Growing up on the outskirts of New York, BethAnn Hoyos and Lorrinda Cerrutti, co-owners of The Velvet Fly, a vintage clothing boutique in the North End, each spent time traveling into the city on the lookout for one-of-a-kind vintage items. When they met years later in Cambridge, Hoyos, then a clothing store manager, and Cerrutti, a high school art teacher, wanted to replicate that experience for others. "We knew there was a need for a boutique like this in Boston that carried both modern and vintage clothing at a reasonable price," explained Hoyos, "and from that thought The Velvet Fly was born." A year after launching their venture, the duo's hoping to expand their offerings, and has even dipped a toe into the world of celebrity styling. Recently, they were thrilled to see Baby Phat clothing designer and TV personality Kimora Lee Simmons wearing some of their fashionable finds on her Style Network show "Kimora: Life in the Fab Lane." Hoyos caught us up on the details.
Q. How did the styling opportunity with Simmons come about?
A. We understand that someone from Kimora's team, or her stylist Lauri Eisenberg's team, came into our store and liked it and took a card. We were in total disbelief when Eisenberg contacted us and told us we would be helping style [Simmons]. We were very honored and excited to be asked.
Q. What impact does that sort of thing have on sales or the profile of the store?
A. We hope that this opportunity will broaden our client base and make us available to work with more personal and celebrity stylists.
Q. As a retailer, what do you do to set yourself apart?
A. Most of the clothing we carry you won't find at the other boutiques in Boston. We use a combination of small independent designers mixed with major companies and then we add in the vintage pieces that are one of a kind. Anyone who buys a vintage garment we take a Polaroid of and put up on our bulletin board to help us catalog what we sell and because there are no two garments alike. Most days Lorrinda and I are here helping personally outfit our customers while some of our great regular customers come in to lounge on the couches and offer advice while looking for their own outfit to wear out that night. We have a lot of fun. That's the best part of the job.
Q. How have you been keeping things affordable?
A. We try to keep our prices consistent. Lorrinda and I like to put ourselves in our customers' shoes and try to find garments that are well priced and establish a wide price range to accommodate most people's wallets. It's an ongoing battle to fine good quality items for reasonable prices.