Source: The Adover Townsman
Michelle Gilbert grew up in Andover, but she always dreamed of working in fashion, living in New York City, and one day owning her own business.
Since graduating from Andover High School in 2006, she's done all that, and more.
That year, Gilbert pursued her love of fashion and attended Indiana University where she studied Apparel Merchandising, Business and Fashion Design, and throughout her college career gained experience by working at Aldo and Nordstrom at the Burlington Mall in the summer. Gilbert also interned in New York City, where she eventually moved and worked for seven years in wholesale for luxury brands including Salvatore Ferragamo, LVMH for Emilio Pucci, MaxMara, and Kering with Bottega Veneta. Clients Gilbert worked with while in New York City include Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman, Barneys, Saks 5th Avenue, Bloomingdales, Nordstrom, and Holt Renfrew.
As she approached her 30th birthday, however, Gilbert realized that it was time to pursue her next dream: opening up her own shop. Gilbert wrote a business plan, moved back home to Andover to live with her parents, and in November 2017 launched the website for Shop Hey Chick, an online shop that offers affordable clothes with a luxury feel for millennial women. Everything on her website, except for a $125 coat, is under $100.
"Shop Hey Chick is a mix between that inexpensive price point, but feels like a luxury store," Gilbert said.
Her website also features "real women" as models to illustrate what her clothes look like on a variety of body types.
Only a few weeks after launching her website, Gilbert teamed up with an old classmate from Andover High, Michael Lamanga, to hold a pop-up shop Black Friday event at a friend's farm house on Reservation Road. Lamanga is the founder of Long Wharf Supply Company, which sells high-quality goods inspired by Lamanga's childhood of growing up by the sea. The pair have been friends since the fifth grade, and Gilbert says it has been a comfort to have a former classmate going through the same thing.
"Starting your own business isn't easy," Gilbert said. "It's always nice to know someone is in the same situation."
On April 6, Gilbert took Shop Hey Chick to the next level and opened a Pop-Up Shop at the Burlington Mall. The pop-up Shop Hey Chick location will be open through May 6.
"I just wanted it to be happy and feminine," Gilbert said of her shop. "A shop you want to go in, check out, and see. I want Shop Hey Chick to be a brand people have a positive experience at and want to be a part of the culture of Shop Hey Chick."
Gilbert says her shop is very pink, with a flower wall for customers to take photos and Instagram their experience.
"Pink is a happy color," Gilbert said. "That's kind of the vibe of the store."
Making Shop Hey Chick an Instagram destination for millennials has played a large role in Gilbert's business plan.
"The idea of a pop-up shop is to be super Instagram-able," Gilbert said. "Millennials like things that make them smile and happy. It's not the old school way of shopping. It's an event, it's more fun and exciting--an experience."
"Millennial shop differently than generations above them," Gilbert added. "They are super Instagram driven, savvy shoppers. They don't want to spend a lot on something they are going to wear for a picture, or a few pictures."
Gilbert says customer service is also an integral part of the Shop Hey Chick brand, and that she learned a lot from her experience working at Nordstrom and Aldo.
"I would like to see it become a brand people want to keep shopping at and expand to offer not just clothes for millennial women," Gilbert said. "I like helping people look and feel good. If I could help everyone that would be great."
Gilbert says she has worked hard to make Shop Hey Chick's website a reliable, honest place for millennial women to purchase clothing because from her own experience she knows what it is like to order something online that was not the same quality as what she thought she was purchasing.
The name for Shop Hey Chick was inspired by Gilbert's grandfather, who owned his own sports merchandising and pizza businesses over the years. Her grandfather's pet name for her grandmother was 'chick.'
"I just thought that was cute," Gilbert said of the pet name.
Gilbert is currently looking into future opportunities to open up another pop-up store over the summer.
For more information go to shopheychick.com or @shopheychick on Instagram.