Couture Pieces Without the Price Tag
This week’s Brooklyn Business Owners Spotlight Series features ANVU NYC, a boutique focused on bringing both trendy and classic pieces from the owner’s favorite cities to Brooklyn — but at affordable prices.
The prices of many specialty boutiques in Williamsburg have gotten so high that many people in the neighborhood can’t shop at them. Named for its owner, An Vu, ANVU offers the neighborhood a place for last-minute outfit shopping for unique, yet affordable pieces. What excites customers most is that the merchandise looks and feels high end, but isn’t priced like it. Almost everything falls below the $100 price point.
“They’ll look at the price of something and exclaim, ‘Oh I thought this was going to be $300!’” said An.
A self-proclaimed retail veteran, An opened her first store in Nolita on Prince Street in 2004. In 2012, she closed it and ran a few stores in Florida remotely from New York.
For An, who runs the shop alone, personalized customer service is key, which is why her biggest challenge is finding good, part-time staff. She says anyone she brings onto the ANVU team must share her passion for not only the business but also its customers. In addition, they must share a similar sense of style.
Like many startups, An doesn’t have a large marketing budget, so she relies on word of mouth and her growing social media following. While building her following organically, she uses social media to stay in touch with and retain customers through visually appealing, compelling and shoppable posts.
According to An, nothing beats meeting customers face to face, seeing them touch and feel your product, and giving them personalized service. Still, she’s thankful that the major shift from traditional retail to e-commerce provides a platform for indie brands to reach new audiences. That can mean getting creative with product storytelling. Today’s customer often wants to know the story behind a product. Many even prefer spending their money on a product they know was created with real passion and that has a story behind it.
“I love collaborating with indie brands to provide them with the space and infrastructure to do pop-ups so that they can introduce their products to customers in real life,” An said.
In the future, look for expanded virtual styling from ANVU. An’s goal is to make shopping easier and more accessible. She has an affinity for styling customers and encouraging them to try pieces that may be out of their comfort zone. She’s also noticed that many tourists stop by and enjoy taking a little piece of Brooklyn home with them.
“But why stop there?” An said. “They should be able to order a piece of Brooklyn whenever they want.”
Through personalized styling videos, she creates 4-7 looks for her virtual clients, then ships everything for at-home try-on. Clients use the video as guidance for styling and can return items that don’t work for them.
“I really enjoy people thinking ‘Wow, I never would have tried this, but I love it!’ That’s what I’m here for!”
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