day presents a new set of challenges. It’s a discipline the entire ownership (and management) team has learned through experience and patience. You have to know how to do it all…

Sarah Velasco: Why Over the Rainbow? What makes it special?
Daniel Carman: We have a unique culture to our store. In an environment that promotes constant expansion, we stuck with our roots and remained a one location clothing store. Some people might find that limiting, but I think it allows us to control our destiny and maintain our identity. Our specialty is serving families; the staff we hire and the merchandise is catered to everyone in a family. We try to offer a wide range of products for any kind of style, regardless of age or taste. It’s easier to buy for one customer or niche market, but we’d rather take the challenging road if it means running the risk of satisfying more people. I believe our attention to customer service also sets us apart…that and the free jujubes

Sarah Velasco: How does premium denim differ from non-premium?
Daniel Carman: From making a jean with my own bare hands, I can tell you that there is much more time, work and detail put into a premium jean. There is definitely more attention to fit; premium labels make smaller quantities than large, vertical retailers and therefore have more room to play with more refined fits (and better selection of fits too). Quality of denim fabric is also superior, especially in “raw denim”. The lycra/spandex stretch material found our jeans is pertinent to the premium world. You also have to keep in mind that every fade, whisker, stitch and feature of a premium jean is carefully produced by a person’s hands in a factory. There’s very little mechanization to a premium jean…

Sarah Velasco: What other things do you sell in store other than jeans?
Daniel Carman: Anything that goes with denim, from tops to t-shirts to dresses to jackets and more. We also carry alternative fabric pants and a great variety of shorts. I truly believe our accessories are both in-style and affordable to add-on to any outfit for any season. We’ve certainly diversified ourselves from being “just” a denim store.

Sarah Velasco: What are some things we will see in the Fall ?
Daniel Carman: Classic mixed with new. That’s been our goal every season: stay on the cutting edge without straying too far from our comfort zone. I think you will be pleasantly amazed with our selection coming for Fall. It’s our best lineup to date…

Sarah Velasco: Current trends right now?
Daniel Carman: Colour is definitely in. It’s looked like Fall in our city for way too long, and I’m glad to see people are starting to gravitate back to colour, whether it’s jeans or tops. There is also less focus on graphic design and more emphasis on quality craftsmanship and material. Customers are getting smarter as to what makes clothing premium.