3 Questions for Joan Shepp

Joan Shepp, founder and owner of her namesake store in Philadelphia, is on the move again.

The retailer, who opened her upscale, contemporary men’s and women’s boutique in 1971 and has relocated several times, will head this spring to the burgeoning downtown area on Chestnut Street.

Five years ago, Shepp added footwear to the mix of apparel and accessories. According to the founder, who runs the store with her daughter, Ellen Shepp, the healthy business has triggered the need for more space.

“There is a lot of growth to be had in the [Chestnut] area,” said Joan Shepp. “Philadelphia has so much creativity, and it’s a fashion city, even when people say they’ll do their shopping in New York.”

In addition to distinct floors for men’s and women’s, the new store will feature a dedicated shoe wall with a curated assortment of styles from such brands as 3.1 Phillip Lim, Y-3 and Saint Laurent.

1. What’s different about this new space?
JS:
It’s a very unusual space for us. The space is exciting and big, but it doesn’t feel like 8,400 square feet, which is important for us. In the front of the store, we’re doing our footwear and accessories. In our last store, when people saw the shoes, they were drawn in.

2. How will you grow your assortment with the bigger location?
JS:
Right now, it is an eclectic mix of clothes, accessories and lifestyle. A small part of the store will be dedicated to the fashion and design incubator in Philadelphia —[the goal is for young local designers to] learn what it means to be in fashion retail. We’re aiming to add around five new designers for women and men, and we’re also adding The Row and five Japanese designers and Belgium designers. We are always trying to give our customers new reasons to buy. For spring, we’re stocking chunkier, more comfort-driven shoes and lots of socks, which were really popular.

3. What’s the most important thing you’ve learned from working in retail?
JS:
I want to do things that aren’t just about selling something. We like building relationships. You have to listen to your client and what they want and offer great service.

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