I happened to have a lunch meeting at the country club. The occasion created the perfect excuse to dress like a lady who lunches. I think Dorothy would approve.
That “fashion doesn’t have to be a luxury,” is E. Leigh’s shop mantra. Erin Hohnbaum is at the helm of the quickly expanding brand. I visited the Fayetteville store and found that the clothes are pretty, feminine and fun; just like Ms. Hohnbaum.
Meet Little Rock native and U of A Alumna, Erin Hohnbaum. You know the type…ferociously driven, gregarious, beautiful, the type of young woman who starts a business hocking clothes out the back if her car, then turns it into three successful retail stores in less than two years. A young woman who made the 2013 Arkansas Business top 20 in their 20s and was named one of Soiree magazine’s 24 women to watch in 2012. Yeah that’s right. She did all of this before turning 30. So maybe you don’t know the type?
I finally had the opportunity to meet Erin this summer. For years, mutual friends had been saying that we would get on famously. Of course, they were right, (had we but known!) Anyway, I was working on a business venture that gave me a reason to call her up. That particular business relationship didn’t work out but we remained friendly. So friendly in fact, that she recommended me to a friend of hers at Mangan Holcomb who needed help with PR. She has taken the time to help me personally and professionally. I’m indebted to her, but she has yet to call in the favor. I have a feeling if she did, I wouldn’t even notice.
Despite how busy and stretched she is – Erin remains refreshingly gracious and accessible. She’s open to new challenges like the upcoming NWA Fashion Week. This will be E. Leigh’s inaugural time participating in the Northwest Arkansas based event. Her shop’s involvement, (along with West Little Rock store, Scarlet) begs the question; will this soon become Arkansas fashion week?
Look #1: Dress E. Leigh’s * Heels Lulu Townsend * Blazer Thrifted Ralph Lauren * Rhinestone Ring Kate Spade * Rhinestone Necklace Mae’s
Look #2: Top Everly, E. Leigh’s * Skirt E. Leigh’s * Belt Vintage via Cheap Thrills * Earrings * Vintage via Grey Dog * Heels Shoenami NOLA
Look #3: Dress E. Leigh’s * Hat Vintage Thrifted * Silk Blazer Thrifted Argenti * Heels Michael Antonio
The Window Shopper for NWA Fashion Week | styling Payton Bridewell | MU Samantha Clark & Hair Suzannah Files for Crown Beauty Bar | photography Celi Birke for MGB Photo | shot on location at Daniel McCormick Accounting (designed by Fay Jones)
Q & A with Erin
The Window Shopper: Tell me more about the E. Leigh’s brand. Who is the E. Leigh’s girl? Erin Leigh Hohnbaum: I describe the E.Leigh’s brand as feminine and fashion forward. We know that modern women wear many hats. We (as a company) are working women, on-the-go mothers, fun, flirty date-night girls. The E.Leigh’s brand tries to help women be everything they need to be seamlessly.
TWS: Describe your personal aesthetic. ELH: Personally, I love clean lines and feminine pieces. Clothing that make me feel strong and put together, but look like a woman.
TWS: Describe your aspirations for E. Leigh’s short term/long term. ELH: Goodness, this is a hard one. I feel like my aspirations for E.Leigh’s are constantly evolving. My number one priority when I started this business was to make sure our customers AND my employees love E.Leigh’s. I have always wanted it to be a place where people look forward to coming. A place you feel better leaving than when you came in. Would I love to have 100 stores someday? Absolutely! But, I certainly do not want to sacrifice quality for quantity. A very short -term goal is getting our website back up and running. (Editor’s note: look for this to launch soon @ eleighs.com)
TWS: Who/what inspires you style-wise? ELH: Of course, my style is always a direct reflection of my mood that day. Comfy casual or sleek and buttoned up, I just wear what feels good. My celebrity fashion icon of the moment has to be Zoe Saldana. I just love her.
TWS: What trends/looks/colors/whatever are you looking forward to this spring? ELH: I’m SUPER excited about this spring. There are so many wearable trends. I’m always a fan of shift blouses. I saw TONS of these at market. I’m also really into skater skirts right now. They’re so girly and easy to wear.
TWS: Do you have any advice for young women (like myself) who look up to you for your entrepreneurship? ELH: One of the biggest life lessons I’ve learned is “thoughts become things.” Your thoughts and energy shape your life. If you want to change your life, first, you have to change what’s going on in your head. Second of all, I believe that a woman’s intuition is one of her greatest gifts on this planet. Listen to it. Fine-tune it. You’ll end up right where you’re supposed to be.
TWS: What can we expect to see at your NWAFW 2014 show? ELH: Since E. Leigh’s is a NWAFW virgin; we decided to just be very true to who we are as a company. We are striving to show NWA exactly what being an E.Leigh’s girl is all about. We couldn’t be more excited!
I visited the new & improved SOHO Clothiers in Rogers to pick up a few transitional pieces just in time to look chic for Spring.
I chose the slouchy black & cream pant for it’s supreme versatility. Comfortable but still dressy, the trouser can be paired with virtually anything.
I was immediately drawn to the BB Dakota embellished blazer. The sequins picked up whatever color they were near, making it a wear-with-everything staple. It also had a trim fit which gives it a continuity with the outfit rather than feeling like an add-on.
Make-up: Kory Tyler Simpson /MAC
Leslie Claud Freeman and her family finalized the purchase of the Rogers shopping staple, Soho Clothiers on April 20th, 2013. After almost a year on the ownership side of retail, she’s as enthusiastic as ever. She speaks about SOHO with an air of gratitude, excited to see the store continue to grow, while still satisfying the existing customer base.
She hopes current and new shoppers will come see the “updated” shop. Shoppers have actually been her priority long before she bought the store. Leslie was an apparel studies major at the U of A and spent several years in the fashion industry – first at Mason’s, then at BCBG. Even in high school (yes, I remember!) she always dressed to impress and had the best hair.
When dressing herself, Leslie loves to be feminine but also comfortable. She likes an outfit (like a maxi dress) that takes her from low-key to dressy by the switch of a shoe or the addition of a blazer. But she admits, “nothing can beat a good pair of jeans”. Like most of us, Leslie is ready for spring. Drawing inspiration from magazines and stylish people everywhere, she’s stocked SOHO with color and prints. She’s especially looking forward to helping her customers find those transitional pieces (like the Ella Moss pant or the BB Dakota blazer I chose) to refresh their wardrobe. See the latest from SOHO on facebook & instagram.