Carrington Warner Broerman, Owner of Cincinnati Fashion Boutique, The Most Beautiful Thing in the World Is
Meet Carrington, a world-traveled business woman with rich background in art and fashion. Carrington was an art specialist and buyer in NYC. She cultivated her experiences and passions to start her own boutique, The Most Beautiful Thing in the World Is. Learn more about her unique journey, and what it takes to launch a fashion brand in our latest Her Spotlight interview.
Tell us about your shop and what makes it different?
I sell things that excite me, that I think will surprise the customer and always keep them guessing and coming back. Retail is changing and it's all about the experience. I refuse to be like any other store, to carry the same list of designers everyone else is carrying and to be typecast in one light. I don’t want my personality to inform the customer (I don’t want to be the art girl store). I’d rather customers feel they can pick and choose and use it to discover something new, take risks and develop their own personalities instead of being overshadowed by mine. Sometimes I go into stores that seem to fit such a narrow style type that I just rebel. I don’t want to be that girl necessarily. I want to be uniquely me, and in the end I always think everyone looks best when they’ve gotten to that point. They know what looks good on them (and those are the ladies who never stay faithful to one line but rather their own “look”), and they can still have fun in trying new things.
Who or what influences you when you're buying items for your shop?
My clients influence me! I have to remember that they all have different body types, different careers, and needs. That is probably the first thing you learn being a buyer - who are your customers, what are their profiles, and what needs are you servicing. But the answer after that is my travels. They have really influenced me. I opened the store after being back in the states for only 6 months and have been gone for more than 10 years. It was so odd to see everyone wearing these very unshaped, almost purposefully unflattering styles. After a month I got with the program and was like oh, okay this is what NY and LA are doing - and it’s cool. But when I was in Australia, Africa and London people are also doing fantastic stuff that is colorful, sexy, and really modern. Fashion come from really small designers that are working with communities but have big impacts in the world that are just not known about here. It was really wild to see that difference and think wow, for the first time I’m seeing so many gaps here. Whereas if I had never lived abroad I think my main point of reference would always have been NY and LA.
Where are your clothes sourced? What designers do you generally use, and why them?
I really like working with designers overseas. I use designers that I don’t think anyone in the U.S. would otherwise know about. The best part of my job is to bring them over, stock them and then see clients love them. Clients start to follow them on social media and then start asking me why I’m not carrying this sweater or this necklace from them. That’s fantastic. But it’s a challenge in terms of higher price points for freight, varying seasons, and long lead times. Otherwise I do attend the trade shows in NY and LA and meet with agents and houses. I am always curious. If I see something I like even in the most remote place, magazine, or any kind of media I will track them down.
Describe yourself and how you got started in this industry?
I'm curious and in love with the product, in love with people feeling good about themselves, and also being excited about the product. It’s contagious. I took the absolute backwards path. I went to school for Art and English and worked in Contemporary Art at the auction house Sotheby’s in NY. I felt I was living up to expectations. Nobody but mine, really. I met my husband and moved to South Africa. I took that as an opportunity to also change careers and worked my way up in retail to head buyer for womenswear at department stores and big ecommerce companies. It was a fantastic experience - going to fashion weeks throughout Africa, working hand in hand with designers on collections, and making our own collections. I am pretty much obsessed with this job.
What inspired you to open your own clothing store/boutique, specifically in Cincinnati? How did you come up with the name?
My mother died two years ago and being so far away, it broke my heart. I wanted to be with my family and Cincinnati was where most of them were, so Cincinnati it was, and luckily we love it! Regarding the name - my husband is a strategy director in advertising and is very good with words (he started as a copywriter) and came up with it. I wanted it to be a question, and I wanted people to think outside of the mainstream or the expected - about the concept of beauty and the world.
Why have you decided to have a brick and mortar business?
All of my fashion friends said the same thing! I just felt to start right now I really needed to have the physical experience of being with customers, having conversations, being “on the floor”, watching what worked and what didn’t, before I could go online. I felt it was important for me to see what the experience of the brand was before going online.
How did you turn the idea of having a store into a reality?
I just went for it. I didn’t blueprint it at all. I wanted it to evolve. I couldn’t do the oh it’s going to be all white and neutrals with a cactus kinda thing, it felt so inauthentic. I was told I had the space a month before opening, so I really had to scramble for product and it was hard. But I did set up a good framework. I have a brilliant POS system and I love seeing stock, numbers,and margin. It’s the nerdy buyer background in me. Also, I have a great accountant and great people that I work with, that was all super key, and a lot of stubbornness just to keep going and learning.
How have your travel and living experiences shaped your vision for your business?
While living in NY, I felt like I could never leave it, like it WAS the center of the world. But one day I said screw it, enough, I’m moving to Africa! I actually thought I would hate it, but I adore adore adore Cape Town! It is the most design centric, creative, beautiful place I have ever been. I lived in Australia as well, which was so much more modern than I ever thought, so much good food and FASHION! Melbourne is amazing. Anyway moving to different countries and cities is hard and scary. You are homesick for about at least a year before you feel settled, but it built my resilience. It taught me to communicate with different cultures and to really put myself out there and talk to people. When I moved to a new place I had no choice. I couldn’t stay in a rut or a routine. It really taught me more about myself.
What's your favorite summer trend?
Well, I’m now buying for next summer and I love Line by K and Lorod and bringing sexy back. I do not mean that in a crude way!!! Just if you have a small waist or a great ass - show it off! Trends for Summer 18, are definitely headed that way with much more form fitting than we have been seeing.
What are your favorite 3 items in your shop currently?
I love a lilac one arm top in cotton percale, the one side goes under your arm so you're off the shoulder is not constantly falling down or up. It’s the best! Kozha Numbers bags that we stock are bad ass and I love them a lot. They are just perfect shapes, ladylike but strong. Super good. Lastly, I’m in love with these truly dorky greeting cards we have that say things like “Sorry I ghosted you”, “I love you best”, “Good luck with your boobs”. They make me laugh. I love that.
Have you visited The Most Beautiful Thing in the World Is recently? Tell us what you like about this boutique!
With love always,
Shyra & Kristina Thomas