Every so often I catch up with my fabulous fashion friend Abby Kessler, who is one half of the dynamic duo (along with Katie Loftus) behind the trendy Old City boutique Smak Parlour. Last week it was over iced coffee, and today it was via text.
There’s been a ton going on in the Smak Parlour world. There’s the brick-and-mortar location that’s filled with trendy and budget-friendly fashion goodies styled around the store’s ultra-feminine decor. Then, there’s the fashion truck, aka a “boutique on wheels.”
J: Good morning, Abby! Thanks so much for making the time!
A: Sorry I’m late! Katie [my design & business partner] and I have been mentoring a designer from the Philadelphia Fashion Incubator program—Leah Delfiner. She designs the cutest children’s dresses. She was showing me her prints she had sublimated and I got inspired! It was a beautiful moment because she started mentoring us in a way.
J: So cool! I’ve seen her work. How long have you been mentoring her?
A: About 2 years, and we have become very good friends! I had never heard of sublimation printing. It’s a new technology for this area. The coolest part is the company she found can print small runs of prints. This is huge for us. Most digital printing companies have 1,000-yard minimums. Because they print small runs, we could design and make samples for our shop. This lead us to deciding to wholesale.
J: That’s big news! I know you’ve been super busy designing. Has it been for your boutique customers in mind?
A: Yes, we design for our Smak girls! We are so lucky to have customers to show our designs to. We actually bring in our collections and let customers try on samples and give us advice. It’s so helpful. We hired reps to sell our collection. One on each coast.
J: Sounds like the perfect focus group. What have you seen your customer gravitate to in the line?
A: So far, everyone loves our new fit and flare dress for spring. It’s the perfect combo of contemporary and retro.
J: Sounds cute! Is the line mostly dresses?
A: Yes—our girl loves dresses!
J: And fun prints, too. How do you and Katie come up with your unique prints and patterns?
A: So far, we have been collaborating with local designers. We even printed some of our employees doodles—Chelsea Goich!
J: Can we shop the styles in store currently? Will they also be on the fashion truck?
A: They will be in shop and truck next week. The first delivery of the collection is the Kickstarter styles. March 30, 2015 will be the second delivery—an additional 14 designs.
J: Very exciting! How many styles can we expect to see in store next week?
A: Eight styles. We added an additional two styles after we got funded.
J: Designing is getting back to your roots. How did you and Katie decide it was time create a collection?
A: We hadn’t done one since 2010, so we were itching to design. It happened organically, with one big idea about collaborating with Joe Boruchow—we turned his famous fan lady into a print! And after we saw the print, we knew we were onto something great.
J: Okay, now a few quick, fun questions: What trends/styles are you loving this fall?
A: Fall is all about OLIVE! We can’t get enough. Also layering—simple pieces you can accessorize and add on to are key.
J: Totally agree! White after Labor Day. Yay or nay?
A: Cream would be my preference.
J: Favorite accessory you don’t leave home without?
A: For me this week, a chunky gold necklace!
J: What do you like to snack on when working?
A: Coffee. LOL
You saw it here first. Smak Parlour designs hit the store and the fashion truck next week. Don’t wait—or you might miss out.