They used to say a new style on the runways of New York City would take five years to get to Mississippi. But if Connie Brown has her way about it, it’s here in the morning. Brown’s The Hair Boutique and Salon on Mitchell Avenue in Fondren is fast becoming the warm, inviting, go-to spot for the latest looks with a personal touch.
43 year old Connie Brown grew up in Natchez. She says she’s always been into fashion and that the women of her family loved to shop. So when you hear her say “fashion is everything,” it should come as no surprise that someone with a radiology degree would open a clothing boutique. And while she has done everything from makeup to advertising sales, fashion is what she says she loves.
Customers of her Hair Salon and Boutique say they love the experience. They praise the personal attention they receive and say how much fun they have rediscovering fashion again. To help them on that journey, enter celebrity fashion stylist J. Bolin. The 30 year old Roxie, Mississippi native has, over the last seven years, worked with Amber Riley (Glee), Vivica A. Fox (Curb Your Enthusiasm) and D.B. Woodside (CSI), among others. Bolin joined the staff in October as the in-house visual and style expert after time at Dillards in visual merchandising. His services come at no cost to customers who shop with Brown.
For some, Bolin says, fashion can be intimidating. “We have some customers who know they have it going on,” he explains. “But we have some who don’t. So we want to get that lady in here who is afraid, who doesn’t know fashion, and who has lost herself in life. If she seeks it, that’s what I love.” Brown says Bolin’s good. He calls it “a gift from God.”
From zero to plus size, The Hair Boutique and Salon is up for the challenge. Bolin says those are his favorites. “Things that make me study,” he says “makes the end result fun.” Brown says staying on top of fashion, trends and colors are what bring business in the door. “You have to know it,” she says. “Do your research and know your customer.”
Merchandise moves quickly. “We are not in the storage business,” Brown says. “The stuff in my truck right now is already sold.” Bolin claims that’s because of Brown and her late night “iPad blasts.” “She sends me pictures at 3am and I have the items sold by the next day.” Indeed much of what Brown picks up from markets in L.A. or New York can be gone in a matter of hours. ‘We presale a lot of clothing and accessories,” she tells us.
At this diverse boutique that caters to all – black, white, young and old – customers are spending, despite a dragging economy. “Women are buying clothes,” Brown says. “That has shocked me.” She tells us they don’t seem to have a limit. “If they want it, they’ll buy it.” And Bolin questions us: “you saw the tags, right? $25-$70 a piece? With a chuckle, Brown says she is often asked if she should raise her prices.
The business sits amongst others on Mitchell, including Orange Peel, The Shoe Bar and Pink Lamborghini. At one time someone’s home, The Hair Salon and Boutique is comfortable, warm and inviting. Bolin says the goal is to put shoppers at ease. “We want this place to be a fashion house.” While the fashion side is hanging on bars in former bed rooms, the house side is the inviting part. Bolin says he and Brown want this to be the fashion hang out. “We call it ‘Fondren’s Fashion House.’”