Rambling Rose boutique on Main Street in New Paltz celebrated its 25th anniversary in July. Proprietor Julie Mazur credits the longevity of her business to “a loyal cadre of people who believe in shopping local.” Tourism doesn’t have much of an effect on her shop, she says; most of her clientele are women who live in the area and those with second homes here. “We’re very fortunate we have a strong local base of customers.”
They come to Rambling Rose for personalized service. “That’s what we’re really all about,” says Mazur. “Connecting and caring for the customer. I think what’s different about retail from 1993 when I opened, to now, is that then I just had a store and filled it with clothes, and people came in and bought them. Now you have to be much more focused in a niche. Anybody can order anything off the Internet, so you have to offer people something that’s different.”
But that’s actually the way Mazur prefers to run her business. “I like to work one-on-one with women, to help them really feel good about themselves. That’s what I love. You can’t get that connection online, and I think that’s what it comes down to with the store; it’s really become just about caring for people.”
Mazur hand-picks each piece of clothing that she sells, buying just a few of any one style so that a woman can feel she’s wearing something unique. Garments are made either in the U.S. or Canada or in factories that are socially responsible, she notes. Looking around the store, it seems that many items are one-of-a-kind, but Mazur says that in those cases, she probably bought three of something and the first two sold already. Often she’ll buy clothing for the store with specific customers in mind, but even if that person doesn’t end up buying the piece, it will be just right for someone else. And if an item in the window looks appealing, don’t wait; it won’t be there next month.
Over the years, Rambling Rose has been known for their selection of dresses. Many customers come in because they have an event to go to and want something special to wear. A perusal of the curated selection of clothing and accessories in the shop reveals up-to-date details, but Mazur says the collection is chosen primarily not by trend but to flatter the wearer and express her customer’s individual style.
“When I first opened, it was the ‘90s; the era of flax, and linen, and everything was loose and oversized. Now I’m focused on offering what really looks good on people: I’m more concerned with flattering the body shape.”
Custom tailoring is available on-site, in the basement of the store, where tailor Eva Reinerts operates her own tailoring shop amidst a myriad of projects in-progress.
The personalized services Mazur offers through Rambling Rose include bra-fitting, “closet cleansing” and the newest offering, executive styling. All of it is about making shopping simple, she says. “A lot of my ladies are busy, working many hours a week. If they have time off, they don’t want to spend it shopping; they’d rather be with their families or relaxing. I have a few who just love to shop, but not many. So the idea is more goal-oriented; ‘let’s do this.’ It’s about trying to make women feel cared for and make their lives easier.”
As a trained bra-fitter, Mazur does consultations with women to help them find the correct size to flatter their body. Most women don’t wear the size they really need; a recent survey puts the number at 80 percent wearing the wrong size, but Mazur says she thinks it’s even higher than that. A bra-fitting session can benefit a woman because bra sizes are confusing, and it’s difficult figuring out how to measure properly on one’s own.
Rambling Rose’s “closet consultation” service, or “closet cleansing,” which is probably a more apt description, involves Mazur visiting a client’s home by appointment to go through their closet with them and eliminate the items that don’t work. The client tries on various items, and together they discern what garments make her look and feel her best. Mazur makes recommendations, and the clothing is sorted into piles to keep, repair, tailor or donate.
The executive styling business launched recently was inspired, Mazur says, by her involvement with various women’s groups in the area; the Chamber of Commerce’s WOW — “the Wisdom of Women” — and Hudson Valley Women in Business. “Being a member of these groups has really inspired me to work more on dressing professional and entrepreneurial women. It can be tough, when you hit 45, or 50, and your body has changed; you don’t quite know what to wear anymore. That’s where what we offer is a big help.”
The concept of the executive styling service is to educate the customer and help them feel comfortable about where they are now. “There’s no point in saying, ‘I used to be a size two,’” Mazur points out. “Let’s dress for how you are today; you’re still beautiful.” The idea is to help women dress in a professional way for where they want to be, she adds, as opposed to having to dress how they think they should be dressing. “And sometimes it’s good to get people to step outside of the box and introduce some new things. It’s very individualized.”
Mazur’s voice retains a trace of an accent that comes from growing up in Cheshire, England. She inherited her sense of style, she says, from her “mum,” who was a knitwear designer, and her photographer dad. She knew early on that she wanted to be a fashion buyer and ultimately have her own boutique. After employment in a coveted executive training position at Harrods, London, she attended graduate school in the U.S., where she met her now-husband, Alex. They married in 1983 and Julie left Harrods and London to move permanently to America, first in the West and finally to New Paltz, Alex’s hometown. That longtime dream of owning her own boutique came true in July of 1993 when Rambling Rose opened its doors. She currently resides in Gardiner with husband Alex and daughter, Lily, 16.
Plans for the future at Rambling Rose include getting the executive styling program fully established, increasing the amount of personalization in the business and concentrating on her “amazing” core customers.
“I find it incredibly rewarding working one-on-one with women,” Mazur says. “I have a loyalty plan that’s called the ‘Rose Royalty Rewards,’ but I call it my ‘royal family.’ We keep a card for each member, recording their sales every time they come in, and when they fill up a card, we send them a gift certificate. Then when you complete two cards, you get to be a “crown jewel” and get all sorts of special privileges.
“And that’s one way that I can give back,” she adds. “Because I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for my ladies.”
Rambling Rose boutique is located at 73 Main Street in the village of New Paltz. For more information, call (845) 255-3899 or visit www.ramblingroseboutique.com.