For Jennifer Marks, no clothing item makes the cut without a vetting process. Before choosing a designer to spotlight in her Tremont boutique, Makers by J. Marks, she takes a sample piece home and treats it like any customer would.
"[I'm] washing it, wearing it, doing all the things that we do with clothes — throw it on the floor, step on it, fall over it in the morning," says Marks.
The St. Louis native knows how to make her clothes work for her. She has owned boutiques on and off since 1993, when she dropped out of college to open her own maternity boutique at just 19. She also worked briefly as a Nordstrom buyer and professionally styled more than 500 clients, including Madeleine Albright and Jill Biden.
"The last thing [my clients] have time for is to keep running back to the mall, keep running back to boutiques and buying things constantly," she says.
The garments you'll find inside Marks' new brick-and-mortar spot set to open March 1 — just a block away from the pop-up shop she opened in November — are practical, figure-flattering and last for the long haul. Scoop up the Chicago-based Elegantees Kilee T ($48), a three-quarter-sleeve tunic finished with a seam down the spine to prevent bagginess, or try the Valerie Dumaine Little Black Dress ($189), made from spun bamboo that's machine-washable.
The new digs, accented with bright, warm colors and dimmed lights, aims to be a cozy haven for customers.
"Getting dressed in the morning should not be a chore," Marks says. "It should be something that's pleasurable that fits your day."
WHEN YOU GO: Makers by J.Marks 1028 Kenilworth Ave., Cleveland, 216-777-9752,makersstyle.com
Evaluating your closet before hitting the racks will help you save time and money.
Hidden Gems: Revisiting what garments you already own can help spark new ideas, Marks says. "A lot of times, we find pieces at the back of the closet that just got pushed. [The client's] thinking, I really wish I had a top with some color. Sometimes it's in the closet."
Think Less: Marks snaps photos of her clients' new and old clothes in a complete outfit and presents them in a portfolio fashion. "By getting yourself organized and knowing what is in your wardrobe that works, and how it works, it saves you time in the morning and money when you shop."
Visit tattoo shop Kollective Studio to get inked or just get inspired by its whimsical works of flowers and cats. 112 Kenilworth Ave., Cleveland, 216-862-0799, kollectivestudio.com