Take a lovely home, add an eclectic mix of curated fashion, invite all your friends, and you have a new Charlotte retail experience. Call it a domestic pop-up, or a personal trunk show; the coined name of this fanciful way to shop is yet to come.
Alex Holleman may have held the pre-trend kickoff back in 2015, a two-hour evening house party featuring the upscale Aerin lifestyle brand of Aerin Lauder of the Lauder cosmetic empire. Co-editor of “The Scout Guide Charlotte,” Holleman met Lauder when she engaged her as a speaker for the Mint Museum Auxiliary.
“I have a good number of friends who don’t feel comfortable shopping online,” says Holleman. “We were able to bring a new offering to Charlotte. She isn’t local, but we made her local.” She estimates 80 to 90 people visited her home that night.
Last October, Windy O’Connor hosted a home sale, offering her own abstract paintings as well her line of personally designed fabrics and pillows. She was joined by Mary Beth Paulson, who owns Raleigh’s House of Landor, a purveyor of high-end, barely worn dresses and other gems from the ’60s and ’70s that run $150 to $300. A third vendor was Found collection, a company owned by O’Connor’s friend Christi Pringle and Pringle’s sister, Tracy Dart. Their treasures include Haitian-made jewelry and handwoven purses from Colombia.
O’Connor advertised the event via Instagram and sent email to a large group. The two-day sale took place midweek, and “it was packed,” says O’Connor. “I sold a ton of art. It was very successful.”
In December, Charlotte stylist Whitley Adkins Hamlin organized a three-vendor event. Hamlin, who calls her business The Queen City Style, envisioned not trends but pieces for the serious fashion lover, and liked the idea of an intimate setting. “Style is as much about good manners and hospitality as it is about clothes and shoes,” she says.
Hamlin’s friend Pam Stowe offered her home for an event. “She’s such a draw,” says Hamlin.
First vendor on board was Paulson, of House of Landor. Next, Laryn Adams, who owned ChezElle Boutique in Charlotte but planned to start selling without a storefront, signed on. Hamlin had used Adams’ jewelry for clients and editorial work (and dubs her “one of the greatest fashion VIPs” in town). Third was Hallie Eban, who makes necklaces out of rudreska beads (piet jac designs), and had reached out to Hamlin via Instagram to seek advice. Hamlin introduced Eban to Stowe, who, it turned out, had a backyard that connected to that of a childhood friend of Eban’s.
The one-day show, announced via social media and email, took place on a Wednesday from noon to 8 p.m., with snacks and wine. “People showed up 45 minutes early, and were there until the last minute,” says Paulson. A reprise is slated this month, again announced on social media, with Arzberger Stationers added to the mix.
“What’s attractive about Charlotte is the market,” says Paulson. “Women are very fashionable. People seem really interested in trying something new. People follow me on Instagram so they knew what to expect from me, but I didn’t know what to expect from them.”