By Megan Bryant
Idaho. The home of phenomenal outdoor recreation, unforgettable rustic landscapes, and fashion.
Right? Absolutely. As the communities in the Treasure Valley have begun to rapidly flourish, and our populations continue to increase, so has the growth of our access to the latest fashion trends. Boise, Meridian, and the surrounding areas have made numerous “Top 10” lists for best places in the country to live, so it’s no surprise that our roster of fantastic options for shopping would thrive here as well.
I had the opportunity to connect with three locally owned shops who strive to bring great fashion into our community.
First up! Ripple Lifestyle.
Layla, an avid horse enthusiast, mother of three, and recent Idaho transplant from Texas, is thrilled by the potential of the demographic here. “Most fashion boutiques are just women’s clothing,” she explains, “I think the public would be happy to know that we carry a pretty full collection of men’s clothing as well…. dress it up or dress it down… you can do it at Ripple.”
Following fashion trends can be fast-paced and overwhelming. Layla enjoys patterning the store’s inventory and offerings based heavily on stylings demonstrated on the Instagram and Pinterest accounts of the brands they carry.
“I think that fashion changes as our society evolves. Interesting enough, I see a lot of our fashion trends dating back to the 80’s and 90’s with our younger demographic. My philosophy really is to try to be accommodating as well as fashion forward with new trends that might not necessarily be my style,” Layla states, as she goes on to explain her own personal style, “I’d probably bore you to death with my favorite colors of white and black. I’m simply a jeans and t-shirt kind of girl. Give me good denim and a super soft white tank top and I’m good.”
Up next: SHIFT Boutique.
Nestled in the bustling heart of downtown Boise, you’ll find this fashion-forward women’s boutique shop, owned by sisters Megan Quintero and Kelsey Miller, bursting with the latest cute and classy clothing and accessories.
These sisters grew up here in Boise and attended BSU. Kelsey then left for California and Megan moved to Oregon. They each spent about eight years out of Idaho but then moved back to open SHIFT boutique.
“We knew we want to do this and the opportunity presented itself at just the right time. We jumped on a location that was perfect (downtown Boise was the only place we wanted to open) and moved back. Megan arrived a couple days before me in January and I was driving a U-Haul from San Francisco the day we got keys to our store.” Kelsey recounts.
They provide a broad selection of styles to serve customers of any age range, they most often serve their core demographic of young professional women. The same is true for the male demographic they serve with their other shop, SHIFT’s counterpart, KEYSTONE station, a men’s boutique just around the corner, also situated in downtown Boise.
When asked about their fashion influences, it was fun to hear that they love to observe everyday people and how they create unique styles. They take note of the outfit ideas they see from their customers.
“I love fashion as a form of self-expression. Each piece represents who you are in different ways. What is amazing about my role in fashion is you get to be a part of people’s lives…” Kelsey explains. “We’ve helped women with interview outfits, first dates, engagement photos, promotions, all the different life events that come afterwards.”
“I’m a sucker for Fall. I love the layering, the colors, and the super soft sweaters. I also tend to gravitate towards monochromatic looks, chambray shirt with denim or black pants with a black blouse and a neutral mule. My sister prefers more interesting statement pieces, a bold printed blouse or a jacket in a fun color. We can bring these differences together with SHIFT,” She concludes.
It’s not uncommon to hear people say to “never go into business with family,” but these gals are a major exception to that theory. Kelsey points out the thing that is surprising to hear is that “my sister and I work together all day in our stores, and still, at the end of the day, we always ask what the other is doing that night and if they want to hang out.”
Sounds like an excellent business partnership.
And finally, we round things out with Walla Walla Clothing Co.
Currently locations can be found in Walla Walla, Kennewick, and Tacoma, Washington, and Boise, and Meridian, with the anticipation of growing a couple more locations in the Pacific Northwest in the coming 10-15 years.
“Walla Walla Clothing Co started as a family-owned men’s suit, sport coat and ready to wear shop over 60 years ago with a branding transition to Walla Walla Clothing Co 25 years ago. Eighteen years ago, I decided to venture out of my finance career and meet more people and took a part-time weekend job at Walla Walla Clothing Co. This is where I received my retail training, which is some of the best retail training a person can receive as it is very customer-focused and detail oriented in relation to inventory, merchandising, customer service, etc., I fell in love with the business and decided to make it my full-time career. Because of the way the world has become casual and less men shopping, it was apparent I had to incorporate more women’s fashion and relocate to a bigger space in order to survive and our women’s business took off from there,” says Teresa Ellison, owner.
And with that, the business model took shape, Ellison explains “Our target demographic is women ages 25-75 who want to be express themselves thru the clothes they wear and feel relevant in terms of fashion, however, not too trendy. We have a very aspirational customer who loves to stay on trend [while remaining] timeless. Our customer loves the personal connection between herself and where she shops.” Ellison’s fashion influences are rarely celebrities. “They are my staff and the people around me who are strong and inspiring women. I will, however, take a blend of all our designers and combine them to make a very modern and updated look for our customers that they can wear for years to come. My staff is also a tremendous influence on what we bring in our shops. Some of the most amazing women I know are the women who work for me.”
Ellison talks about the biggest challenge in her tenure within the fashion industry and pinpoints it to the internet. “When I first started in this industry, we didn’t even have a computer. We knew all the customer’s names and kept track of what they bought and had in their closets and knew who they were as people. Although we still do that today, we are seeing less traffic and shopping on a personal level due to the internet. Brick and mortar independents helped make our workforce and country so wonderful and the more focus we can place on shopping local the better. We need to get back to the glory days of independent business,” she resolves. “Although beauty truly comes from the inside, fashion and clothing does make a difference. It’s amazing how much you can transform not only a person’s look thru fashion, but also their inner confidence as well,” she notes.
In relation to fashion’s role in society, Ellison says “it is sad to me how the industry has developed fast fashion and how it affects our environment. Too many clothes are bought on the cheap and then discarded for the next inexpensive piece.” Her philosophy has always been for customers to really think about what they are purchasing and its longevity in relation to quality and style and aim for what they will hold onto longer.
Six years ago, she came to Boise to explore and fell in love with our downtown and the people who live here. She points out, “[It’s] probably the friendliest city I have ever encountered with a strong support of independent business. So, I decided it was the perfect fit culturally. Our customers are our friends and that is the type of city Boise is. It feels like a small town because of how the people treat you. Because our flagship store is in Walla Walla, Boise was the closest city in relation to its culture and feel so I knew it would be a perfect fit.”
We couldn’t agree more.
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