A few weeks ago, I was listing women whom I wanted to feature on Stylebook’s street style series when a notification popped up on my phone informing me that Susan Gerock had tweeted something. I don’t remember what the tweet was, but I immediately added Susan to my list.
If you’ve read Stylebook for a while now, you likely remember Susan, former owner of Zoe Boutique and original Stylebook member. I’ve had the pleasure of staying in touch with Susan since she closed her store, but I thought our readers might enjoy catching up with her too. So in today’s street style post, Susan updates us on what she’s up to, what she misses about owning a boutique, what she enjoys more now, and of course she shares with us the details of her street style look and a few of her favorite Bellacara products.
What are you enjoying now that you don’t own a store?
My husband, Jim, did not want me to close Zoe but loves all the time we have together now that I’m not burning the candle at both ends! And last September we took our first real vacation in four years!
I’ve also been very happy that I can visit my family in Georgia on a regular basis. My mother had a stroke in November and rather than worrying about trying to balance family, my day job, and the store, I was able to spend three days with her after Thanksgiving. Although Zoe had a fantastic staff and I know they could have handled Black Friday and Small Business Saturday without me, it was nice to not feel torn and to be fully present for my Mom during my visit.
And Christmas! Although I’ve always been focused on the reason for the season, this past year was the first time we’ve decorated a tree in ages. And I had time and energy to get all of my Christmas cards mailed before Christmas (my friends who are reading this know that sometimes I was still mailing cards in January because I’m just that stubborn!) When you own a store, you are busy hosting events, special ordering gifts, and making sure your customers have everything they need for a great holiday. Your personal holiday preparations fall by the wayside.
What do you miss about owning a store?
I really miss the people! I’ve always said that Zoe had the most wonderful customers and to have had the opportunity to get to know so many nice people and be part of their lives was really rewarding. If, through the store, I touched their lives even a fraction of the way they touched mine, I would consider it an honor.
I also felt so fortunate to get to know the other boutique owners in Alexandria and to become friends with all of the wonderful women who worked at Zoe. Late last year, as I reflected over my time at the store, I realized that had I not owned Zoe, I would not have met the majority of these people. And my life is so much richer now that I have them in it!
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss the clothes! While I always said that going to market was the most fun and the most stressful part of owning the store, there really isn’t anything like being surrounded by beautiful fabrics and designs. I met so many of the namesake designers behind the brands – Tracy Reese, Chan Luu, Yoana Baraschi, and Amy Matto. And I’ve continued my friendships with Zoe favorites Kathlin Argiro and Katie Bartels. I’m currently working with Kathlin on a custom formal dress that I’ll be wearing later this year!
What do you know now as an Alexandria shopper that you didn’t know before?
Just how many great opportunities there are to learn from the talented men and women who own the stores! In late January, I took a fantastic cookie decorating class at La Cuisine. And tomorrow I’ll be taking a Letterpress Greeting Card Printing Class at Old City Press & Co. There really is something for everyone!
The stores in Alexandria do a wonderful job with social media! I love to follow them on Instagram to learn about their events and to see the new items arriving in their stores.
And you really can cover your entire gift shopping list without leaving the City! I’m a frequent shopper at Pink & Brown (for my niece and nephew), at Red Barn Mercantile (for my Mom and Mother-In-Law), and at Hooray for Books for my husband (they have contemporary adult titles in addition to their vast array of children’s books!) I’m always amazed at the variety and selection available across all the stores.
Did you have fun at Bellacara?
Absolutely! Elizabeth did a wonderful job with my make-up and is such a delightful person! And it was great to have the opportunity to catch up with Angela. As we were preparing for the shoot, I realized just how much of my day-to-day beauty routine includes products from Bellacara. I’m a big fan of their Alchimie daytime and nighttime creams and their Jouer Moisture Tint and Blush. My go-to lip color is their Fresh Sugar Honey Lip Treatment and I love their Molton Brown Body Wash and Lotion. And I have become a loyal devotee of their Nomaterra fragrances. Bellacara also does fantastic work with make-up applications like I had for this story. I’ve visited them prior to photo shoots for The Scout Guide and for business headshots and have never come away disappointed!
Susan is wearing brands she carried at Zoe including a top by Velvet, jeans by Red Engine Denim, a necklace and earrings by Katie Bartels. The flowers are from The Enchanted Florist and are now sitting on Susan’s desk, and the booties by Bettye Muller are a recent purchase from The Shoe Hive.
Next week, we’ll give you the details on what products our makeup artist, Elizabeth, used for Susan’s look, as well as some advice on what to do when something doesn’t turn out the way you thought it would.