Located on the cusp of downtown Winston-Salem, Mellie & Emilia has become a well-known urban boutique within just one short year of being opened. During that time, owners Courtney Myers and Lauren Schneider have made sure to treat every customer who walks through the door like one of their friends.
The idea of owning a modern, upscale women’s boutique developed a little more than two years ago. After talking through their ideas and deciding on the logistics, Courtney and Lauren turned their words into actions and Mellie & Emilia officially opened on March 31, 2017.
“It was very much of a “do it now or we’ll always we wished had” moment and we decided to just go for it,” said Lauren.
With the support of their families, Lauren and Courtney designed the shop to be contemporary with a simple and clean layout and a focus on the merchandise. The boutique carries over 40 clothing and accessory lines, including locally made ACE Earrings, Cooper & Ella, Jenny Bird, and Unpublished Denim. Customers can find a wide selection of shirts, jackets, sweaters, dresses, skirts, pants, bags, wallets, and jewelry. According to Lauren and Courtney, at Mellie & Emilia, you can find the latest trends and styles for women of all ages, from the 20 something to the 50 something.
“We try to find the brands you don’t see everywhere else. Courtney and I go to a New York show twice a year and they have over 1,000 vendors and labels. There we’ll see the trends that we’ll bring back to our customers,” Lauren said.
In addition to keeping up to date with the latest in fashion, Mellie & Emilia is a strong supporter of featuring local products in the shop. Courtney noted that they carry a line of jewelry and accessories from Raleigh and Charlotte artists, and love working with local artists on discovering new lines for their customers, who are in the forefront of everything Lauren and Courtney do.
A Personalized Experience for Every Customer
“One of our main goals is for people to feel comfortable while shopping. Sometimes you walk into other boutiques and the atmosphere is uptight with high pressured sales people. That is not us; we are very laid back and want people to feel like they are coming to shop while hanging out with their friends,” explained Lauren.
“Most of the pieces we purchase for the store are based on our styles and what we think customers will like,” shared Courtney. “Most of the time, Lauren and I shop with a person in mind because we like to get to know our customers.”
This personalization is shown in the duo’s shared passion for developing relationships with their customers. They encourage people to take their time, browsing and trying on the various clothing pieces and accessories.
“We’ve had customers come in and are ready for a new outfit or something to wear for a special dinner or just to wear during the day. Lauren and I will talk with the customer to see what colors they like, their style, what they are most comfortable in, etc. Then we’ll see what type of outfit they are looking for. Sometimes people have no idea and we’ll help them think outside of the box to find the perfect look for them. Our goal is to have our customers trust us. We encourage you to try something on and we’ll be honest. If something doesn’t look good, we’ll tell you,” said Courtney.
“We’re not going to just sell you something to make a sale,” responded Lauren. “If a customer doesn’t really know what they want, we’ll start pulling pieces that relate to a person’s style and go from there. People will surprise you with their choices.”
According to the friends, they encourage customers to take their time shopping, don’t rush, and let them see your outfit if you are unsure of how it looks.
“We have one customer who always comes into the boutique. She doesn’t always buy, but always asks us to be honest about a piece. We want customers to feel good about their shopping experience and feel as if they have friends in Lauren and me,” Courtney explained.
To help give customers a relaxed and pleasant shopping experience, Mellie & Emilia has a kids’ room. Inside, the room is filled with various toys, a little kitchen, train, comfy sofa, and a television. As moms themselves, Courtney and Lauren designed the room to be a place to entertain kids, while their mothers shopped.
“Customers hear about the kids’ room and love it. Sometimes it is hard to find the time to browse, and knowing moms can bring their kids and they’ll be occupied, makes all the difference. A few of our repeat customers bring their kids all the time to the room, while they hang out and look around the boutique,” stated Lauren.
A Love for their Community
Both Courtney and Lauren have called Winston-Salem home for many years. They are involved in various community organizations and events. This commitment to helping others in their area has spilled over into Mellie & Emilia. Each month, the boutique features a local nonprofit and a portion of their sales are donated to that charity.
“We are fortunate to have been able to open the boutique and decided to give back to the community that supports us. Also, we wanted to support people who are supporting others,” explained Lauren.
In 2017, Mellie & Emilia worked with charities including The Enrichment Center, Bethesda Center, The Piedmont Down Syndrome Support Network, Lillie’s Friends, and The Dragonfly House. So far, this year the shop has supported Imago Dei in January and are currently giving to Just Hope, Inc.
“There is no certain way we choose a place. Sometimes the charities have a special connection to us or we have volunteered with them. Other times, places approach us. There are many places in the area and we want to help as many as we possibly can. The charities are always so grateful and we love building new relationships with people,” said Courtney.
Lauren added that they focus on creating meaningful relationships with nonprofits in the same way they focus on creating relationships with their customers. The boutique strives to not repeat the same charity within a two-year period.
Their charity of the month partnership isn’t the only way Courtney and Lauren engage with the community. The boutique also hosts various events throughout the year. They have held a grand opening, trunk shows, date nights and holiday styling, as well as, a sweat, sip, and shop event with local health expert, Momsanity. In addition, the team has thought of throwing a charity event. With a great space for events, they are always open to ideas.
“Lauren and I love to be social. Any time is a good time for a party,” joked Courtney.
Plans are already in the works for a big surprise to celebrate the boutique’s one year anniversary in March.
Living a Dream
Looking into the future, the pair has big plans for Mellie & Emilia. Some goals already on their list are expanding their products offered, such as shoes, and perhaps opening a second store in a different location. No matter what happens, Courtney and Lauren are thrilled and excited to be doing what they love.
“This really is a dream come true! Getting to come here every day is pretty cool,” said Courtney.
“We’ve had the vision and gone from talking about it to making the idea a reality. That is just rewarding in itself. Then, getting to meet new people, listening to their stories, watching the interactions between customers of all ages makes the experience of owning the boutique so fun and enjoyable,” Lauren added.
The moment someone walks through the doors of Mellie & Emilia, they can easily see the passion of the owners and how much they are invested in their customers and boutique. With a commitment and desire to build relationships with their customers and their community, and with always being on the lookout for the latest trends and unique pieces, owners Lauren and Courtney are on the right track for a bright future for Mellie & Emilia.
Mellie & Emilia is located at 365 Peters Creek Parkway in Winston-Salem. Hours of operation are Tuesday-Friday from 11 am – 6 pm and Saturday from 11 am – 4 pm. Call (336) 930 – 5303 or visit online at mellieemilia.com. Be sure to follow them on Facebook and Instagram.