Tell me about the style of Emperor’s Newest Clothes!
Eclectic, girly, and fun, with lots of dresses! The number one thing I hear in here is “Ohmygod that’s so cute!” I buy what I like, and I don’t take myself too seriously - clothes should be fun!
I let people take their time and look around. I don’t want them to feel harried! I love everything in here, but do you? I’m not going to pressure people just for a sale. Customers need to love an item just as much when they get home.
When people want to walk out of the store in their new clothes, and come back years later to tell me they’re still wearing what they bought and they're still getting compliments - that’s the nicest thing!
How long have you been here?
Emperor’s Newest Clothes has been open eleven years this June! We originally opened in Grandview, and have been in the Short North for six.
Why the name “Emperor’s Newest Clothes?”
It’s a play on “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” I wanted something fun and quirky that would remind people of something and also reference clothes.
What gave you the idea?
I never dreamed I would own a boutique - I went to school to be a chiropractor! After seeing what the daily grind of that job was, though, I began to have second thoughts. I went to a headhunter, and tested into the career fields of publishing and fashion. I applied to hundreds of places and finally got into a wholesale fashion company. Every aspect - buying, designing, pricing - I got to be a part of. It was amazing how high the markups ran. I decided I wanted a business without those huge markups, a cute boutique with affordable pricing. Growing up, there wasn’t a hlot of money for clothes, but I still loved them!
How did you make it from a dream to an actual store?
At first I just had a website, and people kept asking if they could come to my store! I liked the face to face interaction the most. This was right after 9/11, and there were no business loans available at all. I put everything on my credit card. It was a huge risk, but that’s how sure I was it would work!
How do you find the pieces you feature?
Trade shows in LA and New York every six weeks. The number-one thing is style, but the piece needs to be affordable! I also supplement the store and buy pieces online every week. This keeps everything fresh.
Why Columbus, Ohio?
I went to school at OSU. It’s a great town to open a small business. It’s big enough to support [the store] without getting lost in the shuffle. Also, I felt there was an audience for this type of clothing.
What’s one thing you’re really excited to share in here?
I have a different favorite every week! Right now it’s this Eternal Classics dress by Sugarlips It’s great for 4th of July and the summer - it’s light and the blue stripes are a subtle way of being patriotic!
What DID you want to be when you grew up?
I always knew I would own a business. Playing with my siblings, I would always run some kind of shop, dig through my mom’s recipe cards and pretend I was filing. I wanted to be my own boss, but didn’t know what kind. I felt life would take me where I needed to be.
I feel incredibly happy and lucky to be doing this.
What’s one piece of advice you would give to someone who doesn’t know what they want?If you remotely like the way it looks on a hanger, try it on! Clothes are meant to be worn on a body, and will often look funny just hanging.
Anything you’d like to say to people who want to start their own business?
I’m still here. Go for it! Nobody ever dies of failure. You don’t want to be in your Forties or Fifties and wondering “Should I have tried?”
When I opened Emperor’s Newest Clothes, everythign changed. I used to be so shy and self conscious - but the store empowered me. I remember locking up at night, then just looking at the store and thinking I did this! Just me!.
I will never be rich, but I am so happy. I wake up excited, and never know what the day will bring. The people are pleasant, and I met my best friend through Emperor’s New Clothes. It may be just clothes - but when you feel good in your clothes, that feeling spreads!
It changed me to realize my full potential. It was very, very scary and stressful, but so worth the risk