Punch Profiles: People to Know / 8 Questions with Meringue Clothing Owners Jordan Chadwell & Nicole Raithel
Think you got what it takes to be an entrepreneur, a wife, a mommy and run a business in the fashion retail industry? Me neither. But Jordan Chadwell (32) and Nicole Raithel (31), the friends turned business owners and partners, turned mommies and still friends, took a leap of faith by turning their dreams into reality. Today, they own and manage Meringue Clothing, a darling boutique on N Highland Ave, Rd NE in Atlanta and are all of the above. These savvy businesswomen are hip and stylish in person and online and are an inspiration to anyone who thinks she can do it all.
Pamela’s Punch: Tell us how you launched Meringue. What was the inspiration and how did you come up with the name?
Jordan Chadwell: Both Nicole and I had dreams of opening our own clothing boutiques growing up, for me it was actually all I ever wanted to or could see myself doing. I knew in high school it was what I was going to do. I’m sure coming from a family of entrepreneurs and all those lemonade stands I had growing up, led me to start my own business!
After Nicole and I met working together at National Jean Company in Bethesda, MD in 2006 we instantly clicked and it wasn’t long before we began planning Meringue.
Believe it or not Nicole’s husband (Cameron) came up with the name Meringue. Nicole and I were always eating desserts (candy, our favorite yoforia yogurt, cupcakes, you name it). We knew we wanted something that sounded southern and feminine so that combined with our love of sweets and the name Meringue was born!
PP: You have to be so ahead of the curve in fashion, what practices do you do in order to keep fresh and get the best new inventory?
Nicole Raithel: We both read every fashion magazine currently in print every month and we are constantly (daily basis I would say) perusing the top fashion shopping websites to see what’s trending and what’s selling and how it is being presented. Then it is off to market in New York and here in Atlanta where we do our buying for each season. The shows often inspire us and give us our creative merchandising ideas.
PP: What designers do you carry?
JC: We carry probably over 75 designers at a given time and we are continuously seeking out and picking up new lines. We try as hard as we can to offer something different than the neighboring stores around us.
PP: Who are some of your favorite designers and how would you describe your own personal style?
NR: I would say a few of our favorites and best sellers are Bailey44, Parker, Paige Denim, Joie, Joes Jeans, Patterson J Kincaid, MIH Jeans, Splendid, Akiko and Ella Moss. And be on the look out for two new lines we plan to add this fall; Wkshp tees and DL1961 Denim.
JC: Nicole and I have similar but at the same time different personal styles. I tend to gravitate towards the classic, less trendy pieces in more neutral tones (although I am coming around with this new neon trend) while Nicole prefers the bright colors and often flashier styles. It is actually a great combination because it gives our customers a lot of variety.
PP: Who is the “Meringue Girl”?
JC: We would say the “Meringue Woman” is a mom and/or young professional between the ages of 30-55 who wants to keep her wardrobe fresh and cares about her appearance. Our customers tend to lean on the side of conservative but not so much so, that all they buy are blazers and dress pants. They enjoy that occasional fun piece in a bright color.
PP: You’ve started a larger web presence and are using social media to market, how has that changed running your business? What have you found to be the advantages and challenges?
NR: We are working hard every day to find our “web” customer. It is a much bigger market and therefore much more challenging. With the store, it’s as easy as opening our front door each morning. On the web, there are endless places to shop and finding our “niche” is quite the feat. We have found social media to be very helpful and crucial to our success online. Staying in our customers mind is of the utmost importance. Currently, we write daily Facebook posts and put ads on our company page. We use Twitter to tweet on our own personal fashion advice or to note new items that may be arriving soon and we send emails out to our customers detailing our upcoming events.
Keeping the homepage and the site up to date and fresh is always important as well. Therefore we are constantly adding new images and inventory. We offer free shipping on all domestic orders and a $30 flat rate fee for all international destinations. We think we have a great site with great products and it’s just a matter of time before it takes off!
PP: What’s next for Meringue?
JC: Currently our focus is on growing our website. But additionally we hope to see more Meringue storefronts throughout the southeast. Some areas we are currently considering are Nashville, Charleston, SC and Charlotte. So stay tuned….!
PP: You are wives, mommies, run a business and your homes; how in the world do you do it all? Do you have any advice for young up and coming women entrepreneurs in the fashion world?
JC & NC: GREAT HELP is how we do it! We have a fantastic team here that’s always on top of it. It’s a fun business and we love coming to work every day and doing what we do. Our advice to other young entrepreneurs is GO FOR IT! What’s the worst thing that can happen? We say nothing because even if your idea isn’t profitable you will know you tried and gave it a chance. Instead of wondering what could have been. It can be hard work but it definitely pays off in the end and we must say, being able to make your own schedule is nice too.
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Follow Meringue Clothing on Twitter at @MeringueCloth and become their Fan on Facebook. If you are in Atlanta, make sure to stop by the store and say hi to the ladies in person: 1393 N Highland Ave, Rd NE, Atlanta, GA 30306 | Hours: Mon – Fri 10AM – 7PM, Sun 12Pm – 5PM Phone:404-724-0960.
Pamela Lynne Sorensen is the founder of Pamela’s Punch, a leading source of information for the “who, what, when, and where” of Washington, DC’s elite social, professional, and philanthropic scene, which she founded in November of 2006. In 2012 she launched Pacific Punch, based in Los Angeles. Pamela comes from an extensive background in sales and business development from a variety of industries, has been involved with charities and fundraising for a number of years and holds several Board and leadership positions. She currently resides in Arlington, Virginia and when she’s not out on the town, she’s reading or writing while sipping fine wine, or traveling the country and the world ISO adventures, beauty, fun, food, style, libations, music, and the good life. Follow her on Twitter at @pamelaspunch.