Frances May, a popular Portland boutique, exudes all things lovely. Defined by their elegant and timeless energy, this sweet place is one you absolutely cannot miss.
While I was initially intrigued by the vintage feel and traditional taste of their merchandise, I quickly found many things to admire about this brand that exceeded far beyond the apparel sold in their stores. I had the pleasure of getting to know brand director, Rachel Turk, and was blown away by the intricate pieces that contribute to the success of this growing company.
Frances May was once the dream of fashion enthusiast Pamela Baker-Miller, and came to life in 2008 when she moved to Portland, Oregon. Her crystallized vision for what this brand would be challenged what other local boutiques had to offer customers. After dreaming up the details with her grandmother, Connie Codding, the two brought their vision to life and have hit the ground running ever since.
The grandmother-granddaughter relationship is a staple of the Frances May story and further establishes the sophisticated, vintage feel of the brand.
“You see the evidence in the merchandise. Connie helps Pam with the buying and the two invest in a mix of clothing that appeal[s] to different audiences.”
In combining merchandise from established designers, such as Rachel Comey and A.P.C., and meshing that with the work of local designers, including AK Studio, Better Late Than Never jewelry and Church and State, Frances May thrives on a business strategy that captivates its customers in a way its competitors don’t.
After the brand launched, “We immediately made our mark,” shares Rachel. “This is the unique mix that sets Frances May apart.”
The brand experienced rapid success shortly after it was launched and quickly expanded with a menswear line in 2009, followed by an online market place that came shortly after they widened their audience to men. While reflecting on the accomplishments of the brand thus far, Rachel notes that the “mix of personal and aspirational” that differentiates the feel of the store “reflects the size of the brand” and resembles how they are still growing.
The company has undoubtedly mastered the art of filling their stores with exceptionally beautiful merchandise, however, there’s another aspect of this company that flirts with fashion enthusiasts – the editorial.
The features are inspired by the “showcase [they] buy and [their] vision for each season.” It is evident that the creatives behind the Frances May brand know what their audiences are looking for as this segment of their blog is impressively tasteful, so much so that their photographs depict beauty that so vividly comes to life on screen.
“We work among a community of friends who are stylists, photographers, hair stylists and makeup experts to contribute to our photoshoots. [We] take each piece and style them in a way that is aspirational.”
The concept of being aspirational was consistent in my conversation with Rachel. It seems to be a theme and value among the brand as they are continuously preparing for what’s next. Pam’s vision for the company persists and contributes to the evolution of the brand, and there’s rumored to be exciting things ahead – so exciting it’s worth falling over for.
For more inspiration from Frances May: