In Marketplace

Hemberger's J. Bird adds to Third Ward fashion movement

There's a fashion explosion going on in the Third Ward and Jennifer Hemberger is ready to be a part of the action.

Joining the likes of Lela, Hers and Blush, Hemberger hopes to open J. Bird Boutique in the retail level of the Gas Light Lofts, 425 E. Menomonee St., by early October. J. Bird is a nickname Hemberger received as a child by her father and grandfather. Like the store, the name has special meaning to her. The space according to Hemberger will "blend femininity with a downtown urban edge."

From hands-on retail experience, post high school and college, to working as a national sales manager for six years dealing in children's jewelry kits and women's costume jewelry, Hemberger understands fashion and the retail world.

"I fell in love with it," says Hemberger. She has traveled and witnessed the ins and outs and is ready to venture on her own.

Just like other entrepreneurs, her boutique idea lingered and enticed until she finally put it to paper in March 2004. "I want it to offer contemporary, affordable, fashion-forward, fun clothing," says Hemberger. She is targeting professional women ages 25-44 that live or work in the downtown area, but believes the market will extend beyond that target group.

Hemberger is devoted to the Third Ward, being a resident herself, and is excited about being a part of its continued development as well as the growth of the fashion industry in Milwaukee.

"Fashion in Milwaukee is up-and-coming. The interest and appreciation is here, so now it's about accessibility," comments Hemberger. "My job as a boutique owner is to offer something not available by mass merchants and to put a friendly face with the shopping experience."

Hemberger will offer several lines of jeans to fit a woman's body. Blu Jeanious, worn by the likes of Halle Berry, Bella Dahl with its butt lifter construction and the '80s flashback Z. Cavaricci will be the stronghold name brands. Lara Miller fine knitwear and numerous other clothing options will provide great new additions to the closets of Milwaukee women.

J. Bird will also offer several accessory lines such as cell phone bags, sterling silver jewelry and buttery-soft Brazilian leather purses. You will also find a line of candles and lotions made of soy. These and many other products will be one-of-a-kind, J. Bird-only merchandise.

Hemberger already made her first sale over the phone to a client in Colorado. J. Bird Boutique was the closest merchant for a specific line of purses the woman collects. In addition to distinctive products, Hemberger will have a stylist coming in once a month to lead workshops for her customers. Holiday gift ideas, how to clean out your closet and blending trendy pieces with your existing wardrobe are some of topics that will be discussed. Milwaukee has a lot to look forward to.

Hemberger is accumulating merchandise from New York and Chicago as well as seeking out unknown designers to bring fresh looks not typically found in Wisconsin. "I want there to be a greater choice for women in Milwaukee. Fashion is an expression of how you feel on the inside and who you are. You should always feel good in your clothes," affirms Hemberger.

She is enjoying her entrepreneurial experience and finds the women-owned businesses in the Third Ward to be inspiring and supportive. With a variety of great restaurants, shops and art galleries as well as a large number of condos owned by professional women, she feels it is the right place to be. "It is time to make the Third Ward a great shopping destination," says Hemberger.

"We all stand to benefit from one another. We all have something different to offer," explains Hemberger. "Having the support of my peers is unbelievable."

Hemberger wants people to come and experience shopping in the Third Ward and enjoy the community she calls home. She wants to know her customers and seek things out for them. Most all she wants the J. Bird Boutique experience to be relaxed and fun.

Talkbacks

OMCreader | Oct. 26, 2005 at 9:16 p.m. (report)

Erin Guiney said: rock on! im so excited to hear that the mid-west is getting a bit more fashion forward somthing that has lacked for awhile. i am very interested to hear what other clothing and jewlery lines that are coming to bird boutique. the brizilian leather bags sound fabulous i thimk i might be making a road trip to milwaukee soon to check it out. is there a website?

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