noun – pronounced (Will-I)
Buckle up there fashionistas. This ain’t gone be no typical “Like yeaaaah, fashion is sooo cute like yeaaaah !” kinda story. This is a short story of an unlikely happening about the little store that could.
To start off, WILåI came about while Chane was peeing one time in New York City at a hole in the wall Thai restaurant called Klong on the Lower East Side and apparently went into the wrong restroom since he was not hip to the language. The little Thai manager lady must have pecked on the door some 40 times in the time a guy pees and constantly reinforced that it was the ladies' room. She was stressing “ladies” with each peck. Upon exiting that wrong restroom, he took a foto of the door and it said WILåI which indeed means “woman” in the Thai language...so there you go. The funny thing is that he was up there on a mission to find inspiration to reinvent his current SOMÅ (SPARROW) concept.
Let's go backwards here for a bit and give you some history on how we got started in the lady world. Back in the day before the stores, Chane would save up to go to NYC to dream uncontrollably and hustle tee shirt catalogs at trade shows. He, being a bit slow sometimes, finally discovered the age-old fact that women really like to buy clothing! A month later, a rack of clothing appeared on a sidewalk in Fondren in front of his skate shop and women began hitting the rack like hawks in chicken pen. In 2001, SOMÅ, named after a Smashing Pumpkins song, was born as the elixir to bad local fashion.
Success was slow at first. Lets's face it here folks, this was a straight guy that had very little money from South/West Jackson and wears slightly dirty white tee shirts and has no concept of the boutique world – simply put, he had a dumb idea of a late discovery and was willing to fail trying. During one of SOMÅ's hardest times it looked like she would take herself and the other store down, but then a local news station appeared and did a story on this local out-of-the-box concept. Things slowly turned up and paved the way for growth via many mistakes.
SOMÅ began to be known as the only local boutique that refused to carry what everyone else had. This was an escape from clone-ism. You would never see cheesy animal prints or frilly bad fashion here. She had a raw edge that was a bit feral for Jackson but soon the locals would catch on. At the time, Jackson had only a few boutiques before the saturation would explode bad fashion everywhere like a redbug epidemic. SOMÅ had an all white interior with all white fixtures and displays. The reason was to put the focus on the product. She focused on styles that ranged from hippy chic (that's pronounced SHEEK, not 'chick' as in chicken) to Japanese modern...and at realistic prices we might add. She became the bitch of the local fashion industry in her advertising with a take-no-prisoners attitude and blazed a burning trial of excitement for local shoppers to try and guess what she would do next. SOMÅ ran crazy ads on the radio that made other local boutiques want to pull their high-dollar ad campaigns by essentially calling all of the other local stores “snotty, rich old lady stores”. She became know as the lone spirit of Anti-Fashion. There were no snotty little rich girls here with chatty-Cathy attitudes and sized up insecurities. She staffed substance humans with pop in their step and who lit the room to local curiosity seekers.
On a building high, SOMÅ needed something else to turn the local heads as she was getting itchy for a change or an epiphany. As fate would have it, some local ads starting popping up by a company that would soon open a store called ETHERIA. This store was crazy enough to want to open next to SOMÅ's brother store SWELL. The ads were a bit crass and tensions began to heat up with the local supporters thinking how rude and disrespectful for another company to be so forward about wanting to give SOMÅ a run for her money. The hype was heavy as locals where keeping an eye on this soon-to-happen cat fight. This “ETHERIA” store opened in March 2003 during an art walk night in Fondren and the masses were there to see the throwdown (because SOMÅ had decided to run her own ads in response). Well, as shock would provide, locals walked into this new punk attitude store only to find out that they had all been played for 2 months with an ad battle among competing stores to see that this was SOMÅ's alter ego store. This was our first real marketing heist to pull off what would lead to others in the future.
ETHERIA opened, offering a bit of a more raw edge to the female that needed just a little more rebellion in her closet. ETHERIA focused on the denim lines that SOMÅ did not carry, representing 22 lines between the two. Three years later, the itch of change and shock would arise again with the announcement that they were both closing. (This stemmed from the desire to leave the current SOMÅ location due to a bad relationship with a deadbeat landlord.) As the local supporters frowned in disappointment, the next surprise of SPARROW was born. in the former ETHERIA location. As SPARROW did her thing with creative exploration over the next year, the locals did not respond with the same intensity as with the original SOMÅ concept.
Here is where we get back on the track to becoming WILåI. As WILåI would develop over the next few years, she came into her skin with offering a more refined and cleaner offering of product lines and a wider variety of price points. She still holds true to her exclusive policy and hard edge and continues to change lines carried in order not to be typecast by brands offered. WILåI offers the best of all of her previous alter ego worlds with better local products focus than ever before. You may wonder after reading all of this, will WILåI stay the same or itch for yet another epiphany?
Well, what's about to happen is...
...TO BE CONTINUED