Hermon Alem always knew that she wanted to open up a boutique. “I have always had the idea in the back of my head while living in Los Angeles but never took the leap to make it happen,” she explained. So, when she made the move from the City of Angels to Colorado, Hermon revisited that idea. She was having a hard time finding stores that sell the style she was accustomed to in L.A. — trendy and fashion forward — and felt there were women with a similar style who were not being served. With that goal in mind, Hermon set out to open up her own boutique, Elevate Fashion & Lifestyle, a contemporary boutique in Aurora that caters to women who love trendy, sexy, fun pieces and most importantly love to stand out. We recently sat with Hermon to find out more about her new boutique, which will officially open this weekend.
303 Magazine: Growing up, did you always have an interest to work in fashion?
Hermon Alem: Yes, I have always had a love for clothes and fashion. When I got to the age where I could shop for myself, shopping became my favorite hobby. Finding unique pieces and a great deal were part of the adventure. It was not until later that I decided I would make fashion my career.
303: What specifically about the retail aspect of the industry called to you?
HA: I lived in close proximity to the Fashion District in Los Angeles and it exposed me to the business of fashion. I was intrigued by the factories and showrooms with clothes that were sold to boutiques nationwide and that is where the seed was planted to open a store.
303: What is your vision and point of view for your boutique?
HA: I envision Elevate being a go-to store for fun and sexy pieces that are not found at other stores in Denver. Also, I would like for it to evolve into a place where local designers — especially women — can be spotlighted.
303: Where do you purchase your clothes? And what inspires you when you are choosing brands?
HA: I purchase from trade shows in New York and Las Vegas as well as the showrooms in L.A. When choosing pieces to sell at the store, I think of the type of girl or women I see wearing the piece in different settings, whether it’s a night out or a Sunday brunch. Something that will make her feel good and stand out.
303: If you could go back and tell yourself one thing before starting your career, what would it be?
HA: I would tell my self to stick to my gut — have a clear vision and do not stray from it.
303: Who is your go-to style icon?
HA: It is a mix between Solange and Rihanna.
303: How would you say digital marketing and social media influence your boutique?
HA: Digital marketing and social media are huge parts of any business. It is how you communicate to your audience. Consumers are more than likely introduced to your brand/store via social media. As a new store, I feel as though it is my first impression. I personally do not use social media heavily but I am quickly learning its importance for my store and brand.
303: Who are your influences when purchasing for your boutique?
HA: When making purchases for the store, I am influenced a lot by celebrity style — like I mentioned, Rihanna, Solange — and there is no escaping Kim K. I also follow and get inspiration form Instagram influencers/entrepreneurs like Kahlana Barfield, Nichole Lynel and Ishateria. All these women make trends or take a trend put their own spin on it which is what I want women to do with the pieces in my store.
303: What are the challenges or setbacks you have experienced and how did you overcome them?
HA: As a new store owner, I had to learn to delegate and ask for help instead of trying to do everything.
303: Why should people be drawn to shop at Elevate?
HA: People should be drawn to shop at Elevate if they are in the mood for something new, fresh, and fun.
303: Who is the Elevate Fashion Boutique Customer?
HA: The Elevate customer is any woman who wants to be adventurous with her clothing and likes to stand out.
303: What aspects of your past do you feel helped you become a successful businesswoman?
HA: Managing my parent’s liquor stores taught me the most about running a business and gave me the confidence to open my clothing store. I worked for a brokerage firm for many years but running a small business gave me practical skills for what I am doing now.
303: What was the biggest rookie mistake you made when just starting out?
HA: My biggest mistake was not pushing my social media presence before the store opened. As I mention, social media plays such a pivotal role in the success of a business.
303: What are some of your tips and tricks for putting an outfit together on a busy morning?
HA: If I am short on time, I take an outfit that I know I like and remix it. Change the top or the shoes and create a new great outfit.
303: What advice would you give to young women hoping to one day follow in your footsteps? Where do they even begin?
HA: I would suggest working for or shadowing a person who has the job or position you want. Learn the ins and outs of the business and get the full understanding before starting your own business.
303: What are you looking forward to in the year to come with your new venture? What goals do you have for your business?
HA: I look forward to growing into a store that women love to visit and that will encourage them to try new things with their style and most importantly love how they look.
Elevate Fashion & Lifestyle’s grand opening party is this Saturday, March 2 from 4 to 8 p.m. The boutique is located at 12203 E. Iliff Ave., Aurora.
All photography by Bridget Burnett.