Chatting With Liza Fragomele

Trudy Boutique in Wilmington, Delaware - Interview with Liza Fragomele - Social Stylate

If you work in fashion, the idea of opening your own store is probably somewhere in the back of your mind, but when is the right time to take that leap? For Liza Fragomele, owner of brand new Wilmington womenswear boutique TRUDY, it was when the right space became available.

Below, Liza shares her inspiration for the decor of the store, her favorite brands, and dealing with the online shopping competition.

What prompted you to start a career in fashion? Is that what you studied in college?

Fashion has been a love of mine since I was a little girl. I really don’t think I ever contemplated another career path. I moved to NYC as I got the opportunity and started working!

What made you decide to open your own boutique, TRUDY? Was there a defining moment when you realized you were ready?

I had been talking about opening my own store for forever. After moving back from New York I realized there was still a retail void in town and I started to get serious about the project. When we got word that this space was going to become available, I decided it was time to take the leap!

TRUDY is gorgeous — the way you decorated the space, it’s so chic, yet incredibly comfortable. Can you describe your inspiration/vision?

I knew I wanted a clean, neutral space so that the merchandise could do the talking. And I wanted an openness, to feel like the store was part of the block and vice versa. When it came to the actual furniture, the brass racks came first and the rest sort of just came together naturally. The art is actually my favorite feature design wise. Each piece tells a different story, but they work together so perfectly.

Trudy Boutique in Wilmington, Delaware - Interview with Liza Fragomele - Social Stylate

With so many consumers buying online, what made you want to open a physical store?

I myself have always been a big online shopper, but there’s something about walking into a store and walking out with something – it’s that instant satisfaction that I think people will always crave. Also I think brick and mortar shopping is more personal. You can really tell a story and create a mood that inspires customers – it’s hard to do that online.

Who is the TRUDY customer?

The TRUDY customer appreciates fashion, understands quality and enjoys an intimate and personalized shopping experience. Our selection is fun, modern and colorful. I really take my time with the buy and to make sure it stays super curated and unique.

What do you look for when selecting brands/pieces for the store?

I think about the realities of the women who live in this area and what makes sense for their lifestyles. I also try to choose things that are maybe a little outside the box style wise. I hope to introduce our clients to new things and to encourage taking fashion risks.

Trudy Boutique in Wilmington, Delaware - Interview with Liza Fragomele - Social Stylate

What are your favorite looks or trends for summer?

Mini handbags, chunky gold jewelry, pastels, mixing prints.

How would you describe your personal style?

I’ve always been a bit of a tomboy, but I think I’m dressing more feminine as I get older. I’m typically pretty casual though. I wear a lot denim, I love mixing colors and prints, and I think sneakers work with everything.

Who would you say is really killing it in fashion right now?

I’m super into a brand from Copenhagen, Ganni. Its super cool but feminine, and I feel really lucky to be carrying it. In the luxury fashion world, I’m loving Italian designer, Attico. I have the biggest girl crush on the two designers – their style is so good. Japanese designer, Sacai, will always be my favorite. I cherish the pieces that I have from each of her collections.

A little more about Liza…
TV show you love to binge-watch: Big Little Lies, Keeping Up With The Kardashians – I’m not ashamed 🙂
Cocktail of choice: Margarita in the summer, old fashioned in the winter
Favorite book or podcast: I just bought “The Power of Now”- I’m trying to work on being more present
Thing you love to do on your day off: relax outside
Fashion item you can’t live without: my Sasha Samuel locket necklace and Celine white cat eye sunglasses
Style Icons: Julia Sarr Jamois, Christine Centenera, Taylor Tomasi Hill

 

Follow TRUDY on Instagram and Facebook.

Photos by Kelli Wilke

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Exciting Changes Happening At Houppette

Houppette Cosmetics and Skincare Boutique - Social Stylate

Our client, Houppette, recently announced plans to close their Kennett Square, PA location in order to make their new Greenville, DE location larger and offer more services. We spoke to the owners, Cristi Miller and Elizabeth Johnson, about the big news.

