UPDATE: Need some outfit inspiration to counteract this heat wave? Us, too — so we're taking notes from this chic shop owner. This story was originally published on May 30, 2013.
To say we're inspired by boutique-owner Paige Speyer would be an understatement. The impossibly chic proprietor of Wink, Georgetown's haven for of-the-moment brands, embodies an enviable mix of all-American beauty and effortless, model-off-duty cool. When she's not manning the store, the leggy blonde stunner is overhauling closets and helping others hone their own unique style. We sat down with Speyer to talk fashion, life in D.C., and the ins and outs of small business. Trust — you'll want to bookmark this! Want even more R29? Get the latest news, tips, and can't-resist stories delivered straight to your newsfeed, in real time. Like us on Facebook — we'll see you there!
Photographed by Kate Warren
First, give us the rundown on your life so far!
"I was born and raised in Washington, D.C. I went to high school in Bethesda, and then went to Boston University to study psychology. After an internship at Hermès in the wholesale department the summer of my sophomore year, I was convinced I wanted to work in fashion. I continued with psychology, but knew I wanted to pursue something fashion-related — at that point I thought it was fashion PR."
Joie sweater, Alice and Olivia skirt, Kayu clutch, J.Crew flats.
When did you decide to open Wink? What was it like to launch a store?
"After college, I moved to London and worked briefly for Matthew Williamson, and then transferred to the PR offices of Giorgio Armani. It was awesome — such a wonderful experience. While I was there, I learned I wanted to be in the buying world. When I eventually moved back to D.C. after a year in Brazil and two years in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, (where I ran a store that my mom owned), I knew I wanted to open a store in Georgetown. I interviewed at Neiman Marcus and Saks and a few boutiques in New York for buying positions, but figured I would get the best of both worlds in D.C. — not having to sit behind a desk and not have to live in New York. I always knew I wanted to come back here."
Elizabeth Cole earrings.
How did you choose the name for the boutique?
is the name of an old pinup magazine, and at the time, I loved the style of pinup girls. And I thought Wink had a nice ring to it."
Bracelets from Giles & Brother and Iwona Ludyga.
What have been some of the challenges you've encountered along the way?
"I have truly loved every minute of it — I have learned a lot over the years, but it has only helped me to grow Wink to where it is today. The most difficult part of owning a boutique is finding great employees and up to this point, I have been extremely lucky. I have a great team; many of them have been with me for two or three-plus years."
If you could go back and do it over, what lesson or piece of advice would you give yourself?
"I think it is important for the customer to have consistency when they come in. I like when a customer comes in and feels comfortable and recognizes the girls working — and in turn, we know them. It creates a bond and a nice shopping environment."
Clover Canyon dress, vintage cuffs, Chie Mihara sandals.
What is your favorite part about owning a boutique?
"I love that every day is different. I don’t sit behind a desk all day — I'm able to interact with new people and have new experiences every day. I never get bored."
Walk us through a day in the life: What's your schedule like on a typical workday?
"Typically I wake up, walk to a yoga class in Georgetown, come home, make a smoothie, and head into the store. I spend the days here and then at night, I meet up with friends or family for dinner — I love exploring new areas and new restaurants. This past weekend, I went to Etto on 14th Street and loved it. It will definitely be added to the rotation."
Would you say that your style reflects what you carry in the store, or are the two different?
"Most of my wardrobe is from Wink, but having said that, I do mainly buy for the Wink customer. Each season, I throw in a few items that I can’t live without for myself and whoever else wants it…"
How do you describe your personal style?
"My personal style…this is such a hard question, because I don’t think I fit into one, per se. I think inside and out, I have a lot of bohemian in me — I love anything with fringe, fur, leather, and turquoise, but I don’t always dress accordingly…"
Isabel Marant sweater, A.L.C. skirt.
Who is your ultimate style icon?
"Well, it’s hard to choose one, but I will say I have never seen Poppy Delevingne in something I didn’t love. She always seems to be well put-together, but doesn’t look like she is trying too hard."
Isabel Marant boots.
What's your favorite thing to wear for a weekend in D.C.? What does every D.C. gal need in their wardrobe?
"I am pretty casual at heart, so I love high-rise bell-bottoms on the weekend, Converse sneakers, and a T-shirt…but I don’t think everyone should own these. Every D.C. girl should have something in their wardrobe that makes them feel like a million bucks — whether that is a sparkly dress or an old concert tee. I am big into people honing into their own individual style, not what’s trendy!"
Speyer scored this insane turquoise bracelet at the Georgetown flea market.
Any trends or up-and-coming local designers you're excited about?
"My favorite brand in the store right now is Clover Canyon. I love the colors and prints — they come up with new and inventive patterns each season. I want all of them!"
Biggest wardrobe splurge?
"Ugh – I just bought a pair of suede white fringe boots from Christian Louboutin. Such a silly purchase, but I am obsessed!"
A feather earring from Panama adds the perfect boho-chic flourish to Speyer's look.
How do you unwind when you're not working?
"I love to cruise around the city on my bike, go to the Dupont farmers' market, and drink wine with friends."
What are your favorite things to do in D.C.?
"I think D.C. is a really pretty, clean, and manageable city. There is always something going on — lectures, museums, events. It has grown and developed so much over the years. Some of my favorite restaurants are Et Voila, Room 11, Cork. One of my most favorite places in the city is the East Wing of the National Gallery of Art."
J.Crew shirt, Nieves Lavi skirt, Jimmy Choo sandals she scored at a Palm Beach thrift store.
Fill in the blank: "If I weren't a boutique owner, I'd be ____________."
"No idea — I always say I am so lucky to do what I do, but if I had to say something I would say….yoga instructor."
Vintage turquoise necklace from her grandmother's collection.
And one more time: "In five years, I hope to be ___________."
"Doing exactly what I’m doing, but have a farm in the country where I can escape."