LFM #10 – Anna on Fashion, Work Friends, and Celebrating Your Style

Anna and I were introduced by one of my most fashionable friends a few years ago; somehow I found out that she had a degree in Fashion Merchandising (from Southern Illinois University) and between my love of fashion and Elle Woods, I instantly wanted to know more about Anna. She has her own fashion boutique near the University of Illinois campus, Fira Boutique, and is a mom of baby Andie, nine months old.

INSPIRED

“We have so much fun in the mornings,” Anna says of her daily routine with her boutique employees. “We have such a great Fira family. It’s so important to enjoy the people you work with.”

Not only does Anna like the people she works with; she likes the work she’s doing. While in college pursuing an Elementary Education degree, Anna realized during her junior year that fashion merchandising was what she really wanted to do. “I didn’t even realize that was something I could do, and then it hit me,” Anna says. “My grandfather had a men’s clothing store he took over from his father, P. Larson Co… I feel like it’s in my blood! I was like, ok, I’m supposed to do this.”

Anna created Fira as a traveling boutique in 2011; “I was basically a traveling vacuum salesman,” Anna jokes. “I took out a small, very small loan, and began knocking door to door at sororities on campus and pitching to the girls to do sorority shopping events. I’d bring in 200 pieces of clothing or so, and the girls loved it… they really took a leap of faith with me, just a girl carrying around clothes! Word got around, other people started calling, I started branching out to home parties, and after two years, I had the money for a brick and mortar location.”

Anna wakes up every morning at about 6 a.m., hops in the shower, and her husband, Nick, takes Andie while she gets her hair and makeup done. “He does her morning routine; I do her evening routine—it works out!” Anna says. She always makes sure to say goodbye to Nick and then Andie before arriving at the boutique by 8:30. “That’s when my day really begins,” Anna says. “If I haven’t already had my K-cup of coffee, we’ll go to the Starbucks down the street, where they know our names, and I’ll make a good, old-fashioned to-do list. I used to make more elaborate breakfasts before Andie was born, but now I’m all about grabbing peanut butter toast and getting to the store.”

The first thing on the to-do list? Going live on Facebook. “We used to have an online store, and then a second physical location, but it was just a little too much going on—the Facebook group is awesome, and really a better way of selling than just the online store, because you can see the clothes on a body, in motion, and relate to someone.” Anna and her employees all have a good relationship with the UPS man. “We have so much fall inventory coming right now,” Anna laughs, “so we follow his route and make sure we know as soon as it’s coming!”

Anna really wanted to make sure that everyone has a personalized experience when they shop and visit her boutique. “The presentation is so important; I want everyone who walks in to feel like they’re a guest in someone’s house… we have a candle going, we want to make sure you’re greeted like a friend, helped with anything you need.” Before opening Fira, Anna and her husband Nick would go shopping to all different stores and evaluate the store experience—Were you welcomed? Were the displays interesting? “All the senses are important in this—so important that we have each new employee do this themselves, going to different stores and evaluating the experience at each level. I was taught to do this at a bridal store I worked for, and it’s been what’s made our experience so unique and fun, making sure we’re getting it right for what we want.”

From the style books on the (gilded) coffee table to the velvet couch and gorgeous chandelier, Fira definitely makes you feel like you’re in a (fashionable) friend’s home. Anna solely hand-picks all the styles Fira offers using a combination of her own style and what she feels a broad range of ages would like. “I like to push the envelope of unique new trends with a mixture of classic, timeless pieces,” she says. “I like to think—what did I like, exploring my 20s? What’s now, as a confident woman in her 30s? What style embodies a young, fashion-forward mother who takes time for herself? I want to celebrate all of that.”

“My family has a long Swedish heritage,” Anna says, “‘Fira’ is a Swedish term, meaning ‘to celebrate.’ I wanted to celebrate life and style every day, and bring that to my community and customers.”

May your day be full of celebration, friends. You can follow Fira Boutique on Instagram, join the Fira Boutique Insiders Facebook Group, and follow Anna on Instagram as well. 

I wanted to celebrate life and style every day.