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!
Make-up: Kory Tyler Simpson /MAC Photos: Mallory Berry/MGB Photo Styling/Concept: Payton Bridewell/The Window Shopper
Lisa Wright opened downtown Bentonville’s Elysian Boutique at the end of 2012. In March 2013, shop moved into its current spot, conveniently located a block from Bentonville’s booming downtown square. When she initially opened, she kept her full-time dental hygienist job while her mom, who retired from WM corporate, worked the store. In the evenings, she would photograph her inventory and post on social sites. At the end of last year, Lisa decided it was finally time to give up on her dual career (as a dental hygienist) to focus on Elysian full-time. Fast-forward to today and the shop is already in the throes of a success story.
Women of all ages and incomes shop at Elysian and Lisa aims to please them all. She endeavors to remember details about everyone who shops at Elysian, she credits her customer service for shoppers returning over and over again. Lisa, and in turn Elysian, is style-focused. The shop is stocked with multi-use pieces, items that can be worn a variety of ways. I asked Lisa for her wardrobe staples and she told me “a blazer, a pencil skirt, a pair of pumps and a tunic can get you anywhere.” For Spring, she is looking forward to mixing black & white with pastels.”
So… turns out it’s really fun shopping for a wedding dress when it’s not for your wedding day. Want to play in a beautiful gown for a day and then give it back with no damage done to your pocket book? Yes, please.
I met up with Farron & Deja at the She Said Yes store in Rogers. We easily fell into conversation about fashion and weddings and dresses (oh my!). Farron told me, “Brandi opened the store after shopping for her own wedding. She realized there was nothing in the area that provided the level of customer service or selection that you could find in bigger cities. So, she left her corporate job behind and opened She Said Yes to fill that void.” And fill the void it has for nine years and counting. Since 2004 She Said Yes has helped over hundreds of brides locally and across the country to find the dress that bring them to say “yes”. But they aren’t sure how many exactly…they don’t keep count. They’re too busy focusing on the bride at hand and making sure she finds the dress of her dreams.
I went into the appointment sure that they would let me leave with a couple of formals that I could whip up a situation where I would wear a formal in my everyday life. However, Farron quickly told me that they were only showing bridal on the runway at NWAFW. So, would I be down to be a bride again? Ummmm yes!
I decided that we should find a few dresses that weren’t too bridal. But that was my only qualifier. For my own wedding, I did not want strapless, only because that’s what you see the most of. For this, no such rules. Farron & Deja took me back to the dressing rooms where there were a few gowns left over from a recent sample sale. We ooohed and ahhhed and they quickly beckoned me to strip. You get really close with anyone who helps you in or out of bridal couture – take it from me. Farron & Deja saw me completely nude within moments of our first meeting.
We found a gorgeous Anne Barge ball gown (a blush silk taffeta gown featuring a beautiful rouched drop-waist bodice that softly flows into a full skirt full of romantic pickups) that was so delightful and princess-like. We went back out into the showroom and I began gravitating toward lace. We eventually happened upon a lacy Romona Keveza (blush silk shantung fitted, with Alencion lace overlay; featuring a beautiful lace illusion sweetheart neckline and soft sweep train) that was sweet and perfect in its simplicity. I told the girls I was feeling an “I skipped my wedding because I wanted to party” vibe for the window shop and they were totally down. Seeing so many brides on the regular, they seemed to get excited about the fashion aspect as much of more than the wedding side. Speaking of the fashionable side of things, they have a very cool concept planned for NWAFW 2014. Farron said the goal is to bring the focus back to the beauty of the dress and how a bride will look in it.
Beauty by Suzannah Files for Crown Beauty Bar | Photos by Darcy Munoz for Hello Luvvy | Styling/Concept: Payton Bridewell for The Window Shopper | Flowers by Pigmint | The jewels are available for purchase at Cheap Thrills