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Since debuting this spring, Chestnut Hill's Style Camp has brought a well curated assortment of denim and cool, casual basics to the artsy, eclectic shopping corridor. Its warm, industrial interior welcomes shoppers with a mix of taxidermy, antique porcelain dishware, and paper lanterns strewn amongst handmade fixtures built by close family and friends.
Here, Natalie Rhoda, a teacher at Moore College of Art & Design and one half of the mother-daughter duo behind Style Camp, dishes on being the owner of the coolest new indie boutique in Philly—Latanya Vicks
Tell us about your journey to opening Style Camp.
My mother and I had always dreamed of opening boutique. My mother worked in retail and interior design for over 30 years. Friends and family were always so inspired by the design aesthetic of my mom's house and my apartment that the initial concept was a home décor store! We started planning in December 2011 by brainstorming names, saving money, and researching the market. When we learned that clothing retailed better, we shifted gears and added more apparel mixed with jewelry, gifts, and housewares to keep things interesting. By early 2013 we'd secured a lease, picked a name, and completed renovations. We launched with a soft opening on March 27th. Did you always know you wanted to be located in Chestnut Hill?
Yes. I grew up in Chestnut Hill, and my parents still live here. We know the people, the neighborhood, and the stores. I wanted Style Camp to fill a void in the community. We needed a place that serviced this age group and style, something that sold downtown-cool clothing. These are definitely classic pieces but with a funky appeal.
Who is the Style Camp woman?
The Style Camp woman is primarily in her 30s. She may be a young mom. She is sophisticated, loves to travel, go out to eat, appreciates art and classic design, but still has individual style.
What do you have in stock?
Our focus is a strong denim assortment supplemented by casual clothing and cool basics. We build a foundation with established brands like Breton tops from French label Saint James, Paper Denim, Levis Vintage Collection, and Blank NYC. Then we mix in pieces by indie and emerging designers like Imogene & Willie, Mark & Estel tops, Karen London jewelry, Daniella Lehavi bags.
What does your boutique have that others in the area do not?
We try to source locally and many of our pieces are made in the USA. We have some really unique jewelry and gifts from under-the-radar designers. Some of our candles are made in nearby Germantown at Melo Studios. We also carry socially responsible wares like Sal de Mar Sea of Cortez cooking and margarita salt in hand-stitched bags that benefit the women who stitch them and glycerin soaps from The Bird Project, which supports cleanup of the BP oil spill in New Orleans.
Do you believe fashion should be ageless?
We always say our clothes are for the woman ages 20-70. They may buy a classic piece like a white shirt or a great pair of jeans, but it's interesting to see how they style them in different ways. That's the good thing about classics: They last a lifetime.
What are your favorite pieces in-store right now?
1) Pons Avarcas sandals. So fab. They honestly do look great on everyone and they are so comfortable. I have the Taupe now, but I'm pumped for the Zebra to come in this August. 2) Denim, denim, denim. We have lots of styles that cost less than $100. 3) Pyrrha's symbolic talisman jewelry. Each piece is made from an authentic 19th century wax seal and has a meaning—creativity, fidelity, harmony, inseparable hearts, et al. 4) Saipua soaps! Made by another mother/ daughter team, these soaps are all natural, made in New York, have the coolest packaging, and smell incredible.
Besides Style Camp, where is your favorite places to shop in Philly?
I like to shop at Vagabond and Sugarcube in Old City. Arcadia in Northern Liberties has some really cool pieces. I love the owner and I used to work there. For designer pieces, Barneys is my go-to store.
You have a background in fashion design. Do you have plans to get back into designing?
Yes. I'd like to focus on designing again and introduce the Style Camp brand sometime next year, though I'm not exactly sure what yet. I love designing jewelry, so maybe a bracelet. Or it could be a top and a cool leather bag that you could wear every day. You'll have to wait and see.
· Style Camp [Facebook]
· Style Camp [Instagram]