I meant to write you all last week about the Third Anniversary of the Julia Farr boutique — 12 seasons in fashion years — but got behind in getting ready for the celebration sale. I’m not sure why it seems more significant to me this year, but I think that with each anniversary there is that overwhelming and exciting feeling of having built something that is taking root. And the big dream I had is not just coming to life, it is an ongoing reality. Of course, being “real,” I’ve learned more than I can write in a post about the fashion industry, small business life, and the day-to-day of running a store. It is a mix of both the learning moments and the successful times that contributes to my enthusiasm of making it a really good business and a really great boutique.
To reminisce a bit about the opening day, I remember opening the door to the store early in the morning, with a bouquet of flowers in my arms to put on the front table. There was no ribbon cutting that day (we had a fun launch party a few months later) but I had a strong feeling there alone that my life would never be the same. We had spent months converting the space at 5232 44th Street in Washington, a small townhouse in Friendship Heights with loads of charm:
My first sale of the day was to a good friend, Mark Grannis, who found a great Milly dress for his wife, Sarah. As many sales as I have had in the past three years, that one is clearly etched in my memory.
I didn’t know a few things on July 21, 201o that I know now. (I’m sure there are many things I still don’t know and will learn along the way!) I didn’t know exactly who my customer would be — what sort of clothing she would be looking for, what time of day and what time of year she might be looking for that perfect piece. So I bought different styles, day and evening, contemporary and upper contemporary, in a range of sizes as made sense.
What I learned is that women from ages 15 – 105 (my grandmother) come to Julia Farr, but it is mostly women in their 30’s-60’s who are the consistent client. They are looking for day-to-evening, polished-chic-yet-appropriate pieces for their wardrobe that can travel the globe with them. Many women come looking just for a special event, so I have learned to buy more cocktail and evening dresses. I do have the woman who is looking only for professional pieces so Lafayette 148 New York, Julia Farr Collection, and Raoul have been great designs to offer. I learned early on that women did not seek me out for the casual/weekend look, so except for the fabulous Joe’s Jeans, we do not focus our buying there.
I learned that cocktail events in the boutique make shopping fun for groups of women (and men on our Annual Holiday Men’s Night), and that personalized one-on-one private appointments lend focused attention to a client who is building her wardrobe. So we do both! And I love the personal consultation and closet edit, which helps me learn about the women I am helping to build a wardrobe. And nothing is more fulfilling for me than to assist in designing a wardrobe to fully express who that woman is.
The very part best of it has been meeting the wonderful and fascinating women who walk through my door every day. I have made such wonderful friends and am thrilled when they stop in. I could not make it all work without my fabulous boutique manager, Shanlee Johnson, (shown here with her dear friend, Christina Pell Neal)
and for the women who shared my vision and jumped in on the first day to help me build my dream: YOU!,
Mary Joyce Colwell, Kelly Croglio, Janie Haynes, and soon after that — Melissa Parker and Paige McKenzie.
For all of of the women of Julia Farr, I am completely grateful everyday.