fashion, like any other fashion scene, goes through enough trends and
changes of style to feel like the weather we're accustom to. Wait ten
minutes and someone's got a brand new “thing” for you to hang,
pierce, snag, drape, lace, cinch, stretch, grapple or slip on in some
manner to stand out and be noticed. Which makes it difficult for any
shop to claim they're on the edge of what's to come. But as far as
public opinion goes there's a particular shop near downtown that's
earned the reputation of trying the hardest to be ahead of the game, and usually
--- Up in the 9th & 9th area, just a few doors down from the historic Tower Theater, sits the fashion shop FRESH. Started less than two years ago by a pair of siblings, the shop frequently changes out its supply of both localized and national fashion in order to bring frequent variety to patrons on a nearly monthly basis. In the process they've been highly regarded by shopper and designer alike as being one of the most influential and fashion setting shops in the city, rightfully earning the name on the front door. Today we chat with the two minds behind the shop, Ian Wade and Helen Wade-Joice, about starting up the place and the work they do to stay ahead of the game, plus their thoughts on local business and fashion. Along with photos of what they had in supply as of last Saturday, which means you should probably visit soon if you like something you see before its changed out in a few weeks.
Ian Wade & Helen Wade-Joice
Gavin: Hey guys, first off, tell us a little bit about yourselves.
Helen: I have lived in SLC for over eleven years now, I graduated from the U of U in ’07 with a BS in Sociology, and I went to high school in Oregon. I’ve been snowboarding forever so I love being in the mountains. I ride bikes when it’s nice out and my husband is building up a motorcycle for me. Love my two bostons, they’re sweet.
Ian: Well I’ve lived in Salt Lake for most of my life, so I am also quite fond of the mountains. I like to travel and take pictures, my father recently gave me the Leica M3 he used in the 70’s, but my main camera is a Minolta AF-2. In the winter time I work at Brighton on the terrain park crew which gives me a nice balance of the city life and the mountains. I like going to shows at Urban Lounge and Kilby, playing pool, and riding bikes.
Gavin: How did you each first take an interest in fashion and designs?
Ian: I first got hooked while I was sponsored by Union Boardshop, (in Alpine) the owner, who now owns Surface Skis, had an amazing thing going on there. He wasn’t afraid to bring in pieces that were out of the ordinary, and he carried brands you just couldn’t find anywhere else in Utah. I would drive from sandy four days a week to hang out and see if there was anything new in. I also met one of the original owners of Zuriick there, he was a young dude that wanted to make something awesome and that was really inspiring.
Helen: Fashion and design are a part of life; they’re something I’ve always been interested in.
Gavin: Seeing how you're brother and sister, how was it growing up together and being a part of the SLC scene?
Ian: Helen and I are seven years apart so while we both have lived in Salt Lake at the same time we were always doing different things. Though we were both heavily involved in the snow scene in Salt Lake together, I remember we would go to the SLUG Games together a while back or go to the rail gardens and be dorks.
Helen: Different for each of us. I didn’t go to high school in Utah we were living in Oregon during those years for me. I was exposed to a much different culture and scene at that age then Ian was out here in SLC. We are seven years apart and have always had some common interests in snowsports , music, and style. However it was really weird to start seeing Ian at the bar. That is when I decided to hang up my going out shoes and pass the torch to him.
Gavin: Did either of you seek out any college in fashion or business prior to starting up the shop?
Helen: Well, I graduated in Sociology and Criminology and took some business courses during my College profession. I have always loved clothing and fashion in general but never did any courses in college for it.
Ian: When I got out of high school I went out to San Fran to look at different design schools, but it wasn’t right for me.
Gavin: When did the idea to start up FRESH come about, and how did you arrive on the name?
Helen: I always wanted to have my own store. When I was younger I went between a coffee house or snowboard shop… but after working in those industries I was not as excited. I have always loved fashion and felt SLC needed something new and FRESH.
