Let's put it this way:
Had someone sat me down 5 years ago or even as recently as New Year's Eve and told me THIS is what my 2021 would become, I would have laaaaaaughed.
To be perfectly honest, I didn't have high hopes for a plan conceived over Bloody Mary's on a Sunday afternoon. It sounded like it would be fun, allow me to supplement my income after being hit HARD with my career in sales as a result of the pandemic, but I struggled seeing what the big picture would look like. I'm a realist, and this plan didn't seem to be realistically possible in my world (as I knew it back then).
In February 2021 the idea turned into a plan, and the plan was executed, but not without a few bumps in the road. Let me tell you, there were A LOT of tears. If you know me personally, it's not hard to believe. Empath to a detriment at times, I swear. In April 2021, I switched gears and rebranded as Pomp & Chic Boutique.
These two words could not be a more accurate description of who I am, and what we are.
Having a career in sales and carrying one of the most prestigious brands in the optical industry has set the bar for quality pretty damn high. I'm very picky with clothing. There's fast fashion that's in and out within the same season, and then there are those staples that you have to have, to love and cherish, the pieces you actually take to the dry cleaner and sort into the proper loads of laundry. You feel me?
My love for fashion and style started at an early age. I can remember swooping white sheets around into a toga-style dress and using ponytail holders to secure my custom-made dress. I'm from the generation of the Bedazzler. I distinctly remember bedazzling an entire outfit one morning my mom left early for work. I bedazzled the hell out of a pair of purple plaid shorts, a purple sleeveless top, and paired them with a metallic gold belt. My mom was HORRIFIED the day I got home from school. I swear that is how my love for the Valentino Rockstud collection was born.
In High School (which I hated btw) I used my assignment notebook to track all of my outfits, carefully making sure there were no repeats. On Fridays, my friends and I wore black dress pants with the slits on the pant leg and we each had different, but carefully coordinated ribbed turtleneck tops with glittery threading from Express while carrying hand-me-down coach bags.>
I'll fast forward through the Ed Hardy, Von Dutch, Guess Jeans, Bebe, and Juicy Couture days, because we would be here for-ev-er. I have always loved a good pun or passive aggressive t-shirt, jeans, and sneakers.
As I got older and became more confident, my style evolved I was less focused on the brand name or label and more concerned with how I felt wearing it. The "WTF are you wearing?" turned into "Where did you get that?" and "Can I borrow that?" My style can be best described as somewhere between yoga pants that have never been to yoga paired with AF1's and LBD's a la Posh Spice.
Pomp & Chic is my third child. The one that come after the older two are out of diapers and sleeping through the night, and then this last one comes through and you're starting alllllllll over again. I spent my sleepless nights taking online classes on SEO, designing my website, how-to run an actual business, learning about Metadata, alt text, and a bunch of other stuff that had ZERO to do with the return of corduroy and flare denim.
She grew, and grew over the summer. Every time I wanted to quit, a text or a DM of a selfie of an outfit would come in, a message telling me how great a customer felt in an outfit, how many compliments they received. It's what kept me going. Seriously. I don't even know some of you IRL, but at the same time I share so much with each of you. I share the same concerns, the same insecurities, juggling way too much at one time, feeling like the absolute RUINS after having a new baby, mentally prepping yourself to change out of your 2 day old yoga pants into a fresh pair of yoga pants, wondering if that cute dress has a lining that's going to hide my cellulite and camouflage that unavoidable post-c-section shelf. I have felt the exact same about crop tops, and judgement for my side part.
Okay, so this is not a fun thing to do solo. I never felt alone because I had my groups, and my friends, and the texts, and the DM's...but yo, I am limited to Taupe, Black, and White and I'll occasionally toss in some tie dye, camouflage, and leopard. That's it. That's all I've got.
Victoria and I met in our early 20's during a standard GNO with UV Blue and Lemonade. [IT'S TRADITION!] I called her a few times to come over to help me do FB Live try-ons because she has a personality, and she wears a different size than I do. It was really organic the way it all came together, we had a natural chemistry working with each other. I'm very Type-A. It's hard for me to ask for help, and when I do..I'm usually disappointed at the lack of effort displayed in the execution. I would have rather done it myself. I never had that issue with Vic. Last Christmas I had a Santa party for all the kids, and she offered to bring some things. This chick whipped up her infamous pudding cookies, and adorable holiday-themed Pinterest-y snacks and treats. I couldn't have done it better myself. I think Victoria and I balance each other out, we both have our own strengths. When we work together, we are a full steam powerhouse. I admire her humor, sense of style, and her ability to remember names and faces. SHE REMEMBERS EVERYONE. I also know who I'm going to call on a Monday night if I'm craving a Thanksgiving meal in the middle of May. :-)
P&C is officially a Vic & Nik production. <3
In the end of July I was feeling a little defeated. The "J" months are apparently a shit show in the boutique world. That's an understatement.
