Having launched her boutique, Elyse Wilde, online last March, Knox native Chelsea Brooks just held the grand opening of a brick-and-mortar storefront at The Vertex, the much-anticipated shopping center in the heart of Bearden.
The shop, which sells clothing and accessories, is inspired by West Coast looks: more Bohemian, trendier, more likely to be spotted on an influencer on social media than in a print catalog.
“It’s very different from anything Knoxville has,” Brooks says.
Brooks graduated from Christian Academy of Knoxville and then studied fashion merchandising at MTSU. She took a fashion merchandising internship in California and fell in love with the state, scoring a job at one of her favorite retailers, REVOLVE.
She and her husband, Steven, loved living out west but moved back here for a job opportunity for him. Plus, she says, “All our family and friends are here. Having community support and love seals the deal.”
After the move back, she worked in the office at her dad’s orthopedic surgery practice while dreaming about her business launch. When it was time, she was ready.
She says the mentors she acquired while working in West Coast fashion are still invaluable to her, and that knowing she has their support helped give her the push she needed to open her own business.
As to why she’s opening a retail storefront instead of expanding solely in e-commerce, she likes the idea of the shop being as much of a community gathering place for women as it is a place to buy things.
She looked at several spots, including one in Rocky Hill, but was particularly intrigued by the progress of The Vertex. When she met with the developer, Tony Cappiello, she found that his vision for the center was in line with the young, contemporary feel of Elyse Wilde. She also loves that her next-door neighbor is the healthy-living spot Nekter Juice Bar. A California favorite, this is the first Tennessee location.
The “Wilde” in her boutique name comes from the California boho vibe (and also because her husband thought of it while watching an MLB wild card game). “Elyse” is her own middle name, one she grew up disliking, thinking it was old-fashioned. The journey from self-doubt to self-confidence is one that she hopes to inspire in other women, too.
“If it makes you happy, go for it,” Brooks says. “I want to help other women feel comfortable with themselves.”
Elyse Wilde is at The Vertex, 5320 Kingston Pike. Info: www.elysewilde.com.