Momma-to-be Helen Wade-Joice and her brother Ian Wade, owners of Fresh, with their dogs Biggens and Cash, celebrate their two-year anniversary this July. Photo: Chris Swainston
It’s no secret that Salt Lake’s citizens are some of the best-dressed folks this side of the Rockies—the young ladies and gents of this city can be seen catwalking down Broadway like it’s Fashion Week every night. Contributing to their schnazzy style since July of 2009 is none other than your friendly neighborhood modern apparel boutique, Fresh. Operated by the lovely sibling duo of Helen Wade-Joice and Ian Wade, Fresh calls the bustling 9th & 9th district home and offers Salt Lake’s young men and women an affordable, local alternative to the corporate cookie-cutter clothes you find at the *gag* mall.
Fresh has survived in this cutthroat economic state to see two years worth of clothing walk in and off their racks due to the owners’ dedication and insight. “If you are serious about having a business, you have to be there every day and put 100 percent into it. We’ve pretty much given up everything for the store,” says Helen. As frequent customers know, the two young shop owners are as much a part of the store as the surrounding walls, greeting every person who walks in with genuine warmth and admittance. Helen believes this kind of customer service is what makes their business successful. “We get to meet new people every day and really find out what they want and build a relationship. I think when someone walks into a local store, they want to see the owners there, not some high school kid behind the desk that doesn’t care about you,” she says.
This openness and attention to detail has also allowed them to slowly evolve their inventory, bringing in fresh brands and developing a unique, Salt Lake City style for their new and returning customers. “When we opened, we were a little safer, and now we take a few more risks here and there,” says Ian. As young professionals themselves—Helen an avid snowboarder and soon-to-be mom, Ian a diligent student and skier—the pair keeps a close eye on the season’s trends and has learned to listen to customers’ needs, putting them above their own personal tastes at times. “This store is definitely our store, but we’re not shopping for ourselves, we’re shopping for everyone in Salt Lake, and that’s the hardest thing, to separate yourself and learn,” says Helen. “Each season, I feel like we do a better job, but there’s always some stuff that was a miss. We open the box, and we’re like, ‘Oops, why did we order this?’ And then there are some things that are like, ‘Yes, I’m so glad I ordered this.’”
Their buying process is also something to be commended. Each brand that comes into the store is researched thoroughly by the Fresh team, a fact that sets them apart from many corporate and local boutiques alike. “There’s a back story to every brand that’s in the store. You can ask us about any piece, and we can tell you about the brand and where they’re from,” says Ian. Last year, California-based clothing line Ambiguous flew out their designer to paint some murals and premiere their brand at Fresh, a gesture that was much appreciated at the small store, Helen says. It’s these types of affordable, customer-oriented brands that keep conscious consumers shopping at Fresh. “If we can’t stand behind the brand, then we’re not going to bring it in,” says Helen. The clothing boutique also features local designers such as shogoclothing, Evryday, Brumbies, Velvet Seahorse and Velo City Bags, and they keep 80 percent of the jewelry local.
Aside from supporting the local fashion scene, Fresh contributes to the community in a variety of ways, hosting and sponsoring bicycle events, fundraisers and gallery shows in the shop. SLUG’s own revered photographers Chris Swainston and Sam Milianta are beneficiaries of Fresh’s support of the arts, both having shown their work on the boutique’s walls. Helen and Ian hope to feature a new artist every month and are open to any “cool ideas,” time permitting.
Perhaps the most “fresh” aspect of this clothing boutique is the owners’ optimistic perspective and drive to succeed. When asked how many more birthdays we should expect to celebrate with Fresh, the siblings gave no end. “The longer we’re here, the better we’ll become established, the more of a hub we’ll become to the neighborhood,” says Ian. “… That’s something that our shop kind of brings, a new sense of community.”
Come be a part of Fresh’s two-year anniversary party on July 15 at 6 p.m. where local photographer and stencil artist Gabriel Garcia will be featuring his work. Fresh will also have a weekend-long anniversary sale, so be sure to stop by, say hello to Helen and Ian and buy some classy new threads. Who knows, you may even get some free liquor out of it. “I can’t count how many shots I’ve bought for people wearing a shirt [from Fresh],” says Ian. Now that’s what I call customer service.