I was at Hampton Social for lunch one afternoon, and noticed that the Burr Ridge Shopping center had a TON of open store fronts. My boyfriend suggested that I call and see of they have any programs for a short term lease for the holidays. It seemed like a decent idea. Naturally, I waited a few weeks to talk myself out of it but during a manic episode I decided to send an email.
Days later, I received a call following up to my e-mail and was told about this Pop Local contest that the leasing company just launched. It was exactly what I had in mind, but instead of Burr Ridge this spot was in Orland Park. The conversation went well, and I was given the information on how to enter the contest. Once again, I spent the next few weeks talking myself out of entering. I visited my friend Mel at JEM Medspa and she told me I should go for it, with a million reasons why I would succeed. Two days before the contest cut-off date I visited my DITA account, Wear Eyewear and Greg told me this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Greg trusted me a few years back when I promised him DITA would be a success in his store. He is ironically in the same shopping center as the open space for the Pop Local Contest, so I felt confident in his opinion.
I called Victoria and told her I would enter. She said, "Good, because I was going to do it if you didn't." LOL
It seemed like an eternity.
They extended the deadline to enter.
We waited more.
DO YOU KNOW WHAT THIS EXTRA TIME DOES?
:::You've got mail!:::
"Congratulations, you have been selected as one of the Finalists!"
Out of over 30 applications, we were in the Final 5.
We had to wait a week to post this information on social media. I literally deleted the app from my phone. How was I not supposed to tell anyone?! It was hard. Vic and I were super excited. We were told that there would be a Showcase Day as an opportunity to show off what P&C was all about.
This was the first impression of all first impressions. This wasn't 30 seconds of a "hey, hello." this was TWO hours. Two hours to to turn two nouns into verbs.
We did just that. Between work, kids, homework, chauffeuring the littles to sports and school, we pulled it together. It was flawless. We looked ROUGH AF while doing it, but we did it.
On Saturday, September 25th we were overwhelmed with support from friends and family who took time out of their day to help set-up, shop, bring us white claws, and pack it all up. Stephanie! You drove all the way from Indiana on a kid-free afternoon. It meant the world to me. Patti, Jes, Vic's Mom, Dad, Dustin, Ace, Andrew, Greg, Dr. Jones, and Melissa. You guys!!
We met so many amazing people that day, and learned more about their businesses and their journey that led them to be in that same Finalist's Showcase that we were in. It was inspiring to see women-owned businesses dominating, and the amount of work they put in to build their own empire. Kayle from HER Crystals, you are one of a kind. I am so grateful we met that day and I look forward to a friendship and working together in some capacity.
The day ended.
We were back to waiting.
We felt confident in what we had accomplished in those two hours. We were BUSY. We were well received by the general public that stopped in. Most importantly, we had fun doing it.
The following Tuesday, September 28th we completed the last phase of the contest: The Interview.
Vic and I prepared with a lunch at PF Changs, and headed over to the space to meet with our [potential]-makers. We asked questions, we answered questions, I'm fairly confident they walked away thinking I was nuts for already having insurance quotes, an Orland Park business license application, and a plan ready to execute, but this was why I waited to enter the contest. I started this journey not having a whole lot of faith in the big picture, and I needed time to see if this was a reality. I wasn't going into THIS anymore with the mindset of "temporary" or "supplemental". I have a partner. I have a dream. I have a goal. I needed to see it on paper to understand if I could realistically pull this off.
Once again, we left knowing we would have to wait. We drove away confident that we did our very best at representing who we are, and what we want to do.
Saturday, October 2nd at 10:39 AM
:::You've got mail!:::
"Congratulations, Pomp & Chic is the Pop Local Winner!!"
I don't recall what the rest of the e-mail stated, because I called Victoria immediately and she started crying while getting her nails done. We did it. We were authentic, we had fun doing it, and we were going to get to keep going!
There is not one part of this journey that would be possible without the support from our friends and family. I'm not going to thank our "customers" because you're all friends or family in some capacity. We are overwhelmed with gratitude for this serendipitous string of events that led us right where we are meant to be.
We look forward to having a new home, an inviting one. One that has regular operating hours, but also accommodates appointment-only stylings. One that has a seating area for you to come hang at before conquering your grocery shopping at Mariano's. Kind of like the "Cheers" of the boutique world, where everybody knows your name, listens to your problem, celebrates your accomplishments, and likely has a flavored seltzer on deck if needed.
If you wear yoga pants that have been to yoga, or have never been to yoga, find yourself still buying black shirts to add to your closet of black shirts only to keep looking for "that one" black shirt, or maybe you buy that ONE shirt in black, white, AND gray, you're not a regular mom, you're intimated by the idea of stepping foot into a store for fear that they might not sell full size shirts or understand what it's like to put on a pair of jeans a doing a few squats to stretch 'em out.. we are your people. We can't wait to meet you, get to know you, and style you!
To all of you that helped us get here, Thank You.