The Hip Mom Shops Locally Online

So…it’s been awhile since I’ve hit the local streets to do some serious shopping.  After all, last year this time I was puffed up and pregnant. One year later, here I am, staring at my closet. Everything that sort of somewhat fits is just, well, was that off-shoulder pirate blouse really “on trend” way back when in 2011? What was I thinking when I got THAT weird leopard print chemise? GoodNESS that maxi-dress looks like it has some old kiddie spit-up encrusted on it. Ugh. Eighty-five percent of my wardrobe is just…WRONG. Embarrassing. Stained. Or merely…blah. So I draw up a list of new and new-to-me boutiques and plan a fun “research” excursion. Woo hoo!

But this darn thing called life keeps intervening with my grand retail plans. Can you imagine anything more important than shopping? But alas: a minor car accident; a house on the market; a Frog and Toad musical; two ear infections; and OMG house on the market! Add that pile of First World Ennui onto the usual soccer, piano, ballet and homework, and – gah! There’s just no time. But Someone Upstairs must have even my trivial retail angst in mind, because some wonderful online-based ventures conveniently sashay into my purview.

I’m not sure how I came across Purse-a-nality. A friend of an ex-neighbor on Facebook? It’s a mystery, but suddenly these vibrant frocks, purses in outlandish resort-inspired colors, and fun, funky necklaces and accessories keep spinning by in my news feed. Intrigued, I investigate. It turns out that Purse-a-nality started as more of a hobby for Tammy Houghton, who, after many years of working retail and merchandising in LA, had “retired,” but still used her uncanny fashion buyer’s sense to sell purses and accessories to some mom friends from her kids’ game room. But Tammy was just too good at what she did: she just got busier! Her husband got tired of all the disruptions to their home life, what with all the salivating ladies popping in at odd hours. So four years ago she got a store – well, more of a workroom – behind the QT at 81st and Memorial.

Since then she has primarily expanded her business through Facebook. (I wonder if Mark Zuckerberg contemplated purse hawking on his little Facebook project?)

Tammy does not set her store hours; she lets everyone know what’s going on through Facebook. She drops in to her store (mostly to unpack UPS packages and stock merchandise) when it’s convenient for her – what a great set-up for a mom. She holds contests on Facebook and has giveaways for every 100 likes. She’s up to over 7,000 likes on Facebook – all through word of mouth! (Or word of “friend!”) The bulk of her wares are purses and accessories – but she does offer a limited amount of clothing, mostly so she doesn’t have to spend her free time at the mall shopping for herself or her daughters.

The accessories she posts are darling: look at that iPhone 5 case (I need to upgrade my phone to get the best cases, dangit!). I bring my daughters to visit the store in person, and Tammy is there stocking – she is a statuesque blonde you’d love to hate if she weren’t so darn nice and warm. She completely wows my little girls by giving them tiny, adorable Starburst-filled purses. My girls will be loyal customers for life. I buy a darling coral-and-turquoise chevron dress that brightens my day and gets me out of my boring clothes rut. Everything she sells is very reasonably priced – most everything is less than $50. So check out Purse-a-nality’s Facebook page – just a quick perusal will perk you up.

On another night where I am recovering from a full day of “Capture the Egg” policing and weaning-the-baby debacles, I am spacing out in front of Facebook and keep seeing some of my fellow elementary school mommies looking hot sporting new duds from something called “Mode Boutique.” More sleuthing, and I discover Mode is a fabulous Facebook-only boutique started by a fellow third grade mommy, Ginger Ford. After a career in fashion merchandising, and moving here and there throughout the country, Ginger put her career on hold for several years to stay home with her two boys. Now that her boys are bigger, she decided to re-start the career she loved. Because she didn’t have the time to devote to a traditional retail location, she decided to start with Facebook, which would allow her to use her connections from all her various homes throughout the years. Mode works through weekly online auctions held each Wednesday night at 8 p.m. through Thursday at noon.

Mode’s focus is trendy clothing and accessories that are very affordable. Perfect for most of us whose budgets are eaten up by orthodontia work and Pull-Ups.  A lot of Ginger’s clients are local and even stop by her house to try things on and shop – she loves helping other women pick out things that make them look and feel great.   

The auctions are a bit dramatic: new fashion items are posted every few minutes with a description, quantity available and price. When you find something you like, you comment under the picture. Quantities are very limited — usually just two in each size. Then you just pay via Paypal, and voila!, your item will then be shipped to you for a mere $3 flat rate within the US.  I just love the Tory Burch-inspired pieces – the genuine Tory Burch is a bit too pricey for moi! So there I am, scrolling through the offerings at 8 p.m. while nursing the baby to sleep. Hmmm, maybe that’s just dangerous! So visit the next Wednesday auction on Mode’s Facebook page, shopmodeboutique.

Finally, I’m introduced to Fibi and Clo, a new direct sales company that sells blingy beach-y shoes like sandals and wedges for very reasonable prices. Designed by a Texas native who now lives in New York (“Designed in New York City with Southern Love”), they have just made their way into Tulsa via Jackie Hanna, a midtown mom who is the first Tulsa “fashion agent.” The shoes are sold exclusively by Fashion Agents through trunk shows and home parties or online. (I am invited to a shoe party at Sonoma Bistro – wine and shoes? Heaven!)  The shoes are very reasonably priced – shoes are $29.50 – $99.50 – and manage to make you feel like you’re sipping strawberry daiquiris on the Lido Deck for much cheaper than the cost of a Caribbean cruise. They mimic much more expensive designer shoes – compare, for example, this Tommy Bahama beauty for $168, and the Fibi and Clo Turquoise Cannes for a mere $49.50. I am pretty sure that only the most astute fashionista could discern the difference.  And – if you’re like me – you can sport these beauties almost year round, since my exposure to the outdoors in the winter consists of a really fast child-laden sprint from the Target parking lot into the Target Starbucks.

So go visit and peruse the sandals and espadrilles. Even if you’re just manning the sprinklers and water gun fights, if these bejeweled gems are on your feet, you’ll feel like – if you just close your eyes and squint a little – that’s really a white sandy beach for that stretches for miles right in front of your lounge chair…

Categories: Hip Mom