From Eve’s character “Shelly” on Eve to Stacey Dash’s protagonist “Val” on Single Ladies, the life of a boutique owner has often been glamorized as one chock full of super chic clothing, celebrity clientele, and being the head chick in charge. But contrary to popular belief, a lot of blood, sweat and tears go into making a boutique successful – especially in the Big Apple. This week’s “Get Like Me” feature is young entrepreneur and boutique owner Blake Scotland. Cited as one of Hello Beautiful’s 30 under 30, Blake opened her lower east Side storefront in the worst of economic times but found a way to make it work and thrive. Check out what she had to say:
Name: Blake Scotland
Location: Almost always can be found at or around 62 Clinton Street, NY NY 10002
Personal Style in 3 Words: comfortable, androgynous, deconstructed
Favorite Designer(s): Acne, All Saints, One Teaspoon, Mara Hoffman and Balenciaga.
Must-Have Accessory: My Givenchy messenger bag – I’ve had it going on 2 years now and still feel as passionate about its functionality and design as the day I bought it.
When & why did you decide to open your boutique?
I decided in February 2009 that if I could do anything I would own a store. To me, it represented a dream job, maybe in the same way that for others being an actress or singer represents a reach. There was this moment where I thought to myself: “Other people have figured out how to make this happen. This is possible.” So I set about researching the process and taking realistic first steps to put things in motion.
Were you scared to start your own business?
I definitely had some fear. But I reminded myself that fear is not a good reason either to do or not to do anything. At the time that I opened (Spring 2009) the economy was in bad shape all around and business was scary for everyone. I told myself that people were not necessarily ‘safe’ in corporate jobs so this shouldn’t present a tremendously different anxiety. Of course, I felt it anyway.
How does Blake Scotland, the boutique, reflect Blake Scotland the person?
I feel like so much of my personality comes out in the store. At this moment I would wear every single women’s piece that we carry (and more than a few of the men’s). Everything is comfortable, multi-functional, durable, fun and understated in a certain way. The store itself is warm, welcoming and quirky. We (my friend and colleague Amaris) and I hand-pick all of the music. We’re so excited and passionate about music, constantly searching for things that are new, international, just .. different – James Blake, Rusko, Maluca, Gold Panda. We play things based on what we find on a given day, how we feel. The store itself also changes as we take and display photos. In so many ways the store is us.
Most rewarding experience of your career thus far?
The most rewarding experience has been seeing the store make it to the one year mark, knowing how much time, energy, patience, endurance it took to get here. Our rebranding/reopening coincided with our one year anniversary and seeing the incredible turnout, reading the positive press has reinforced that we continue to move in the right direction. We also love an excited return customer!
Where do you see Blake Scotland in 5 years?
I just want the store to continue to grow and to explore new avenues for growth. We’ve just finished building an incredible webstore BlakeScotland.com. I see the webstore thriving, opening new locations. I’d love a store in LA, a boutique in London. The possibilities are only limited by our ability to stick with it and think outside the box..
3 Pieces of advice for aspiring boutique owners?
1. Be realistic about the costs (remembering to consider how you’ll provide for yourself during those very early days ha)
2. Be prepared to make tremendous sacrifices with regard to your personal life and general lifestyle.
3. I struggle with this also – but pause to appreciate and enjoy the process!
What’s in your purse?
Right now: Dior creme de gloss (lipstick) in Rouge Dior, an inhaler, sunglasses, $20, digital camera, 2 blow pops I bought last night to give as a gift to this boy I like…
1. Break The Rules
Aaliyah always had fearless style. She wore men’s clothing and made it look sexy. She wore midriff baring ensembles unapologetically and in turn created a style that has been often imitated but never duplicated.
2. Have a Signature Style
3. Play Up Your Assets
Aaliyah had an amazing body. She was petite but she had toned abs and amazing arms, so she played those up to a tee.Whatever your assets are, take your ques from the Aaliyah playbook and flaunt them! I love my legs so I bare them every chance I get (hence my obsession with dresses and skirts).
4. Be Effortless
She always had this silent mystique about her. You know, that “it” factor. And no matter what she wore on the red carpet, in her music videos, or anywhere else, her fierce was always effortless. Style should be fun but it shouldn’t be hard work. If you love who you are and celebrate that with confidence, your beauty will always shine through – just like Aaliyah’s did.
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Behind some of your favorite national glossies about fashion & beauty are hardworking and dedicated editors who devote their time and energy to scoping out what’s hot, what’s fresh and what’s “in”. Julee Wilson is one of them.