Ian: I think things got started when we were both working at a shop in Cottonwood Heights and it was fun, but not very satisfying knowing that you were working for someone else. Helen got the ball rolling talking with other people about being partners in a store and once I realized she was for real I told her I was there 100%. As for the name, FRESH, it’s just simple we felt like there was no need for some pretentious name. Though I wanted to call it Diamond Dogs, I don’t know if there would have been some legal issues with that one.
Gavin: How did you come across the spot in the 9th & 9th area and why did you end up choosing it as the main location?
Helen: This was the 4th spot we looked at. 9th & 9th is a great area, it has such great support from the neighbors and other businesses. It is definitely a different vibe from downtown or anywhere in the SLC area.
Ian: 9th and 9th is a great area, our store fits right in with the vibe of the neighborhood, when the building came available we jumped on it.
Gavin: What was it like for you getting set up and essentially planning out the look and feel of the place?
Helen: Hah, it was fun, stressful, eventful, and always changing. We try to change up the shop every few months whether its displays, artwork or paint color its always being updated and staying fresh.
Ian: The store is always changing, I’ve got to say in the last six months it’s really been fine tuned. When we opened we really just got things on hangers to make it happen and now we’ve been working with our friend Ben Hanisch to make displays so the store is unique.
Gavin: You opened up in the summer of 2009. What were the first few months like, especially with how the economy was at that point?
Helen: They were terrifying, but we were learning all the time as well. When you open a shop you have the customer base in mind that you are going for, but once you open you really get to know you customers and what they are looking for. Every month since opening continues to grow and be successful for us. We have definitely changed our style a bit since we opened and we keep trying to evolve every season to bring an alternative to people’s fashion.
Gavin: What's the process like for you both in choosing brands and designers to put on display, both local and national?
Helen: We look for brands that have some integrity. We try to support local designers as much as possible but we also look for independent brands that support artist, athletes etc worldwide.
Ian: Since we opened we’ve picked up and dropped at least a dozen brands. For me I like to find brands that offer unique pieces that will be the highlight of your outfit and also the staples that will get worn in torn up and thoroughly lived in.
Gavin: For those interested, who are some of the designers and brands you have on display?
Helen: For the Ladies we have: Gentle Fawn, Mink Pink, Jack, RVCA, Element Eden, Matix, Bench, Lamixx, Obey Clothing, Insight, Brixton, Nixon Bags, and about 80% of our Jewelry is local designers. For the Men we have: Ambiguous Clothing, OBEY, Freshjive, KREW, Lifetime Collective, N4E1, Insight, Cadence, RVCA, Brixton, and more...
Gavin: At what point did you decide to expand beyond just men's and women's clothing and start incorporating an array of accessories and jewelry as bigger sections?
Helen: We are a small store so we don’t have much room to carry everything but we try to carry a prime selection of what counts.
Ian: Since day one we’ve focused on being able to get you set up head to toe. With jewelry and accessories it’s tricky, some local designers are great and keep coming back with new and interesting pieces, but some only do it for three months then they fall off. We’re really lucky to be able to work with the local talent in Salt Lake.
Gavin: Over time you've built up a reputation of being one of those stores who are on the cusp of the local fashion scene. What's your take on earning that rep and having that kind of impact on the city?
Helen: I am proud of that. Ian and I work really hard and are practically married to the store. We have sacrificed a lot in the past two years to make sure FRESH is where we want it to be.
Ian: We’ve really been focused on bringing relevant styles to Salt Lake. I think since we’re from Salt Lake we know that we experience some real harsh weather at times and great weather at other times, and also that people don’t want to spend half their rent money on a winter jacket. They want something stylish, functional, and at a good price.
Gavin: Considering all that you have to offer, are there any plans to expand into other areas like artwork or music like some stores, or are you sticking to what you have for now?
Ian: We do host monthly art shows, and we’ve have helped Scenester Siege and the W Lounge bring in shows like Theophilus London and Kid Sister. For being a little shop we try and have our toe in everything and stay as connected to the community as possible. We’ve had a lot of great shows in the past featuring highlights have been having concert posters from Travis Bone, photography from Ian Matteson, and we were lucky to have Teddy Kelly out to do some in store murals. However much we love music and art our number one priority is to bring in great clothing, shoes and accessories.
