NWAFW: E. Leigh’s, The New Girl in Town

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Erin, before the launch of her first store in 2012

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.

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with Erin “E. Leigh” Hohnbaum outside her store in the Heights

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?

E. Leigh’s will be hitting the runway on Saturday, March 8th. Keep up with Erin & her fabulous trio of stores on facebook & instagram.

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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)

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Q & A with Erin
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Erin Hohnbaum

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!

What We Wore: Polka Dots & Seersucker

what we wore: seersucker suit – bespoke vintage, shoes – asos, bow tie – handmade by my grandma, shirt – banana republic, dress – vintage christian lacroix via cheap thrills, platforms – jeffrey campbell (also wore them on my wedding day!), earrings – vintage from mae’s, cocktail ring – kate spade, clutch – tj maxx

A couple of weeks ago, Ro and I went to New Orleans for the wedding of a friend. I knew it would be a chic affair so the outfit planning began months ago.
On Ro: My mom found this seersucker suit at a thrift store and bought it for one of my brothers. They were not interested so she gave it to Ro. Coincidentally, it fit him beautifully. I learned how to tie a bow tie for the occasion so that he could wear one of my papa’s (my grandma made a bow tie to match every dress).

On me: I found this dress by accident at cheap thrills. Harriet (the proprietor) was showing me a full length leopard fur in the back room and I spied this adorable polka dot number. I asked about it and she said it wasn’t exactly for sale but she’d lend it to me. I tried it on and we both agreed that I had to have it. So, out of the goodness of her heart, she sold it to me.
We had a fabulous time.

What I Wore: Paisley

what I wore: dress – willie’s influence thrifted from potter’s house, heels – jessica simpson, necklace – kate spade, watch – bcbg, bracelets – vintage, gifted & house of harlow, rings – forever21 & mae’s
This shoulder-padded, floral, paisley, draped, harem concoction was around $3. So, you know, I was all over that.

What I Wore: White Eyelet

what I wore: dress – vintage laura ashley from cheap thrills, heels – go jane, earrings – vintage from mae’s, watch – bcbg, bangle – kate spade
I love this dress. It has such a lovely fit. It’s also see-thru so you can wear a white slip underneath or black for a cold weather look (seen here). I’m also looking forward to wearing it over a swimsuit this summer. Excuse my photo-op location!

What I Wore: Peachy Keen

what I wore: dress & belt – vintage from grey dog, heels – kelsi dagger, collar – urban outfitters, earrings – kate spade, watch & bangle – asos, necklace – vintage

Sometimes an ensemble looks best without too much extra and other times it begs for accessories. This was one of those times. I love any excuse to utilize my rose gold and am always clamoring for more. All in all, a quintessential spring look.