As the former (and first African-American) Fashion Editor at Real Simple Magazine, Julee Wilson has recently stepped out into the world of digital and now holds the title of Style & Beauty Editor at Huffington Post Black Voices. Now at the helm of a career switch with a fab September wedding in the works, I sat down to chat with Julee about her industry experience, her fashion & beauty faves, and what it takes to work in the world of fashion editorial…
Name: Julee A. Wilson
Location: New York, NY
Personal Style in 3 Words: Whatever makes me feel good. I’m not that girl who has a “signature style” but I wear what makes me happy. From something downtown hipster to a ladylike ensemble. Depends on my mood!
Favorite Designer(s): Tracy Reese, Jil Sander, Celine
Must-Have Accessory: Shoes! Underneath my desk at Real Simple, I had at least 15 – 20 pairs at my disposal. I can wear a pair of leopard flats in the morning and then midday just slap on a pair of YSL wedges.
I saw that on your Real Simple blog – you’re wearing 5 pairs for your wedding right?
Yes, I’m absolutely a shoe girl. I have five pairs for my wedding, and I’m wearing every single pair.
Tell us about the defining moment when you realized you were destined to be an editor.
I always knew that I wanted to be in fashion and write about it. My first internship was at Bergdorf Goodman in the buying department. I had a family friend who worked there so that was my in. But from there, I knew I wanted to work at a magazine. So I contacted an editor at VIBE Magazine. I really loved her work, so I kept emailing and calling and calling and emailing. Finally, she called me in and she says “Ok, there’s a thin line between persistence and annoyance, and you were right on that line. You have the internship, because I can tell you’re hungry for this.” That was the moment when I realized something special was happening.
What was your best New York Fashion Week experience of all time?
My best experience was my first Tracy Reese show. I was wearing one of her dresses. I knew who her parents were because they always sat in the same place and after she’d come out, they’d give her flowers. So while I was waiting for her to come out I went over to her parents and started talking to them. I told her mom, “I love your daughter! Each season, I save up all my money for one of her pieces.” And at that moment her mom says “You need to meet Tracy!” I thought she was kidding. She brought me backstage and I had enough courage to ask Tracy to sign my dress. So she unzipped my dress in the back and signed her tag. And I have not worn that dress again, since that day.
What’s the best sample or gift you’ve ever received as a fashion editor?
I’ve been so blessed to get so many lovely and incredible gifts that I honestly cannot pick one. I appreciate everything from a pair of $10 earrings to big expensive handbags. I cherish them all the same. But really, the thing I cherish the most, are the amazing relationships I’ve made with PR people. Some amazing and awesome friendships have blossomed from working relationships with PR folks.
You’re prepping for a wedding this year. What are your absolute wedding must-haves?
Shoes! My multiple pairs of shoes. I wasn’t really obsessed with my dress until I stumbled upon the amazing designs of Katie Ermilio. I’m really excited about that, I haven’t seen the finished product yet but that’s really important to me. But, really it’s just about my shoes and my man.
Greatest accomplishment to date?
Probably falling in love. Finding my fiancé. He’s amazing and as mushy as it sounds, being in love puts everything in perspective. I feel so blessed that I’ve been put in a place that I have an amazing career and I have awesome family and friends, but I’m also hopelessly in love. He elevates all of the positive aspects about me.
Three pieces of advice for aspiring editors?
1. Have passion and persistence. Doors will close in your face, but stay the course. Just get yourself in the door and work hard. The rest will work itself out.
2. Be true to yourself. The industry can be superficial. See the value in it and what you can add to it, but don’t get lost in it. Fashion is this incredible way of introducing yourself to the world without saying a word. Just know your worth in the industry and stay focused.
3. Never underestimate the power of networking. Sometimes that word has negative connotations, but networking and meeting people and developing relationships makes your job easier and makes it more enjoyable. It can truly open doors for you. Also, get to know people regardless of whether they can help you immediately. For example, I met a woman in book publishing and managed to stay in touch with her although she didn’t work in fashion. When I first moved to NY to pursue my career, she was nice enough to let me stay in her home. Relationships like that are invaluable.
What’s in your purse?
AOL/HuffPost Orientation Folder (I just started there!), Aleve, Nars Lipstick in Fire Down Below, Norma Kamali Cat Eye Tortoise Shell Sunglasses, a pair of Matt Bernsons, the Lia Sophia newest runway collection, an iPhone 3GS (for work), iPhone 4 (my own), my iPad, Boxing Kitten bowtie pin (for last minute accessorizing!)