October 3, 2022

Hualienrainbow

We Bring Good Things to Life

Verona boutique takes fresh approach to fashion-related services

Verona may not be the first place you would think of when it comes to fashion, but a recent addition to the town’s business and artistic community has added a unique set of services in Found By Flourish.

Located at 550 Jones St. and just off of Allegheny River Boulevard, Found by Flourish is owned and operated by Audrey Rockett-Collins and offers a wide array of fashion-related services, including clothing consignment, fashion mentoring, personal shopping and styling, color analysis, closet edits and re-dos, personal branding, and photo shoots.

Her signature service, though, is called the Sort, Shop, and Style, in which she offers color analysis, style archetyping, a closet edit, a personal shopping appointment and outfit building, all in one package. Customers often use the service when they are going through major life transitions, such as a career switch or a relationship change, and she utilizes a proprietary personality questionnaire similar to a Myers-Briggs test in order to identify the best way to help her clients.

“It’s a method for helping somebody track what their core personality traits are and how that specifically aligns to what types of clothing they’re likely to resonate with,” Rockett-Collins said. “It’s not an end all, be all, or meant to put somebody in a box. But it’s a way to learn something about yourself. It’s like a road map to figuring out your style. Style is so personal, and when we are being told what to wear by the media and by marketing, and also dealing with our own preferences and insecurities, it’s really easy to get lost and to keep buying what’s on trend and what’s sold to you. But style is what’s within you.

“Helping someone rediscover their image or define what their personal style is involves getting to the root cause of what the struggle is. Where is the disconnect between who they are on the inside and how they’re dressing on the outside?”

It’s in this sense that she really gets to know her clients, honing in on the coaching and mentoring aspects of her service in order to set her business apart from a typical fashion boutique or consignment shop.

“My specific approach to personal styling is based on cognitive behavioral studies: Understand who somebody is fundamentally and their core personality traits, habits they’ve formed, ideas that they’ve made part of who they are, both about their own image, the way they get dressed and the rules around how they get dressed,“ she said. “I take all of that information, kind of break it down and help them rebuild.”

Starting in Swissvale

Originally from Austin, Texas, Rockett-Collins has been a certified image consultant for almost 10 years and moved to the Pittsburgh area in 2017 with her husband and then-newborn daughter. They started in Swissvale before moving to Verona, and she credits the move to Swissvale with encouraging her to expand her business, which at the time had constricted to mostly reselling through Poshmark due to the time constraints of becoming a new mom.

“That specific community is actually part of what got me back in my business, back in the styling portion, not just reselling. Neighbors could see my style and see me thrifting around the corner at the St. Vincent de Paul and would ask questions about what I was doing. Knowing that I was home with the baby, they started giving me donations, and as word of mouth spread, people started reaching out to me for closet cleanouts once again. That’s how the business got re-established.”

“People wanted to try on the items because of the diversity in size, style, and price, but being home with the kid, it just wasn’t feasible to have people in and out of my house. But that’s when the light bulb went off about opening a brick-and-mortar.”

So when her family moved from Swissvale to Verona, it wasn’t long beforeshe started looking for a storefront, finding her current spot on Jones street in the fall of 2019 and officially moving into the location that November. She certainly appreciates the ability to have her work so close to home ,and has made the most of small-town living despite coming from a major city.

“I never really imagined myself as a store owner, but when I saw this need, I got serious about finding a space that could accommodate the volume, but intimate enough to form these close-knit relationships,” she said. “It’s convenient that its so close to home, but I love that it’s right off the main street. Being a city girl from Austin, it’s definitely not what I pictured, but it is what I love and I’m proud to part of a tight-knit community. By connecting with the local boroughs and local communities, I feel like we are able to be the change we wish to see. Being able to serve people in this community has been really important.”

Shipping the Stylebox

One of her newer services which gained popularity after she moved into her Verona store and the covid-19 pandemic hit is a Stylebox, in which she’s able to ship anywhere in the both the local area or across the country. The service is designed for clients who are less inclined to shop for themselves or are too busy to stay current with their shopping, and it has remained popular even as the pandemic has eased.

Clients receive up to eight items shipped to them, with ideas based on a proprietary questionnaire, and they keep what they want and send back the rest, only paying for the items the client elects to keep. Since 2020, Rockett-Collins has shipped over 400 boxes nationwide.

“I do a condensed questionnaire based on the Flourish archetyping method, trying to get to know the person behind the questionnaire: What’s important to her, what preferences she already has and how she’s spending her time,” Rockett-Collins said. “If she’s a stay-at-home mom, we need things that are easy to care for and comfortable, but if she’s working in corporate America, we’re going to dress her a little bit differently. Also, what sizes feel good and what brands she’s already familiar with will inform us on what her body type is really like. We can accommodate almost any budget, and because all of our inventory is secondhand, it’s fully sustainable.”

In that spirit, she started a special event.

“Even being resale, I recognize that sometimes our prices can be a little out of reach for the average person, particularly for someone who may be struggling from covid hardships,” she said. “So at the beginning of this summer, we started doing a weekly $5 sale. Every Friday, everything outside is $5.

“We’ve never turned somebody away for inability to pay. If somebody needs clothing, I have clothing.”

Seeing the stylist

She also offers clients the ability to schedule an appointment, without having to pay, to work with a stylist.

“We ask for a small deposit, but if somebody needs up to waive that, we certainly do,” Rockett-Collins said. “But it’s a really great entry point for someone who’s not sure if they can invest in a stylist, or if they’re not sure if a stylist is the right fit for them. To have an hour and a half set aside to find out what that might feel like, it’s just like taking a car for a test drive, figuring out what the experience is like.

“I find that a lot of people are intimidated by a personal stylist or by the word ‘boutique’ they don’t know what to expect. And having someone available to hold your hand through that experience opens up the door for a lot of people.”

Moving forward, Found by Flourish is looking to expand their retail space by redesigning the office at the current location, plus adding two dressing rooms.

Through it all, Rockett-Collins is dedicated to remaining size-inclusive, with offerings from double zero to 5X, along with maintaining various price points for affordability and making a positive impact in the local community with her services.

“I feel really privileged that so much of my work is confidential and people are trusting me to hear their life stories and intimate feelings about how they feel about their bodies, especially if I’m working with somebody like a new mom,” she said. “Being able to showcase new approaches to getting dressed has been a lot of fun. I think it really lifts people’s spirits. I don’t care about the actual clothing, I care about how I can use clothing as a tool to help another woman feel uplifted and empowered.”

Darren Yuvan is a Trib Total Media contributing writer.