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.
Nancy Martin has created something wonderful. That something is a slim-fitting pencil skirt for the gal on the go. The skirt can be wadded up, tossed about, even stuffed in a plastic bag then pulled out and worn again…Can it be true?
Nancy Martin is an attorney as well as one of a handful of fashion designers living in Northwest Arkansas. She conceptualized her skirt operation (aka NA Martin) in January of 2012 and took the line to production in June of the same year. Amazing turnaround, right? Nancy is a lovely lady with a timeless look. I don’t know her well enough to say whether it’s her enormously chic eyewear or her gorgeous hair. Nancy is svelte, poised and polished. She describes her personal aesthetic as “the classic prep look with a twist of counter-culture.” She craves contrast in her wardrobe, putting outfits together that are “simple yet elegant; a mix of the extravagant with the down to earth.” That philosophy extends beyond her attire. She prefers the juxtaposition of high end with low or rough around the edges in all things. Nancy references “a velvet chair with unfinished wood, “ as an example. But, there’s nothing rough about her or her line of pencil skirts.
She created her functional/fashionable pencil skirt to give the fashion conscious lady a “perfect basic” that could take her from the boardroom to the dining room to the bar and beyond. Nancy explains, “this skirt is designed for women of all ages who have active lives. Women who may work or volunteer during the day but need to attend a dinner or meeting at night. Women who want to be able to always count on this basic in their closet. The style is timeless and ageless because of the fit and length. “ She loves the versatility of her creation. She suggests pairing the pencil with “a mesh top with pumps, a white t-shirt with espadrilles or a starched oxford, belt and ballet flats for work.” I concur. It was with that sense of versatility and contrast that I set out to style her skirt in two ways.
Nancy goes to NYC to pick out her fabrics/materials/patterns each season and the skirts are made in the USA! This Spring/Summer look for white, cream and pink pencils with an emphasis on texture. Looking forward to Fall ’14, the pencils will be dark gray, ottoman and olive with a quilted texture.
Klothe Bentonville, AR
Town & Country Fayetteville, AR
Grand on Oak Conway, AR
Women’s Exchange St. Louis, MO
Nancy on her inspirations: I have always loved fashion and art. I grew up with lots of art in our home and with an appreciation of art and music. I love to look at the photos in fashion magazines and create my look from them. I love to travel and do so whenever I can. I think there is no better way to be inspired. Every time I come back from a vacation, I see the world differently and with new enthusiasm. One of my favorite models is Kate Moss. For me she has the look, versatility and body in which to wear anything.
I truly enjoyed styling the #nampencil skirt and working with Nancy. There’s something incredible about borrowing an item from the actual designer. I think the future looks bright for this jack-of-all-skirts; NA Martin has set the bar high & tight. – The Window Shopper
Clockwise from top: 1. Grey Dog by MGB Photo; 2. Mayapple Salon by Celi Birke for NWAFW, 3. Mertins/Lola by MGB Photo for NWAFW; 4. Vintage from personal collection by Darcy Munoz for Hello Luvvy; 5. Grey Dog by MGB Photo; 6. Mayapple by MGB Photo for NWAFW; 7. Black Cherry Vintage by Leea Lee; 8. Savoir Faire by MGB Photo for NWAFW
All personally styled by The Window Shopper. In 1,3,5-6,8: MU Kory Tyler Simpson / Hair Guillotine Hair Lounge. In 2, MU/Hair by Mayapple Salon.
Dress – thrifted
Booties – go jane
Sunnies – vintage
Bag – vintage
Necklace – DIY