Fashion isn’t about how expensive your clothes are or what top brand you’re wearing. It’s a “preference of how you like to look”, says the great designer Kris Cole. You can be trendy and thrifty at the same time and business owner Ebony Robinson, owner of Er The Element of Style, is the person to shop with. She’s had her business for three years now and it’s more trendy than your local franchise thrift stores and Goodwill. She talks about the story behind the name, her purpose for it and bringing awareness to the global waste crisis.
DELUX: What is the story behind the name of your business ?
Ebony: Er The Element Of Style, is a mash up of who I use to be and who I am now. I wanted to combine my love for fashion and science. I feel the most in my element when I’m styling or buying clothes. One night in 2014 God gave me this vision in my dreams. When I woke up I looked up the periodic table; and there it was “Er” my initials! It made perfect sense to me Style is my “element”; and my name is apart of the foundation of science, the earth’s elements!
DELUX: That’s a dope concept! What made you want to sell thrift clothes ?
Ebony R: Thrifting was my saving grace when I went to college in Chicago. It allowed me to stay stylish on a dime! That’s when I realized I couldn’t be the only one struggling to stay on budget and look cute. I figured people would enjoy affordable vintage pieces without going through all the racks and piles of clothes that comes with thrift shopping. I love thrifting so I thought it would be the perfect marriage.
DELUX: What makes your thrift items different from a Goodwill or Red Racks?
Ebony R: Me! Goodwill and Red Racks aren’t stylist. They just throw clothes on the racks and price them. I try to style my items on the racks so my customers can get inspired about the many ways they can wear them. I give my customers suggestions on what they can do with each piece to elevate it. Most people walk past gems at goodwill because they don’t see the vision of what that item could be. I can see those gems and present them to you with a touch of styling advice.
DELUX: That’s helpful to actually help customers see the vision of what they can do with the item! So, what is your process like when selecting items to sell?
Ebony R: I look for color, texture, and material when I’m in a vintage or thrift store. I place EVERY single item I like in my cart ; and at the end I do a process of elimination. It’s truly a gut feeling I have when deciding which items to sell and which to throw back. Usually the items I select are on trend which still amazes me. I’ll go to urban outfitters or ASOS and see the same items on their sites months later.
DELUX: What’s the most stressful part of your job ?
Ebony R: Honestly multiple things! Top two are processing inventory and loading and unloading on pop up days. Processing Inventory is mad exhausting and can take weeks! Each item is 1of1 for my business, so takings pictures, uploading descriptions etc, can be draining. Setting up a pop up is challenging because of the all the manual labor! I can’t tell you how many nails I’ve broke during this process.
DELUX: Do you feel like you are in a competitive business due to this era of boutiques?
Ebony R: No, I truly feel like there’s enough money out here for everyone. Each boutique has their own clientele and business practices which makes us all unique in some way.
DELUX: That’s true and a very supportive statement. Where do you see your business going in the next five years?
Ebony R: In the next five years, I pray that I will have a fashion truck and multiple locations in different cities. I see my business bringing awareness to the global waste crisis by promoting the benefits of recycled clothing. I also see my business helping upcoming designers and business owners with scholarships and sponsorships. I see my business being a leader in helping our community heal in multiple areas by promoting individuality and equality. Whew, chile I have a lot to do!
DELUX: YES! But it will be worth it! Since you’re celebrating your second annual pop up shop, how are you making yours is different than any other pop-ups up this going on since there are so many?
Ebony R: This should really be my 3rd Annual but I didn’t take myself seriously but that’s another story lol! Since starting my business in 2016 I’ve always wanted my customers to also be the buyers for my shop! So I will be introducing Er The Element Of Style Buy X Sell X Trade! Each customer can bring a maximum of 5 gently worn pieces of clothing to sell or trade for 35% of its resale value. I believe this will make the pop up even more interactive and unique by allowing the customers to be apart of the experience instead of just being a shopper.
DELUX: That’s a really unique concept and should bring in a lot of customers. Thanks for talking with us about your brand and the future of it!
Ebony R: Thank you soo much for the opportunity.
Ebony will be hosting her Second Annual Spring Pop Up Shop on Saturday May 25 at Fresh + Co [4366 Manchester Ave], 2:00pm – 8pm. She will also have several other vendors there and importantly, she will have a raffle and the proceeds will go towards Lupus Awareness Month.
You can follow her on Instagram @Er_TheElementofStyle and Facebook @Er The Element of Style