Last week I was scrolling through Twitter (I’m slightly addicted), and came across this Racked Philly article listing the top boutiques in Philly to follow on Instagram (I’m even more of an Instagram whore).
So I started checking out different boutiques, frolicking through their feeds, when I found something that made me stop what I was doing and say, “I need this in my life immediately slash I need to speak to whomever owns this boutique, she is my soul sister.” The image was of a plate that said, “Here’s your snack dumbass” (pure genius, am I right?) The boutique was Aoki Boutique and the owner, who I happened to have the pleasure speaking with, is Alina Alter.
This boutique is a cool girls dream, if you ask me. If you’re looking for one-of-a-kind finds or fashionable flair, this is your one stop shop. Nothing makes me happier than walking into a boutique, or even their e-commerce site, and screaming in my head, “I need it all! How can I financially make this work! Maybe I can just cut out drinking. Haha no wait, that’s just plain ol’ silly.” So yes, all drool-worthy, all things you will want to covet.
So I hope you enjoy getting to know Aoki Boutique a little bit better as much as I did.
1. How long has Aoki Boutique been around?
Aoki Boutique has been open for just over two years now!
2. How did you come up with the concept of the boutique?
I wanted to be self-employed, I wanted a women-centered business, I wanted a space that I could welcome people into, and I wanted to be able to curate a collection to share with people; all of those things provided the foundation for the boutique’s concept. Aesthetically, I just wanted the space to be happy, warm, inviting, inspiring, and for it to look and feel like stepping into your cool older sister’s closet or apartment!
3. What inspires you daily?
I’m inspired by international street style blogs like www.hel-looks.com from Finland and www.style-arena.jp/en from Japan; I’m reminded of my semester abroad in Tokyo and all the bold, outrageous, and impossibly cool outfits that I saw there! I’m also really inspired by other forms of media; movies, books, live music, you name it.
4. What made you open up Aoki in Philly?
I grew up around here, but never really imagined myself coming back to live here once I left for school. My last semester of college I was doing an externship in Florida and from there was all set to move to Arizona to do Teach For America, and was really only stopping home to attend my graduation ceremony and sort of get things in order. Long story short I had a total change of heart about what I was doing with my life and ended up not leaving again, settling back down here in Philly and starting to build a really great existence for myself here. I started to appreciate things about the city that I had missed growing up and realized what a perfect place it is to open a small business. It’s affordable, entrepreneur-friendly, and has a real DIY ethos. The independent retail scene here was and is strong and diverse, but I didn’t see anyone doing exactly what I had in mind for my store.
5. What are some of your favorite brands you carry?
My favorite in-store clothing brand at the moment is probably Three of Something, a cool up-and-coming label from Australia. My favorite jewelry vendor is Serefina, out of the Bay Area, and my favorite home goods vendor is Fishs Eddy (makers of the beloved “Here’s your snack, dumbass” plate)!
6. Describe your boutique in 3 words.
Quirky, Colorful, Whimsical.
7. Will you be carrying any new and exciting brands/products in the upcoming months?
I know it’s not even summer yet, and has barely felt like spring lately, but style-wise I’m already looking forward to fall! I’m all about yummy, cozy fall flannels, faux fur coats, vegan leather leggings, and other great layering pieces that I’m already dreaming about! Fall is definitely my favorite season to buy for, and I’ve already placed a few orders, I couldn’t resist!
8. What is next for Aoki?
I’m just continuously trying to grow my brand and expand my presence, especially online. The bread and butter of my business is through my brick and mortar location and it’s my favorite way of operating because I really get to know and interact with my customers, but it’s so important to supplement that with my e-commerce site and other online platforms. I sell directly from www.aokiboutique.com and also through a curated online marketplace called Shoptiques.com. Now that I’m in my third year of business I’m not looking to change any of the core aspects of my brand, I just want to continue to get my name out there and make sure people know that Aoki Boutique is here and what it’s all about.
9. Describe Philly fashion?
Philly fashion is as eclectic and diverse as its residents, so it can be hard to sum up. Generally it’s a mix of that conservative prep that you’re bound to see in any northeastern city, combined with that really original, DIY hipster aesthetic that you get from all the students, young professionals, and creative types living here. I wish I saw a little more risk-taking and a little less sports team-related gear, but that’s just my personal opinion. As long as people are wearing things that make sense for them and their life and are comfortable and practical, I respect and encourage that.
10. What is your advice for achieving a bad ass summer look?
It’s all about the crop top for me! Pair it with anything high-waisted to show just the slightest sliver of skin above the navel- super sexy, flirty, and keeps you cool as the temperatures rise