Elmwood is in store for a boost in European shopping flair. Josephine Zagarella is planning on opening a lingerie and accessories boutique that will brandish premium and luxury lines, and she’s got a good reason for doing it. “I do a lot of traveling, and these are the lines that I love. The items that I am carrying are mainly European, with a couple of American lines also represented. It’s time that Buffalo had something like this… something chic, yet classic, with high quality. I want to create a luxurious shopping experience on Elmwood. I am personally curating all of the lines, which Europeans take for granted. I want to bring this type of shopping to Buffalo.”
Josephine wasn’t always in the fashion industry. In fact, this is something new to her. She has a background in banking and finance, and her other ‘day job’ is as a lecturer in the Business Department at Buffalo State. After being a professional for 17 years, Josephine is ready to play. “I have a bit of a Peter Pan Complex,” she told me. “I want to work for myself. I spend my time rehabbing old properties – it’s a hobby. I’ve been looking for a location like this (814 Elmwood Avenue) for a couple of years. It’s the former D’Avolio building. One day I walked in to buy some olive oil and vinegar (she’s also a good cook) and I spoke to the sales person, who I knew, and told her that I was looking to purchase a building for a new shop. She ended up passing along my information to the building owner. So I ended up walking in to buy olive oil and vinegar, and walked out with a building.”
Upon walking into the storefront earlier today, I was struck by the voluminous amount of “pink”. “It’s funny,” Josephine responded, when I asked her about the color choice. “Pink was always my least favorite color. But ‘pink’ follows me. It’s a color that makes sense to me right now. After taking a gander at the shop (still under construction), we decided to take a stroll down Elmwood, where we ended up sitting at a patio, to discuss her vision over a tequila (her favorite drink). “I’ve been wearing this stuff for years,” she exclaimed, as she placed her luminous pink handbag down on the table. “I love shopping in Europe and New York City, and I want to bring that same shopping experience to Buffalo. I know that shopping online is hurting a lot of retailers, but I believe that the brick and mortar helps to build a community. I love fashion and lingerie, and I feel that everything that I am working on is like ‘living the Buffalo dream'”.
Don’t let the idea of luxurious shopping scare you. Jolie Jolie will not be an élite shopping experience, rather it will one that empowers Buffalo gals. Being a Buffalo gal herself, Josephine believes that women will gravitate to the boutique once they see the designs and feel the fabrics. According to Jolie, there will be a ranges of price points, with bras starting at $50, and going up to $100. Brands include Addiction, Audelle, Anita, Cosabella, Felina & Paramour, and Passionata. “The difference between American women and European women is that European women treat themselves,” said Josephine. “It’s the norm. I’ve studied shopping habits. Americans are much more consumerists, and continue to buy items that might wear out year after year. The products that I will be carrying are made with quality and will last. They will also fit better, and look better. I plan on offering custom fittings while the store is open (bra fittings and style consultations), and after hours by special appointment.”
Josephine’s is passionate and excited about her new business. She has gutted the interior of the shop, and ‘pinkefied’ the exterior, hoping that the eye-catching color will attract customers to venture upstairs (it’s a small walk-up). Once inside, shoppers will find bras, panties, leggings, hosiery and sleepwear. Eventually she will carry some other items, such as maxi dresses. “I’m also carrying beautiful maternity bras, and post mastectomy bras, which are hard to find. These types of items are so often overlooked, and often look matronly. Every woman should feel good about what they are wearing underneath. I want women to find clothing that fits their personalities. I will even have underwear that ‘holds things back’ after having a baby. This is the norm in Europe – it’s no different than a waste trainer, but my line is both functional and attractive. It helps the body get back into shape quicker. These are things that Americans don’t think about typically, but they should.”
Jolie Jolie will be a welcome addition to Elmwood Avenue. As Buffalo continues to grow up, so will the shopping experiences. Josephine hopes that all sorts of women will gravitate to this new intimates boutique, because she wants everyone to feel like they are being pampered and empowered. In the end, consider her your personal shopper, who is ready to outfit you with an assortment of items that will make you feel as if you just got back from a European shopping excursion. Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?
Before exiting the patio, Josephine told me that her boutique would be opening on Friday, October 13. “13 is a lucky number in Italy!” Jolie called back to me, as she headed down the Elmwood strip, sporting her ultra pink handbag.