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Shen Dove Style: Shop Profile: Aoki Boutique

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Shop Profile: Aoki Boutique

Aoki Boutique owner, Alina//the front of Aoki Boutique

I really enjoy supporting local business owners, so when I stumbled into Aoki Boutique recently while walking in Center City Philly, I knew I had to ask Aoki Boutique owner Alina for an interview.  So now to the interview!

Shen Dove: When did you open Aoki Boutique? And what is the story behind the name? 

Alina: I opened Aoki Boutique in April 2012, so I actually just celebrated my One Year Anniversary! Aoki is a Japanese surname that literally means "blue tree."  It's actually the name of my cat, though, who is sort of my muse. I was living in Tokyo when she entered my life, and she's very quirky, adventurous, and sweet, just like the ideal Aoki Boutique customer!

Shen Dove: Tell me about your professional background, what inspired you to open this boutique? 

Alina: My professional and educational background is in tourism and hospitality; that's what I studied in college, and the industry in which I worked until I opened Aoki. I've always been passionate about hotels and restaurants from a design and ambiance perspective. I love the notion of created memorable spaces and experiences for people, and not only providing them with a tangible product, but also with a warm and inviting atmosphere. My love of travel and the excitement and adventure that comes with led me to view women as citizens of the world, and motivated me to create a space for them where they can play around with their look and practice radical self-expression.

Shen Dove: What do you like the most about being located in Center City? 

Alina: As the name suggests, Center City is obviously very centrally-located, so it's accessible for people, and kind of the hub of action in the city. I love being within Center City but slightly off the beaten path; I like to think that it makes Aoki feel like a little hidden treasure, and that way I'm also not directly competing with the Rittenhouse Square-area retailers, nor am I paying the exorbitant rent that would come along with it. I'm the only retailer within a few blocks, which offers me an advantage, while I'm still able to benefit from some of the spillover foot traffic from Rittenhouse...so it's kind of the best of both worlds!

Aoki Boutique's unique interiors and products

Shen Dove: What do you think makes style in Philly unique? 

Alina: Philly style (and the whole vibe of the city in general) represents a lot of dichotomies and contradictions; on one hand it's very historical and all the academia brings a little more of a preppy and conservative side, but on the other hand it's a very gritty, DIY city filled with a lot of young creative types that take their cues from street style and subcultures. I see more risk-taking and, obviously, designer wear when I'm in NYC, but Philly fashionistas know what works for them and are really savvy buyers who know how to work a budget.

Shen Dove: What do you look for when you’re on the hunt for products and designers to feature in your boutique? 

Alina: I pretty much buy items that I personally would wear or love to own, and just hope that it translates. I stock everything from novelty erasers to dresses by up-and-coming clothing designers, so I have to be careful that the collection doesn't go from quirky and eclectic to altogether random. I do that by buying a mix of items that are all consistent in the story that they tell and the aesthetic that they work to create. I curate very carefully to create a particular look and feel, while making sure that the price point stays accessible (currently my priciest item is $180, and it never really goes much beyond that).

Shen Dove: What trends are you excited about featuring in your boutique this summer? 

Alina: Summer trends that I'm excited about include pastels, body con, and black/white. In terms of silhouette, I'm glad to see the continuation of peplum and hi-low, which are both fun and flirty.

Books and candles galore near the entrance of Aoki Boutique

Shen Dove: Do you have any fun events you’d like locals or those visiting Philly this spring or summer to attend at your boutique? 

Alina: I just had a big event two weeks ago for my anniversary party, so I may not do another big party until June, when I tentatively have a First Friday-type event planned. Check the Aoki Facebook and Tumblr in the coming weeks for updates!

Shen Dove: Thanks for the interview Alina!  If you haven't already, stop by Aoki Boutique and pick up a cute item sometime soon! I know I will definitely be back soon.

Store: Aoki Boutique
Location/Neighborhood: 115 S. 22nd St/Center City
Hours: Tue-Fri – 11:00am to 7:00pm Sat-Sun – 11:00am to 5:00pm Mon – Closed
Website: www.aokiboutique.com

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5 Comments:

At April 24, 2013 at 12:47 PM , Anonymous Oh to Be a Muse said...

I love how they display items like the bicycle rack and the deer horns. I wonder if you can buy those along with the jewelry that's on display.

Oh to Be a Muse
Shop Layered Muse

 
At April 24, 2013 at 3:42 PM , Anonymous kiesh said...

very nice! i will have to check this place out.

 
At April 24, 2013 at 5:36 PM , Anonymous ShenDove said...

Hmm good question! I didn't think to ask.

 
At April 24, 2013 at 5:36 PM , Anonymous ShenDove said...

Cool! I think you'd like it.

 
At April 24, 2013 at 7:56 PM , Anonymous Emily Tharp said...

Awesome! I am definitely checking them out. Nice meeting you last night too! :)

 

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