As a college student, Julie Jennings was a door-to-door bookseller who managed to save an impressive $60,000 in earnings for her hard work. The young Julie used this sum to start her first business, a wholesale production designing accessories that were manufactured in Turkey. Though her home-office-warehouse was destroyed in a fire, she credits this experience for making her a much wiser businessperson. "The reason Uniquities is so successful," says Julie, "is that I have a very strong background in the school of hard knocks and I never gave up."
Consistently voted in the top ten of Best Women's Clothing stores by Citysearch.com audience members (number three ranking) and editorial staff (number one ranking), Uniquities first brought designer denim to the Triangle and was recently voted by Women's Wear Daily as one of the best places in the country to buy denim.
"Do you have any jeans that will fit a large bottom?" a customer asks. "We have jeans that will fit everyone" is the assured reply. Their motto, after all, is: "Where you will always find the right fit."
Mauve: How long have you been in business?
Julie Jennings: 12 years.
How would you describe your merchandise?
We specialize in emerging to established designer clothing and accessories. Lots of denim, sexy tops, handbags, belts, dresses--the must-have items seen in Lucky or In Style.
What do you look for when shopping for merchandise?
Quality fabrics, attractive cuts, trends, selling history.
What are the characteristics of a good item of clothing?
Fit and proportion, quality and hand.
What is the best advice you can give someone when they are shopping for clothing? Updating their wardrobe?
Bring a bra, wear a thong and bring shoes to try them on with. Develop a relationship with a sales associate who has good fashion knowledge and who can direct you to the latest trends and help you update your style.
What should customers keep in mind when shopping for comfort?
Look for good quality--an example: high heels can be comfortable but you need to find well-made shoes.
It depends on what you do, but no low-cut blouses or shirts.
For a night out on the town?
What are the best fabrics to buy for the summer; winter; spring; fall?
Spring/Summer: cotton, denim, Lycra.
Fall/Winter: cashmere, faux fur or fur, denim, velvet, lightweight wool.
What is the most atrocious mistake people make when shopping for themselves? When putting together clothing combinations?
Not thinking about what goes with what, i.e. they buy a skirt in a weird color with nothing to match it. Watch for panty lines and bra straps that show.
What's great about shopping in the Triangle?
The area has really grown in the last few years and with it more boutiques offering a wider variety of styles.
What should you keep in mind when accessorizing?
Less is more.
What's your best piece of advice when putting together a complete outfit?
Wear great shoes and get your hair done.
What is your projection of upcoming trends in fashion?
Jeans are going to stay popular and people are going to wear more jewelry.
In Triangle fashion?
It's getting more fashion forward all the time. I'm excited that so many customers are wearing designer denim. Uniquities brought designer denim to the Triangle and now it is everywhere.
For the coming season?
Lots of feminine blouses, fitted tweed blazers, tunics over jeans, accessories are really important--colorful handbags, long earrings are replacing chandelier earrings. Feminine everything is in this season. Gold jewelry is big. Fur stoles or wraps.
What is your favorite item of clothing?
My old green leather jacket from Earl--it is the best shade of emerald green--or my old Prada fuchsia, satin clutch with Lucite handles. My four-year-old daughter has a large collection of my old handbags and she keeps asking when she is going to get this one. Not yet.
What's in your closet at home?
Lots of Manolo Blahniks, designer jeans--PaperDenimCloth, Seven, Citizens of Humanity; Diane Von Furstenberg dresses, Theory pants in almost every color, and cashmere sweaters in blacks and greens.