What’s a Hip Zephyr? On Phinney Ridge, it’s a women’s clothing shop that functions like an episode of What Not to Wear, except that the emphasis is on what you should wear. Elsewhere, it might be a with-it lily, a cool Greek god, or a savvy marshmallow-based candy consumed in Latvia. Here, Dana Smith and Jessica Clark of the neighborhood boutique talk about flattering shapes and runaway signage.
WWW: What song is playing on Hip Zephyr’s sound system right now?
Smith and Clark: ‘Hot Cold’ by Basement Jaxx
What was your first job in retail? What did you love or hate about it and how does it compare to what you do now?
Smith: I am a full-time nurse, and prior to opening Hip Zephyr four years ago, I hadn’t worked retail. I have always had a passion for all things fashion, and came from a business-oriented family, which led me to follow my dream and open the store.
Clark: My first retail job was as a sales girl in a small boutique in San Francisco, 14 years ago. I fell in love with helping women feel confident and beautiful back then, and I love it just as much today. The difference between what I did then and what I do now is that in addition to establishing relationships with customers, I now have my hands in all other aspects of the business from merchandising to buying to business maintenance.
What’s your favorite thing in the store right now?
Smith: My favorite thing in the store right now is our Love Heals Jewelry. Love Heals is a small, family-owned company out of Northern California that crafts gorgeous, one-of-a-kind pieces using precious and semi-precious stones and vintage charms. I love that they’re socially conscious, planting 10 trees for every necklace sold. And the long necklaces we currently have in from them look great with tunic tops and skinny jeans.
Clark: The piece I’m coveting right now is our June Leather puffer vest. It’s made of buttery soft leather, filled with goose down and lined with pretty printed silk. It features an elasticized waist band that pulls it in through the mid-section, creating a flattering hourglass shape – and it has a built in cell phone pocket on the inside.
Where do you shop when you’re not at your store?
Clark: I love trolling around Seattle’s never-ending supply of thrift and vintage shops. There is just something about finding special, unique pieces that no one else is wearing that makes me smile on the inside!
What specific store or type of store do you feel is missing from Seattle’s shopping scene?
We think every neighborhood needs a store like Hip Zephyr that carries high-quality, fashion forward styles that can’t readily be found elsewhere in the city and offers top-notch fashion consulting.
What’s the weirdest thing that’s ever happened in your store?
The sandwich board that we keep on the sidewalk outside has been stolen five times in the past four years…and it always comes back to us! Twice it ventured down to Greenlake — which wound up being fantastic advertising!! — and most recently it turned up on the roof of a church in North Seattle!