1. So the bad news is that Kennett Square residents will now have to come to Greenville to shop (tax-free!), but the good news is that Houppette is going to be bigger AND better than ever! What is the goal/vision for the new expanded concept store?

Our goal at Houppette is always to provide our customers with the very best service, selection, and overall experience possible. Our vision is for an elevated Houppette concept. Having been in business for 17 years, it’s time to reinvent and modernize our concept and the shopping experience for our customers. There are exciting new trends in the beauty industry that we are excited to showcase in our new store–more details to come closer to our opening!

2. It’s great that the two of you will be back to working under the same roof! How do you work together?

We feel that we have an extraordinary working relationship, and we’re very fortunate to have each other. We collaborate very well, and always respect one another’s opinions. We really don’t struggle balancing business and friendship; we have an unconditional mutual respect for one another at the heart of our personal and business relationship. Likewise, our strengths and weaknesses compliment one another nicely. We both wear so many hats, and seem to always find a balance. Where one of us falls short, the other one picks up, and where and when that happens can even depend on the day.

3. In our opinion, online shopping will never compare to the fun of physically going into a store, not to mention the importance of supporting small, local businesses. How do you keep up with the digital shopping space?

Thank you so much for the shout out for small business! As we have seen with many brick and mortar stores closing, competing with online is a big challenge. Meeting that challenge is part of our strategy in growing our store and concept. We know that there are very fundamental and important aspects to a shopping experience that you cannot get online. We strive to offer our customers a friendly face, honest, personalized product recommendations based on our knowledge of the products and the customer. We’re so fortunate to have so many customers who love to come into Houppette and say that it’s their “happy place”. We love hearing that and will keep offering that feel-good, fun beauty experience to everyone who comes to our store.

4. One of our favorite things about shopping in the Greenville store is the intimacy of the small space. Will the new expanded location have that same feel?

Although customers complimented us on how beautiful the Kennett Square store was, we heard more often that they preferred the cozy, intimate feel of the Greenville location. We take our customer feedback very seriously, and plan to keep that intimate atmosphere in the new space in Greenville.

5. You both do such a great job of making women feel beautiful and confident. At the end of the day, what does beauty mean to you?

Helping women feel beautiful and confident is the most important part of what we do, and it is what we love most about every day. True beauty absolutely comes from within, and nothing can compare to a happy, confident smile, genuinely feeling good in your own skin, and enjoying your life and loved ones. That’s truly what it’s all about at the end of the day.

Houppette is a luxury cosmetics, makeup, and accessory boutique known for their high-end product assortment and extraordinary customer service. For more information, you can follow them on Facebook and Instagram.

 

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10 Reasons To Visit Newark As A Post-Grad

Hometown of the Blue Hens, Newark may be thought of as a college town, but it’s so much more than that. With co-ops, art classes, escape rooms, and a brand new brewery, there’s plenty to do after graduation is long behind you. Whether if it’s been a few years since you’ve been back or you live the next town over, it’s time to schedule another visit and see what fun things Newark has to offer!

10 Reasons To Visit Newark As A Post-Grad - Social Stylate

Check out the art scene. Sign up for a class or take in one of the many upcoming exhibits through Newark Arts Alliance. Young at Art is the current exhibit (until March 24) featuring artists ranging in age from 5-18. Paint, sip, repeat at Painting with a Twist. Offering complimentary beverages of the caffeinated, alcoholic, or refreshing variety while you learn to paint beautiful and unique images from experienced artists. Great for girl’s night, birthday parties, or just an excuse to paint with your friends! Take in the national movie scene with Main Street Movies, where you can reserve your seats ahead of time or book a party with your friends and family. Plus, every Tuesday is Bargain Tuesday and all tickets are $6!

