Feature: Chicago #GirlBoss, Kristi Pawlowicz

Well, hello everyone! It’s been a while since I’ve written anything and I’ve missed creating content for you all. Thankfully, I’m back and with a bang. 
Today, I’m sharing with you an interview I had with the owner of 522 Envy, an adorable boutique in downtown Evanston. As you all already know, I’m all about being a #girlboss and you can clearly see Kristi Pawlowicz is one by reading on below! She’s here to give you some insight into her business and how it all came together.

Lincoln Park Minute: Tell us a bit about yourself in a sentence. 

Kristi Pawlowicz: One sentence? That’s hard! While being a “left brain” business owner has taken up a large piece of my identity, I also love to create and surround myself by art.

LPM: What is the backstory
and inspiration behind 522 Envy?
KP: 522 Envy started as a licensed boutique as part of a group
of stores called Envy that are located in several states across the Midwest. I
opened my own Envy store in 2013 after working for the company at 2 of their
Missouri locations. Then in 2014, I decided it was time to build my own brand
and be independent, so I parted with the licensing agreement and became 522
Envy. The addition of the “522” is a nod to our address at 522 Davis Street in
Downtown Evanston, Illinois!
LPM: Three favorite things in your closet?
KP: It’s gotta be the basics: my denim shirt, my solid black midi skirt, and my black ponte pants.
LPM: What was your biggest
challenge in building your own brand and running the store?
KP: I think I’ve taken all the online courses and read every
e-book on branding for business, though actually implementing those principles
in the real world is a whole different game. I’ve always been a person that
seeks out trends and loves trying out different styles. However, while branding my
business, it is important to stay consistent to one look and voice. To me, the
biggest challenge was thinking niche, rather than trying to combine all the
styles that appealed to me.

LPM: One thing you wish
you could’ve done differently?
KP: I wish I had relaunched 522 Envy sooner! I spent a whole
year building my business at Envy, and I realized I was speaking to only one
side of my customer.  My business was
very one-dimensional and I didn’t have a good vision for who my customer was as a person. Now, as 522 Envy, we are making up
for that and becoming much more in line with the lifestyle of our main girl!
LPM: What is a fashion
minded business to you and how would you suggest building one ground up?
KP: Since I am concerned about the retail part of the fashion
industry, I have to be actively aware of what will actually sell. I have to
anticipate what my customers will buy, not just what they will like or what
will appeal to them. Everything I bring into my store must eventually leave, so in that regard, I am more part of the business of fashion rather than
the creative side of fashion. However,
there is a lot of creativity that goes into building a brand that is centered
on fashion.
Building a fashion brand from the ground up is similar to
growing any brand, though fashion is much more centered on the feeling and
emotion of the customer, rather than something tangible. I start by asking myself, “Where does she
hang out? What does she wear to these occasions? How does she want to feel when
she is there?” Then, I have to figure out how to make my customer envision
herself at these places, but wearing clothes from my boutique.
LPM: What makes your store different?
KP: Customers love 522 Envy because we provide a really personal touch. I am in the store daily, and we keep a really small staff, so customers get to know us personally. In return, we have such a better understanding of our customers and we curate clothes exactly for their lifestyle. 
LPM: What other females
inspire you and why?
KP: Easy question! My mom owns her own business as well, and she
is a huge source of motivation for me. It is hard for many people my age to
relate to my lifestyle, so it is really important to have someone in my life
that “gets it.” She is extremely driven, organized, and is self-learning, and
I’m lucky to have someone to show me what real-life entrepreneurship is like,
including all the glamour AND all the challenges.
LPM: Your number one tip
in business overall?
KP: Get organized! Even just listing out all the things I do in
one workday will make my head spin. There are so many moving parts, and it
takes a certain dedication to organization to stay on top of everything. I
wouldn’t say I am an organized person by nature, but I work really hard at it
and have put some serious systems in place to keep accountable to all my
LPM: What’s your biggest
accomplishment? How’d you get there?
KP: To me, accomplishment seems like something is over. Sure,
I’ve accomplished starting a boutique, opening an online store, building
customer loyalty, etc. but I’m not ready to call those accomplishments yet. I
know that’s a rather micro view on life, but my business is still growing!
LPM: What do you have to
say to college students who want to work in fashion but don’t necessarily
KP: You definitely don’t need to study fashion, but you need to
be interested in it. There are a lot of different businesses that are fashion
minded, and having a degree is fashion wouldn’t necessarily be advantageous.
For instance, for me, fashion is a way I express my creativity and personality,
but my career is in business. When I am
hiring an intern, I always look for people who have shown an interest in
fashion in some way, but have taken courses or other internships in marketing,
PR, and business.

As I was reading through Kristi’s replies, I continually found myself agreeing with what she said! It’s so incredibly hard not to be inspired by such an amazing woman. Anyone even slighting interested in business and/or fashion can look up to her.

Be sure to shop online at 522 Envy and follow them on social media @522envy!

Filed In: Feature

3 thoughts on “Feature: Chicago #GirlBoss, Kristi Pawlowicz

  1. tvexe

    Such an inspirational article and woman, this should be the new standard for American entrepreneurship in those days. Good luck to Kristi and her store.


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