I think anyone that has a love affair with all things fashion has at one point, dreamed of opening their own store. A perfect little space that’s beautifully curated and lovingly designed. So today we’re picking the brain of Halie Rogers – the fashionista behind Morton James in Lexington with photos by Tiffany Mitchell - to see just what kind of chops it takes to open a store of your very own.
SMP: What inspired you to open a boutique of your own?
Halie: Having lived in Nashville for the past couple of years I fell in love with the city and all it had to offer. It is filled with lots of local, thriving businesses that really seem to define the essence of Nashville. Being immersed in that atmosphere really inspired me to become a part of Lexington’s evolving community.
SMP: Tell us about your career path before openings Morton James.
Halie: I’ve been focusing on raising my 6 year old son while also studying photography. I’ve always had an entrepreneur drive so once he got old enough I started planning a business that would satisfy my creative side while still allowing me the flexibility to be the mom that I strive to be.
SMP: Tell us a few things about retail that you perhaps weren’t prepared for when you were in the “dreaming” phase.
Halie: While I knew it was going to be a lot of dedication and work, I’m not sure I knew quite how time consuming and overwhelming it was going to be. The creative aspect of owning a boutique is what really drew me into the business, but perhaps I should have taken my dad’s advice and gotten a business or accounting degree first! ha!
SMP: How do you set yourself apart in your market?
Halie: Though it’s evolving, Lexington is still a traditional, Southern city and there are a lot of great boutiques that cater to that lifestyle. After visiting other cities across the US and living in Nashville, I saw a huge void in the fashion market here. I felt like we needed an edgier, boho, casual-chic boutique for men and women, that’s more aligned with today’s modern fashion. I feel like that vision alone sets us apart as we cater to a segment of the local market that really relates to our aesthetic.
SMP: Is having good taste when it comes to fashion enough to run a successful retail store?
Halie: To be honest, I thought so- but I was wrong! Having good taste helps since you have to design an inventory that attracts clients but there’s so much more that goes into running a retail store than just that. I’m lucky to have a great friend/manager/life-saver who has extensive retail experience that’s been here from the beginning to help with every aspect of running the business. She really helps balance the work load which is a huge stress relief and it doesn’t hurt to have a friend to go through all of this with!
SMP: How do you source your collections?
Halie: We did alot of research on the lines we wanted to carry- most of which were ones that were unheard of in Lexington. We visited lots of showrooms in NYC and also went to several markets in both Atlanta and New York. We are constantly on the lookout for new lines that we think will fit our style.
SMP: What are three trends your currently loving?
Halie: Sling back booties are sure to make even the simplest outfit look great, cream colored jeans as opposed to the typical white pant and lastly, a great fitting denim top.
SMP: Who is your favorite designer right now, right this moment?
Halie: That’s a tough one to narrow down! I’m currently loving both Raquel Allegra and Mara Hoffman. Raquel Allegra produces really chic and timeless clothing so I find myself wearing a lot of her tops for almost any occasion. Mara Hoffman, on the other hand, is a great go-to line when I’m in the mood to wear bold colors and patterns. Her spring and summer designs are to die for – I can’t wait to get them in!
SMP: If you had to choose one accessory to wear every day for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Halie: Probably a pair of Melanie Auld earrings. Her whole jewelry line is simple yet colorful and modern making them all easy to wear on a daily basis.
SMP: What are 5 staples to splurge on?
Halie: A good bag, an awesome leather jacket, a pair of booties, black skinny jeans and a well made white t-shirt. All are staples that you’ll wear time and time again- season after season.
SMP: What is THE color for 2014? THE must have piece?
Halie: Black is THE color for me always. You can never go wrong. I tend to buy neutral and then layer in with accessories and textures. I’m not sure I have a specific piece that everyone must get their hands on – but I do know sheer detail or lady-like lace are both going to be huge trends in 2014 along with lots of rose gold jewelry. I’ll definitely be sporting all of the above!
SMP: What does the next five years look like for Morton James?
Halie: We are really content with where we are and with the vision that we have established. We just want to work toward growing new relationships within the community and nurturing those that already exist. We want to stay true to our mission which is essentially to provide Lexington with clothing to fit our modern day lifestyle. Who knows though, maybe you’ll see Morton James pop up in another southern city! In the meantime, we are staying focused on growing our presence here in Lexington.