I met Christen Kinard for the first time about 8 or 9 years ago. She was still Christen Green at the time and she was a fashion blogger, back when fashion blogs were pure and not a business. They weren’t about selling what you were wearing; they were merely a creative outlet for people to express and talk about their style. Christen shopped at my store when it was much smaller, on 115 South Royal Street, and asked if she could do a video interview me for her blog.
This was my first indication that she was way ahead of the curve when it came to all things social media. She was also ahead of her time when it came to style. At age 23 she had amazing style. Her take was unique and something you could not replicate even if you tried, because it was hers alone and she owned it.
A few years went by, and she tagged a few stores, including mine, via Twitter, saying she wanted to work in retail on the weekends. My husband forwarded me the tweet via email — I did not reliably know how to check twitter. I quickly called the store and asked our team who knew social media better than I did to figure out how to contact her, even if it meant smoke signals or hiring a skywriter.
I once heard the founder of White House | Black Market speak and he talked about how some people just have that gene that makes them good with people and have a knack for making them feel at ease. Christen has this gene, with plenty to spare.
Needless to say, we found her and she started working at the store part-time. Soon our professional relationship expanded when she started a social media consulting business for small businesses. She helped bring my business out of the dark ages and into social media era. Christen also helped make Alexandria Stylebook what it is today. She worked her butt off.
A few years later she decided to change paths and I would like to think it was some divine intervention, or at least the retail gods at work, and she started to manage The Shoe Hive.
To say that Christen has been committed to this business and treated it like her own would be an understatement. I will always be grateful for this.
So when she told me a few months back that she was going to leave, I was of course sad. I knew this meant I wouldn’t get to see her on a daily basis. I am fairly co-dependent — I even call her to figure out how to re-boot my computer. I also knew, however, that one day this would inevitably happen and she would be ready to move on.
Of all the many things I will miss about Christen, the thing I will miss the most is our buying trips together to New York City. Simply put, we had a blast. We always laugh about how we are cut from the same cloth when it comes to our love of clothes. We both read Vogue and see designer clothes that for a brief moment, with a squint, we actually can think will hang in our own closets. Of course, Dolce and Gabbana and Oscar de la Renta are not in our near or distant future, but we dream big.
When we would walk into new showrooms we would have a collective gasp at the beauty of some of the spaces and the rows and rows of beautiful clothing. Our sales reps would pull out a shoe or a sweater and sometimes we would start to clap and giggle like school girls. We would laugh from the time we got on the Amtrak at 6am until it pulled back in a few days later around 11pm, exhausted but reliving each appointment as we headed back to Union Station. Of course we also developed a habit of pairing wine with bad train food on our returns. It just didn’t get any better than those trips. We got to meet so many incredible people. Not only the people who own the brands, but the amazing people who worked there and fellow retailers.
As many of you know, Christen has paired her love of fashion with her passion to change the world, starting a clothing line called Threads by Nomad with her mom. Now she will have time to focus more on Threads and building its brand. Their company is socially conscious and making a difference by hiring refugees stateside and collaborating with artisans overseas. Each season it continues to grow and this fall they will introduce their largest collection yet. They have already expanded their offerings to include gifts, accessories, and handmade dolls.
I am sad to say that these next couple weeks will be your last chance to shop with Christen at The Shoe Hive and The Hive, so stop by. I know wherever the future takes Christen, the people she joins for collaboration will be lucky to have her, so join me in wishing her the best.