10 Reasons To Visit Newark As A Post-Grad - Midnight Oil Brewing Company - Social Stylate

Feeling thirsty? The newest brewery in town, Midnight Oil Brewing Company, made its debut on Super Bowl Sunday featuring their own craft beers, some here for good (like Insomnia Stout and Hop Envy IPA) and some just for the season (hello Luna and Heathen Holiday Ale!), so get them while they’re in! Many of the bars in town have their very own Trivia Night, so head to Deer Park Tavern on Mondays and Mad-Macs on Thursdays to test your random fact knowledge!

If adventure is your middle name, sign up for Axxiom Escape Rooms where you’ll be locked in a room, given clues, and made to work together with your group to escape within an hour! Room themes include Sherlock Holmes, Pirates of the Caribbean, National Treasures, and more! Take advantage of National Trails Day on June 2 and choose one of the many awesome hikes in the area, like Mason Dixon Trail, Chestnut Hill Trail, and J.F. Hall Trail!

If you’re looking to get to know the area better, join Newark Parks & Rec for their 50th anniversary and 50 Days of Fun! With events happening each month like planting a tree on Arbor Day (April 27) or stargazing at the Newark Reservoir (July 20) or a summertime evening swim (Aug 10), you’re bound to stay active this year. Continue supporting the community by shopping local at Newark Natural Foods Co-Op Farmers Market. Buying directly from local agriculturalists help keep the small-town feel of Newark while supporting farming families and raising awareness for environmental issues. It’s a win-win!

10 Reasons To Visit Newark As A Post-Grad - Caffe Gelato - Social Stylate

You’ll need something to eat after all that activity! Caffé Gelato, a Newark Main Street staple, features Italian-inspired cuisine, 1,500 bottles of wine, and a sophisticated atmosphere, not to mention its namesake: made-in-house (and exquisite) gelato. Their warm and friendly ambiance is seconded only to their delicious dishes. Offering specials like Lobster and Goat Cheese Ravioli and favorites such as House-Crafted Cheese Tortellini, there are also plenty of specials throughout the week: 1/2 price pasta on Sundays, 1/2 price bottles of vino on Tuesdays, and $6 paninis on Thursdays! Plus, if you wear your UD apparel on Sundays, you get 50% off brunch. Yes, we’ll have another glass of your Italian Prosecco! Grazie!

If you’re looking for something unique to try, check out some of Caffé Gelato’s upcoming events, such as Pasta Making and Chianti on March 15, Kentucky Bourbon Dinner on April 26, or bring your children for Kid’s Cooking Class on June 9! Stay tuned for PAWS on the Porch, where you can celebrate and support Paws for People during Spring Happy Hours! Paws for People (Pet-assisted Visitation Volunteer Services- PAWS), is a non-profit organization offering healing pet therapy to elders and children, alike, providing them with loving, gentle affection from their well-trained and compassionate furry friends.

Newark is an exciting little town, bustling with things to do for people of all ages. Whether you grew up here, only stayed four years, or are considering moving to the area, Newark is a great corner of the world. Filled with small-town vibes, a great sense of community, and an endless amount of places to explore, Newark is so much more than a college town.

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Local Chef and Artist Hold A Pop-up Art Infused Seven Course Tasting

Local marketing manager Rachel Starrett gives us the inside scoop on last month’s pop-up art dinner.

Fresh off his two-week staging experience at world famous Chicago-based restaurant Alinea, local chef Alex Neaton collaborated with local artist Rick Hidalgo to present an original pop-up chef tasting featuring seven courses and corresponding to the dishes, seven works of art. Neaton, of the upscale 1906 at Longwood Gardens, wrote the menu before his experience at Alinea and fleshed it out after, knowing he would be inspired with the details while at the three-star Michelin restaurant. The tasting was presented in Hockessin at Hidalgo’s recently opened RH Gallery & Studios last Friday and Saturday to twenty guests per night and sold out in a week.

Pop-Up Art Dinner - RH Gallery & Studios - Hockessin, Delaware - Social Stylate

The pop-up required the conversion of Hidalgo’s personal studio space into a kitchen for the evenings (not an easy feat) and the gallery was turned into a dining room, with two 10-top tables beside the artwork, which the guests took in before taking their seats. To render his art, Hidalgo was given only the colors included in the dish and the main ingredient.

