In most stores, seeing all of these components under one roof might seem discombobulated—a bit like when you travel to a foreign country and buy a beautiful Indian kaftan only to realize it makes you look completely out of place when you wear it to Sunday brunch. But for Elyce Rembos, owner of the eco-friendly boutique with two locations (the other is in the Chicago suburb of Hinsdale), the details are what make things exciting, and she genuinely finds joy traveling all over the world and discovering those hidden treasures.
Her shops’ eschew brands, preferring to concentrate on getting that right look rather than focusing on price points.
“Finding things from around the world that you can incorporate into your own wardrobe is one of the things I enjoy most,” says Rembos, who spent time in New York working as a photo stylist with top models and celebrities. “The focus now is about creating your own individual look and less about status-seeking labels than in years past. It’s about finding unique pieces and working them into your wardrobe in new and interesting ways. Developing a long-lasting style you can call your own. It’s all in the mix.”
“The Green Goddess is every woman,” says Rembos. “It’s all about the attitude. Even if she doesn’t leave her apartment, she’s not one to concern herself with getting wrinkles. She’s ageless. She is the next generation of style makers. She is not afraid to mix it up and always game to try and learn new things.”
Rembos is so insistent that it’s not about the product that sometimes she doesn’t even place product in her front windows, anathema in the world of retail.
“There was a generation of retailers who were all about making the sale,” admits Rembos. “People today, though, don’t want to be sold. They want to hear the stories. They are shopping with a conscience. We want to create a warm and welcoming environment in our store that is more about the experience than a feeling of what can we sell to you today.
“I want to create a feeling of fantasy and intrigue,” she says. “Our displays and visuals are an extension of our merchandising. I want to create an exciting shopping environment full of ideas and inspiration.”
Toward that effort, shoppers will find information cards throughout the store that detail information about different products, including how they are made, where they are made and any important features. Other times, they might find “how to” tips, such as how to use pinecones in your holiday decorations, that have nothing to do with a product, per se, but reinforce the message of salvaging and recycling, which is a critical component of The Green Goddess’s mission.
In all sincerity, though, Rembos walks the walk of her shops’ mission. “It’s not just about carrying eco-friendly jewelry or clothing,” she says. “We try to recycle and use salvaged materials for our props, too.”
Communicating the shop’s global style and mission isn’t restricted to the shops’ physical locations. Rembos and her team use social media heavily. She hesitates to give heavier weight to one medium over another because she feels strongly that each tool feeds off of the other.
“Facebook is important to us because we use it to communicate regularly with our customers,” she says. She is quick to add that they are strategic in how they use Facebook and “don’t use it to throw coupons in your face all day.” She loves how Pinterest shows a visual storyboard featuring not only products (which, in fact, of 15 boards, only one is dedicated to new arrivals) but also ways you can wear stacked bangles, how to show off your inner goddess and bohemian home decor.
She also participated in a city of Chicago initiative that involved planting and harvesting wildflowers in vacant lots to create a new fragrance: Tru Blooms. The Green Goddess Boutique is among a handful of Chicago-based independent retailers to carry the perfume made from indigenous-sourced ingredients. As in everything Rembos does, she made their participation into an experience by hosting a launch party at her store and generating great press as a result.
“The world is becoming smaller and smaller,” she says. “There is no stopping it. We need to embrace it.”
She loves traveling and seeing how people in different parts of the world carry their own unique sense of style. While she prefers great design, visiting hotels and appreciates architecture in person rather than visiting websites for inspiration, this green goddess also enjoys checking out the travel websites, too. Because, in true green goddess style, it’s all about the attitude.