Gavin: Going local, what are your thoughts on our fashion scene, both good and bad?
Ian: The fashion scene in Salt Lake is really unique; people out here do their own thing which is nice, you don’t get the vibe that it’s a competition for best dressed at your favorite coffee shop. I’m not saying that there isn’t a scene out here. there is definitely a growing community of people that stay up on trends and are trying to keep Salt Lake up to date by throwing fashion shows and events.
Gavin: Is there anything you believe could be done to make it more prominent?
Ian: It’s hard to say, there are new magazines popping up all the time that are geared towards Salt Lake “lifestyle.” As long as the publications and local designers and shop keep working with one another to promote events the fashion scene will continue to grow.
Gavin: Who are some of your favorite local designers right now?
Helen: Melanie Brewster with Velvet Seahorse makes some of the best jewelry. She is our main Jewelry provider for FRESH and it always sells out!. Shogo Clothing has been with us since day one and he always brings a new twist to classic pieces. Velo City Bags has been making quality messenger bags for a while now and we have a constant stock of their pedal straps.
Gavin: What are your thoughts about other local retailers and how they sell local products?
Ian: There are definitely some gems out there that add a lot of character to the city. It’s always a pleasant surprise to see what people in Salt Lake can produce. It is a nice reminder that not everything is made in China.
Helen: I think it is great. I believe without them many local artists and designers may not have the chance to display their work. Local retailers and local products go hand in hand and it strengthens the community.
Gavin: Do you have any favorite shops you like to work with or shop from?
Helen: Since Ian and I are the only two people who work at FRESH and run everything it gives us little time to get out and about. We are located in such a great area so I try just to take a minute and visit the other shops on 9th & 9th and support them. We haven’t worked with any other shops but we have worked with the W Lounge in the past helping bring in acts such as Kid Sister, Theophilus London, Chiddy Bang and the Chromeo DJ Set.
Ian: We haven’t collaborated with any other shops before; we did host an art show and after party for Surface Ski’s first team video “Walks Of Life.” As for shops in Salt Lake I like finding new and used vinyl so Randy’s Records and Slowtrain are on my list of favorite shops.
Gavin: What's your take on Fashion Stroll and the part it plays in our scene?
Helen: You know we have never been a part of it. I think it is a great idea and it looks amazing. I believe it helps local stores and designers get their name out to the general public. I can’t say why we have never been a part of it, probably just a timing thing. We can only spread our selves so thin.
Ian: I honestly have never been, is that bad?
Gavin: Touching on business, how has it been for you surviving as a locally-owned business in this economy? And what advice can you give others looking to start up here in Utah?
Ian: It has been an adventure. We’re getting closer and closer to our two year mark and things have been great. We opened during a tough time and from the start we’ve had the intention of bringing in good style wouldn’t hurt your pocket, so we rarely have people turned off by price tags. Through the holidays we saw a lot of people make an effort to support local businesses, which is greatly appreciated, so as long as people keep supporting the businesses they like then we’ll keep growing. My suggestion to others looking to open a store is to know exactly what you want to do when you open, a first impression can keep someone coming back for more or never think twice about your store.. Also don’t be afraid to change, as much as your store is an extension of your personality you have to keep your customer in mind.
Gavin: What can we expect from both Fresh and yourselves over the rest of the year?
Helen: Growth, we’re really excited for spring weather! We’ve got some great orders coming in, introducing new brands, and expanding our footwear selection from casual to dressier.
Ian: We will be hosting art shows almost every month, opening nights are always really fun so “Like” us on Facebook and you’ll be able to keep up with events and new arrivals. We’ll also host bicycle sprints again this year with Todd and Cal from Salt City Sprints, we get our brands involved and raffle off some sweet stuff last year someone won a signed print from Shepard Fairey from Obey. As for the two of us, I’m looking forward to becoming an uncle, and Helen is excited for to the joys of parenthood!
Gavin: Aside the obvious, is there anything you'd like to promote or plug?
Ian: We’d like to thank all of our customers, we’re grateful to be a part of your lives even if it’s just the shirt on your back.
Helen: To stay posted on our daily happenings follow us on Facebook.
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