The tasting kicked off with an amuse bouche dedicated to Neaton’s father who had recently passed. The dish was plated uniquely, an elegant swirl of ricotta was centered on an otherwise bare white plate and the meatball sat to the side in a shot glass. Heather Buckman of Wilmington, an attendee on Saturday night said, “It was a touching and intimate moment when the chef came out to explain the loss of his father and that his meatballs were his favorite. You don’t get that kind of intimate dining experience and a connection with the person preparing the food you’re about to eat in a restaurant.”

Pop-Up Art Dinner - RH Gallery & Studios - Hockessin, Delaware - Social Stylate

The courses that followed were a mash up of the best of what Neaton has learned from his mentors along the way: the first, a lemon, tarragon and butter poached lobster tail accompanied by a frisee salad and buddhapalm, sauvignon blanc gold-flecked gel cubes and topped with a tarragon and lemon puree. The second, Neaton’s wild card and to his surprise the crowd favorite, was an orange velvet carrot ginger soup adorned with a single roasted purple carrot and finished with a yellow carrot puree, smoked walnuts, a punchy red chili oil and garnished with micro carrot tops. A butternut squash caramelli came third, in beautiful thrown clay bowls by local artist Tim Austin. The dish was a nod to Neaton’s first mentor Chef Mike O’Hare, owner of Gennaro’s in Aston, PA, and was topped with a piece of butternut squash ‘paper’ he created with a slow dehydration process.

Pop-Up Art Dinner - RH Gallery & Studios - Hockessin, Delaware - Social Stylate

Fourth was a filet paired with a port cherry cream sauce, celery root puree, a bruleed leek, shallots and a black garlic and cherry puree. A pan seared duck breast came fifth atop a truffle scented soubise sauce, local trumpet mushrooms, a roasted chipollini onion, port wine foam and a crisp parsnip. A single spoon of pineapple and aloe was served as a palette cleanser, and then came dessert. A goat cheese cheesecake with an ‘everything bagel’ crust paired with a gooseberry jam and the finale: Neaton’s take on a KitKat bar — a triple stacked bar of chocolate mousse, chocolate ganashe and a chocolate feuilletine blend, adorned with a white chocolate disk and paired with orange butter sauce. The guests enjoyed seeing Hidalgo’s interpretation of each dish as the courses were served. Seven 7×7 squares hung opposite the guests and showcased Hidalgo’s artistic interpretation of each dish. Each piece was mixed media with resin and acrylic on wood panel. Eric Starrett of Chadds Ford, also a Saturday attendee said, “Sitting at a dining table in the middle of an art gallery, surrounded by white walls, bright light and art and being served incredibly creative food while enjoying an artist’s interpretation of a culinary dish was so engaging and thought provoking. And the food blew me away.”

Pop-Up Art Dinner - RH Gallery & Studios - Hockessin, Delaware - Social Stylate

Neaton and Hidalgo, both self-taught, created the event as a celebration of their decade long friendship and to honor how far they’ve have come in their respective crafts. Neaton, having come from a troubled past, started out as a dishwasher more than a decade ago and worked his way up, attributing his love of cooking with getting his life back on track. Hidalgo opened RH Gallery in the summer of 2017, and his work has been featured at The Delaware Contemporary, Chris White Gallery, and The Moving Parts Collective at The Mill Space among others. RH Gallery & Studios, a stone’s throw away from the upscale New American restaurant and Hockessin gem The House of William and Merry, hosts monthly art exhibits featuring local artists.

Neaton was incredibly grateful to his Longwood family for their support of the event. Chefs William Brown and Matthew Anderson, respectively, both of Longwood, were especially supportive, helping in the kitchen and attending the event. Also, among the guests were Kenneth Warner of Longwood, Brian Kimble of Winterthur, and Mexican eatery El Diablo co-owner Roger Andrews. Photographer David Heitur of Wilmington photographed the event.

For more information or if you would like to get on the list for tickets to the next pop-up email: artdinnerpopup@gmail.com

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