I sat down with Lauren Meek to talk all things retail, what it was like starting her own business and, of course, her fashion favorites. Lauren is the owner and buyer of Emory Clothing, an upscale women’s boutique located in her hometown of Jacksonville, FL.
Emory, which opened in May of 2019, focuses on contemporary collections like Ulla Johnson, Xirena and The Great, as well as designer denim from Citizens of Humanity to J Brand. Before going out on her own, Lauren worked in the retail industry for 10+ years as a buyer, store manager, social media and web manager. She spent time working in both Charlotte, NC and Charleston, SC before returning to Jacksonville, FL and branching out on her own. Emory Clothing is located in the heart of Historic Avondale where Lauren and her husband currently reside.
When did you know you wanted to start your own business?
I have always loved retail – I’ve been in the industry for ten plus years, so the idea of owning my own business was always a goal I hoped to achieve. Two years ago I watched the industry start to evolve in a way that demanded a new perspective in order to succeed and I felt like I had a pretty good vision of what that looked like. With that said, what I envisioned Emory growing to be long term would take years of building, and so I knew I needed to hit the ground running sooner rather than later.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received throughout your professional career?
“If you don’t do it, someone else will.” The way I see it, you have two options in life: take the risk or watch someone else succeed with your dream. Make a plan, take the leap and go for it.
What changes did you have to make to your retail business model when COVID-19 hit?
Essentially, everything. Our business model of brick and mortar commerce basically disappeared overnight and we had no choice but to adapt to an online buyer’s mentality. I had what felt like five minutes to refocus all efforts and creativity on bringing Emory’s full curated selection of inventory to the customer at home, through our website and social media, while also maintaining the same level of personalized service we provide in store.
Have you been able to expand your customer base with your online site?
Originally we were just hoping to accommodate our existing local customers but I realized pretty quickly our reach extended well over state lines. Now that we have orders shipping across the country on a weekly basis, our e-commerce website will continue to be an essential part of the Emory brand. I’ve learned how important it is to be omnichannel to survive and stand out in this industry.
If you had to wear the same outfit for the rest of your life, what would it be?
My style is pretty laid back. I believe strongly in investing in good basics – jeans, a good white or graphic tee, and a cool jacket to pull it together – that’s what I feel best in.
What item of clothing can you not part with in your closet?
A nice white button down is so classic and chic. It’s probably the easiest piece in your closet to throw on to look put together even if it’s just paired with jeans and Birkenstocks. I love wearing one opened as bathing suit cover-up this time of year. It’s a good timeless piece I always want to have in my rotation.
Do you enjoy CBD products? If so, how are they integrated into your daily routine?
I’ve been incorporating CBD products into my daily routine for the past few years. I love tincture oils in the morning and the Buddha CBD Green tea is another favorite of mine.
How do you get cozy?
I love to cook, so a perfect cozy night to me would probably start there. My absolute favorite nights are with my husband in the kitchen with some wine and music while we cook up something warm and Italian. Some pasta, good wine and the people you enjoy most – that’s my cozy.
Emory is located at 3573 St Johns Ave in Jacksonville, FL 32205 and is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m.
Visit EmoryClothing.com for more information and follow Emory on Instagram and Facebook.