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Nestled in between 2nd Street District’s hottest restaurants is a boutique that has been creating quite a buzz in Austin. Sarah Reeves, owner of Plain Ivey Jane, has been building a reputation for providing Austin’s hottest trends with a price tag that won’t break the bank. Voted “Best New Retailer” from Austin360.com comes as no surprise — it is common to find one-off items that no one else in Austin carries. Plain Ivey Jane has something for everyone, whether it’s the latest “It” item, like the pictured Burberry Trench Coat or local Austinite Tiffany Rash’s latest creations for jewelry label TrashATX. The key to Sarah’s success is her attitude towards mixing high and low pieces to capture the unique spirit of the Austin Woman. Sarah and I sat down for a more intimate talk of her success with Plain Ivey Jane.
Plain Ivey Jane is known for “Luxury clothing for ladies on a budget.” How do you provide such competitive prices?
SARAH: Plain Ivey Jane is closeout couture. I buy the closeout goods from really amazing brands that they bought too many of and have no where to then send them. Some of my brands don’t have outlets and so they have other means of distribution. Lots of designers over cut every season by a certain percentage in order to achieve a certain production cost and hoping that everything sells out. Its always cheaper to over buy than under and have to reorder fabric, dye it, etc. So with this over buy, there’s always leftovers and now all of these great pieces have a good home in Plain Ivey Jane. The designer’s brand isn’t tarnished and the customer gets a discount. Total win win.
What was the inspiration for the name Plain Ivey Jane?
SARAH: Its named after my grandparents on my mom’s side. The ‘Ivey’ was my grandfather, which is also my middle name and that why its the masculine spelling and ‘Jane’ is my grandmother. Strangely, I’ve always known the name of the boutique just not when or where.
What are the driving factors when picking out items for the boutique?
SARAH: I really listen to my customers and visually pay attention to what Austin is wearing. My customers can request designers and tell me what cuts they love. At Lustre Pearl one night, I noticed that every girl there had on a floral skirt, so my next buy, I tried to get a few more of those. I don’t have the seasonal delay in buying. I can buy right now and get items next week so its easier to catch trends that are happening in Austin right now.
I have read that you are a transplant from Manhattan, what was your attraction to Austin?
SARAH: Born and raised in the suburbs of Atlanta, I knew nothing about Austin and not much about Texas, really you only know the Southeast and major cities, so after college I moved to New York. Not until I fell in love with a Texan did I know anything about Austin. We’d always visit Texas for holidays and vacations and always stay in Austin, his family lives in Bulverde. After getting to know Austin, I almost felt it was made for me. A personal utopia of sunny skies, eclectic amazing people, and a place I could take my dogs anywhere! We were ready to move on after Manhattan to a place with space, affordability, and a warmer climate – I hate sweaters – Austin naturally won.
Does Plain Ivey Jane carry any exclusive lines?
SARAH: We have a lot of items you can’t get anywhere else in Austin. As for total exclusivity, I’m not sure, but I doubt anyone has these items for a better price. I’m pretty sure the Otrera scarves, Solettos roll away shoes, Truestory Photography, and Hobbit Town jewelry can’t be found anywhere else in Austin.
Does Plain Ivey Jane provide any special services?
SARAH: I’m a full believer that a customer’s value is not just for that day, but for life. If I can do anything to make your shopping experience better for you, I’m up for it. With tourists, sometimes I’m their personal concierge helping them figure out where to go to dinner and what to check out. For my Austin shoppers, I’ve emailed designers I work with to see if they had more of something I had in the store. I’ve tried to track down certain color dresses, and called tailors on their opinions. I also try to stay really affordable which I feel is a service to a lot of my shoppers. I’m always using my negotiation skills I learned at J.Crew to try to get the best deal.
What trends do you see emerging for Summer ’10?
SARAH: I really like the nude and blush trends I’m seeing in footwear, jackets, and silks. Focusing on Austin, as the nights are getting a lot warmer, I foresee a lot of leg — whether its silk shorts or highwaisted skirts and always short dresses. During the day, a breezy floral dress will do and pockets are always a must.
What is the must have piece of this season?
SARAH: I really feel like the most functional thing in my closet these days are a highwaisted bubble skirt that I can mix with a tshirt for the day, silk tank in the evenings. I think the bubble skirt makes legs look longer and its easier to wear during the triple digit days Austin has so often. If that’s not a good look for you, the must-have should be a go-to dress that you feel confidant in and you can always dress up and dress down.
Are there any future events that Plain Ivey Jane will host?
SARAH: We have lots! We have a couples shopping event June 9th: Ladies get to shop designers at a discount, sip champagne, save bundle, and spend as long as they want in the dressing rooms. The gents get to shop made-to-measure J. Hilburn custom shirts ($80-$150). They’ll be measured, get to pick the fabrics, customize their own shirt, and best of all, be busy while the ladies get to shop. Cheers the evening with drinks and light apps. Donations and supplies for pets in need will be collected by Austin Pets Alive. We’re participating in Glam Shop June 10th, The Pampered Pedal II Bike Ride Tour June 16th, and a Sagra Fashion Brunch July 10th. I don’t want to over-event my customers, but each event is so different than the last that I hope there’s something for everyone.
Who are your style icons?
SARAH: I’ve always loved ‘out-there’ designers that are still functional like Betsey Johnson. I also really admire brands/designers that are really doing something different like Brooklyn Industries (with amazing graphic tees), J.Crew (with bridesmaid dresses), and Ralph Lauren (because of the way he can diversify his brands but still keep them elevated). I like to be inspired in a creative fashion sense as well as business. If you can get both, its iconic.
photography: Full Tilt Photograpy
make-up artist: Modern Muse Make-up Artistry
model: Taylor McCausland