Travis Querec and Adria Saracino of The Emerald Closet design wardrobes that are stylish, affordable, and local. With street style features—like Adria's snaps of Fashion's Night Out street style last year—and inspirational how-to's, the duo has transformed what began as a simple style blog into a city-smart, walk-in closet, complete with a stylist and personal shopper. And now with a new Nordstrom collaboration that will allow Querec, Saracino, and other bloggers to help followers implement the inspiration, the city's closet is getting a whole lot bigger. We talked to Saracino about living and styling online.
WWW: Your personal geography, please. Where were you born and raised, and where are you currently living?
Saracino: Travis and I are both originally from New Jersey but now live in Seattle. I'm from Fremont, and Travis and his family are in Ballard. We get a lot of questions whether we’re husband and wife—we’re actually in-laws.
Your personal style in three words:
Saracino: minimalist, effortless, (a touch) androgynous. Querec: tailored, layered, polished.
Assuming your blog doesn’t pay the bills, what do you do in order to pay the wireless bill and buy new clothes?
Travis works at Microsoft as a lead programmer, managing a team of software engineers. I work in online marketing for Distilled, a boutique agency, where I'm in charge of managing an Outreach Team and responsible for developing content and PR strategies.
Your blogging timeline: Is this your first? What, if anything, came before?
This is our first blog, but definitely not our first time working in fashion. I come from a graphic design, marketing, and photography background, having been an art director for numerous magazines revolving around fashion and health. I also attended an intensive fashion photography program in London under professional photographer Jeffrey Licata. Aside from hands-on experience with the artistic side of fashion, I've also worked in retail for most of my professional life, ranging from stores like J.Crew to high-end lingerie boutiques. While in retail I became a personal shopper, helping clients define their style. This experience, combined with my experience with styling photo shoots, sparked the idea to add personal shopping and styling services to the Emerald Closet, which we are preparing to roll out into a full-fledged business in the next couple of years.
What was the voice inside your head saying as you were first imagining this blog?
Despite a journalism background, we always focused on print. It wasn't until I found myself in the world of online marketing that the reality of blogs and online communities really started to stick out. The voice was basically saying: "This is a great outlet for affecting change in people's lives." We knew we had the chops because we were always the go-to people among our peers for fashion advice, so we wanted an outlet to explore that...one that didn't require the monetary commitments of starting a print publication.
What’s the hardest thing in terms of blogging about style in Seattle?
1) Blogging is in itself difficult. It's a full full-time job. There can always be something more to do, always a way to be better. So we find the hardest part is just finding time to implement all our big ideas.
2) Aside from finding the time, the hardest part is finding those quirky people whose street style inspires us. It's out there, but because of a lack of time and a smaller population, it's harder to find. We're used to NYC where fashion oozes in every crevasse. It's much more subtle here, but it makes finding it all the more special. When we do find it, our only other roadblock is getting the shot. People are a lot more self-conscious here and less accustomed to people photographing them on the street. In other cities, confidence is really easy to capture on film, but here it is a bit more of a challenge. However, we're able to learn more about our subjects because we talk to them to make them feel more comfortable, so there's always a grass-is-greener effect regardless of the situation.
What’s the best thing in terms of blogging about style in Seattle?
The fashion scene is much more intimate here. It's approachable and much less overwhelming. Back East the fashion scene can be extremely daunting and victim to a "class system;" but here, you really can dive into all that the city has to offer. The bloggers know each other, vendors welcome most people to their events, and you could actually visit all the stores here, if you tried. Plus, the secondhand scene here is quite good. It is very difficult to find affordable secondhand or vintage fashion in Manhattan; you need to go to Brooklyn and other boroughs to find those gems. We're lucky that interesting finds are everywhere here, where the thrill of the hunt is still present but the possibility of finding something gorgeous exists, too...no needle-in-the-haystack effect here!
One blog that no one knows about that everyone should read:
We actually highlighted 38 fashion blogs everyone should be following. To be honest we've moved a bit away from blogs recently and have been geeking out over a few different Pinterest users. We really like Kyle Newton because he covers fashion, interiors, graphic design, and more. He's fabulous. We also really like Danny Roberts for avant garde inspiration. He has an amazing eye for beauty.
What do you want to do more of on your blog? What’s keeping you from doing it?
What DON'T we want to do! Again the problem is finding time, as we both work in very intense environments that surpass the typical 9 to 5 experience. We highlight some of our goals every year in our anniversary posts, but some of the big ones are rolling out a full-fledge personal shopping and styling business, forming and sticking to a solid social media strategy, and amping up the frequency of posts. We've toyed with hiring interns and bringing on more voices, but we have extremely high standards making it hard for us to trust new chefs in the kitchen. It's hard to let go of something you started from the ground up!
Are there any new projects in the works for your blog?
We're always pursuing different partnerships with brands that we admire. Right now we're working with Nordstrom's new style cards feature, currently in Beta. It allows bloggers to curate items from its store so readers can actually find the items they feature in their looks. We always try to be transparent where we've bought things, but "thrifted" isn't always a helpful answer. We're excited about what this could bring to the table! We can't talk about any other partnerships right now, but you can expect more giveaways and reviews of artisan designer wares in the months to come.