Golden Blog x The Vale: An Exclusive Interview With The Shop's Founder
Sun’s shining, skirts are flowing and Golden girls are shopping – at The Vale, this Sunday!
In preparation for our upcoming Sip & Shop with the eclectic international boutique, we’ve decided to give you gals a peak inside the fabulous life of The Vale’s bubbly British founder, Stephanie McDermott.
Trust us, after reading this, we guarantee you’ll love her and her shop as much as we do.
Tell us a little about the vision you had when opening The Vale.
The street I grew up in Chelsea was called The Vale. My parents still live there and so when I started the shop my idea was to bring a little piece of England with me, a sort of home away from home. That was my attempt with the garden as well, to give it a classic British vibe, a British sensibility.
In the beginning, how did you choose what kind of brands/pieces you wanted to feature?
We started with many British brands, but the shipping turned out to be too costly and so we moved on to Australian brands, which is what we now primarily carry. It’s really great because we have a few very small Australian brands that people don’t necessarily know about in the U.S. and so when they see them they are fascinated.
Did you know, before you moved here, how you wanted the shop to evolve, and what your audience would be?
Before this, I had never worked in retail before (my background was in PR, social media and fashion photography) but from the start I knew exactly what I wanted for this shop. I didn’t want it to be vastly over-the-top, vastly overpriced. I wanted a boutique that offered nice, pretty things for the girl who has six weddings to go to over the summer and doesn’t want to break her wallet buying cute outfits. It’s not always easy to buy a dress under $150 and be really happy with it. I know that from personal experience, and that is what I wanted to offer my girl.
Was it always your goal to make the shop more of an international boutique?
I definitely knew I didn’t want American brands, especially because for the price range we are going for, I didn’t want to have to compete with something like ASOS or Revolve, I wanted it to be very unique to the area. Williamsburg right now is in such a time of flux. It used to be a very downtown, artsy neighborhood with people who couldn’t afford many luxuries, but now it’s completely changed and there are boutiques that reach the price points of European couture brands. So due to the change in demographic, the attitude of shoppers has certainly changed as well. People that shop and live around here want to go on fancy vacations and live in nice, elegant apartments, but their attitude towards spending on clothes hasn’t really changed. They enjoy a higher standard of living but they also realize the value of things, and so shopping at places like Barney’s isn’t realistic or appealing to them.
I found that a lot of the shops in the area were very cute, very trendy, but extremely expensive. You know, it’s not attainable. We want people to come in and whether they’re buying a $10 necklace or a $300 handbag, they can always find something that they love and are actually able to purchase.
We also have a very quick turnaround of products. Every week we get about eight to ten new styles, so there’s always something for girls to choose from.
Do you think your London vibe translates well into the Brooklyn scene?
I think so. The part of London I lived in was actually a lot like Williamsburg. I also think– and I know some people will hate me for this – that I am a lot like the girl I am marketing to. I am the “new Williamsburg” which is why I understand the audience so well.
How is your store different from others in the area?
The Vale is not overly trendy or inaccessible, the clothes we sell is very wearable and very affordable. We definitely have some crazy more high-fashion pieces but we know that’s not what our main audience is looking for. Girls want something they can actually wear in front of their boyfriends’ parents or at nice family gatherings or to Sunday brunch.
A lot of the shops in the area are either very “Granola” or a little bit too “street” and we’re looking to be somewhere in the middle. I think the area has evolved from the artsy community it used to be, and so hopefully we’re providing what people want.
Are there any designers you’re looking forward to bringing in this summer?
There is a woman that comes to mind named Yazbukey. She does these really great plexiglass-style broaches, sunglasses etc. and we’ve carried her line before. She has a very cool capsule collection that sold super well for us last summer so I’m definitely looking forward to bringing it back very soon. It’s very niche, very artsy and really exactly what we’re looking for in terms of aesthetic.
Do you have a best-seller?
What does best for us in general is our footwear. We have this brand called London Sole (here in the U.S.). They make these very cute ballet flats that we’re excited to bring back as well.
Do you have a favorite designer, from the ones you currently carry?
We love Chiara Ferragni shoes. Pitusa – a brand I recently discovered on a trip to St. Barts – is also one of our best-sellers. Girls keep coming in saying how much they love the designs so we’ve been shipping orders and orders of them, which is so great.
What is your vision for The Vale, in terms of future plans?
We want to start bringing in vintage. We’ve been scouting shops and markets in the area and I think Williamsburg kind of calls for vintage clothing. We carried some of it when we first launched, from a friend of mine in London who has a store called Lime Green Bow. She has really cool stuff so we are working with her to kind of transform our bottom floor into a vintage boutique while keeping our top floor more cute, casual and wearable.
Stay tuned for The Vale & Golden Blog’s upcoming Sip & Shop Summer event – Sunday, June 25th at the shop’s Williamsburg location.