Today’s interview is with Elyse Walker – owner and founder of the fantastic store (which I’m sure many of you have visited, either in person or online) – Elyse Walker. I am a huge fan of Elyse’s store, and have always been able to find unique items that never would have crossed by path otherwise. I was very happy to have the opportunity to interview Elyse, and ask her some more questions about her store, favorite items, and style advice learned over the years. Enjoy meeting Elyse!
Who are you? What do you do, and where do you live?
I’m Elyse Walker – a boutique owner, stylist, buyer and shoe designer and I live in Venice, CA
You have a very cool job and fly all over the world to buy for your store. What are the best parts of this process…and maybe some of the worst?
The best part is that I communicate with my clients 24/7 and send them pictures right from the runway and get their feedback – know what they like. Some of my clients have become my friends for life – I’m lucky.
The worst part of the process is jet lag!
Any funny stories that you can share?
Funny story… we were checking in to the W Hotel and the doorman (in a Brooklyn accent) asked me where my daughter was… well, it wasn’t my daughter, it was one of my buyers! I’m not even sure that I am old enough to be her mother…and I only have sons!
What are some of the favorite items in your shop right now?
Rag and Bone Sheffield denim, Enza Costa ribbed tank tops, BSable high low sweatshirts (no one buys just one), Jean Paul Gaultier architectural blazer, Givenchy sweaters, and Valentino biker boots…AND of course the espadrilles from my new line, Elyse Walker Los Angeles.
What about some of your favorite items of all item? Do you buy multiples?
I always buy multiples of the same item! I am a firm believer in buying what fits well. If I like a blazer and it fits me well I get it in every color- and I wear it. Same with bags…I will have a bag in every color. For ex: when Balenciaga made the tote in python I bought it in all 3 colors (every color they made it in).
What’s a piece of advice about style and building the perfect closet that you can share?
Trends are just suggestions. Don’t buy into a trend that doesn’t call your name or that isn’t flattering – let it go – another one is right around the corner. Because of that, I have pieces that have been in my closet for years. They may have been trendy at one time but they are classic.
Many of the items in your shop are beautiful designer pieces, with a luxury price tag. What would your advice be for someone just starting out…with a smaller budget? Where should they “invest” their money, where should they skimp?
We have a casual store and the great thing about the casuals is that we also have all of the knowledge of what is coming into the designer store. For example, Helmut Lang, IRO and Theyskens Theory – they do a great job of following the couture trends and sometimes they are more affordable and wearable than the high, high end.
If that’s not in your budget, supplement with pieces from Zara- they do it right. You can save when it comes to denim, t-shirts and basics but make the investment in blazers, great jackets and shoes AND don’t buy a copy of a handbag – EVER!
via Jana Williams Photography
What have been some major lessons you’ve learned over the years about operating your store? Anything that would surprise people?
It might seem obvious but honesty goes so far – if you are not honest with your customers, you will never see them again. You have to think long term and build a business in retail – tell your customer the truth – you sell more telling someone when it doesn’t flatter them.
What are some preconceptions about the Los Angeles fashion scene that you think aren’t true..and that are? What designers do particularly well in LA, that consistently sell through in your store?
People think all LA girls wear are Uggs and flip flops with their messy beach hair. Not true! LA girls can dress up and can be in any city in the world! The designers that do particularly well in LA and sell through in my store are: Isabel Marant everything, Anthony Vacarallo, Rag and Bone denim, 360 Sweaters, Balenciaga handbags, and BSable faux fur.
I love your home decor. What are some of your favorite pieces in your house?
Anything Damien Hirst and RETNA. I love art! If I could fill every crevice with art, I’d be a happy girl.
What are some of your other passions and hobbies?
I love to entertain, whale watching in Mexico.
I love a bottle of rose in the afternoon with lunch – Sunday only! And I love SoulCycle and exercising.
Finally…please share something surprising about yourself!
I am a tom boy, not a fashionista. I am a total team player. I love business and numbers.