Do what you love
On a Christmas morning in sixth grade, Katherine (Kaki) Johnson snuck downstairs and searched under the tree for a pair of white go-go boots which she had wished for. Finding them lying under the green needles, she yanked them on and went back to sleep.
Years later, after raising three sons, Johnson wanted to figure out a new business adventure. That may have been the easiest part for her, given her love for fashion, but it’s also one of the more important factors in starting your own business.
“I wanted to do something I was passionate about and wanted to spend hours doing,” said Johnson, a Wilton resident and co-owner of the new start-up tailoring and individual fashion business, Aplomb Clothing. She joined up with fellow fashion aficionado and friend Patty Douville, a Ridgefield resident, and started to figure out just what type of business it should be.
Find the niche
“Women over 40 are largely ignored by the media,” said Johnson, noting that most fashion media is focused on youths and women in the 20s-30s age brackets. Not only that, but a lot of women have the problem of having too many clothes without knowing how to pair them together, she said.
“What happens with a lot women,” said Johnson, “is that they go out shopping with their friends, they find one piece that they love [but then] they don’t know how to make it work in their closet.”
One of her recent clients “stands in her closet for 10 minutes, going ‘What am I going to wear, what am I going to wear?’” she said.
Understanding the client’s needs is important too; Johnson said she and her partner talk with potential customers for a while to understand their lifestyle, routine, budget and tastes.
No storefront? Work around it
The real estate market for small businesses is harsh, and the economic climate in Wilton is precarious at best. However, deciding not to get a storefront also opened up another opportunity for Aplomb Clothing.
In fact, Johnson found that it worked better to “not be partial to retailers” and clothing lines, because that would limit the myriad of clothing styles available. Johnson and Douville decided that working from the closet would work best. “If their clothes, it fits, it’s there,” said Johnson.
The partners also bring in accessories, teach their clients layering, take photographs, and figure out various wardrobes which “can be put together in five minutes,” she said.
Three piles are made: throw-out, recyclables (donations to charity) and clothes to be tailored. Tailoring clothes, Johnson said, can make a person look and feel better, by accentuating “the things you feel good about and learning how to work around the things you don’t necessarily like about yourself.” They first use clothe pins to show clients what their regular clothes could turn into, and if it works for the client, the duo take the clothes for some re-threading. Tailoring can create a kind of an “illusion,” and “a stream-lined look that enhances your body without adding bulk,” said Johnson
The end product
Since Aplomb is all about personalized style with a bit of an “edge,” the end result is a person with clothes that fit great who gains a boost of confidence, said Johnson.
“People say [to my client, that] she looks great, like she lost weight, and they don’t know what she’s done different but she looks really great. And that makes us feel good, and that’s why we’re doing this.”
While Aplomb might specialize in women over 40, they’re open to men, too—all three of Johnson’s sons and her husband regularly come to her for fashion advice, she said.
Email Aplomb at firstname.lastname@example.org and visit their website for more information at aplombstyle.com