Stephanie Ormsby goes where the big-box clothing stores don’t, as she outfits women of all ages for all occasions. Discover how customer service and the fulfillment of a local niche equal success.
Stephanie Ormsby has a passion for clothing.
“I love what I do,” says the owner of the women’s boutique Wear Did U Get That, 66 N. Williams St., in Crystal Lake. “I love outfitting women to help make them feel good about what they’re wearing, and the way they look. I’ve had women cry and hug me because they’ve never before been able to put together outfits for their body type. I try to make it simple for them. That’s my biggest reward.”
Ormsby started her career in retail, but left after she married to become a stay-at-home mom raising her three children. After nearly 17 years away, she returned to retail, then realized she could open her own store and fulfill a need in the community.
The Crystal Lake resident opened Wear Did U Get That in November 2012, thanks to the urging of husband Tom, who owns an auto dealership. Creative marketing help came from son Grant, 14, who came up with the tagline “Fashion For Every Day.”
“People ask me if I always dreamed of owning my own place,” she says. “The answer is, not really. I just realized there’s a need for this type of store in the area. So far, it’s exceeded my expectations. I’m flabbergasted that people come in and love it. The best part is that I’ve become good friends with so many of my customers and my employees. My store is all about making people feel good.”
Once they had secured a location in the downtown business district, the Ormsbys gutted the entire store and added two spacious fitting stations. The 800 square-foot store is located next to other specialty shops, such as a gourmet kitchen store, a toy store and an olive oil shop. “It’s a very relaxed, comfortable location,” says Ormsby. “I can’t believe how much inventory we’re able to pack in a small location.”
As a first-time business owner, Ormsby and her part-time staff of five have had to learn on the fly, including the moment, early on, when they had to learn to print gift receipts for Christmas shoppers. “Every day we learn something new,” Ormsby says. “The key is we don’t stress. We laugh a lot. We try to make what we do lighthearted.”
Wear Did U Get That seeks to outfit women with everyday clothing, from a day at the office to a night on the town. “I do complete outfits,” Ormsby says. “I tell customers that my clothes are what you would wear to go to the grocery store or have lunch with a friend. They’re for all occasions. You won’t find expensive dresses that are going to sit in the back of your closet.”
Michele Heyen, a teacher from Crystal Lake, has been shopping at Wear Did U Get That since it opened. She’s an ardent supporter of downtown businesses, and regularly stops at Starbucks and a pilates studio. Heyen shops at Ormsby’s store mainly for tops and accessories that she can wear to work, but also appreciates the owner’s candid opinions. “Stephanie’s really honest,” says Heyen. “When you try something on, and she doesn’t like it, she’ll tell you. She’s got a good eye. Some places will always tell you that you look good. I appreciate the truth.”
Ormsby says that’s the only way she knows how to do business. “People love my honesty, and that’s the reason they come back,” she says. “My philosophy is: if you don’t love it, don’t buy it. That’s refreshing to people. I’m here to make you look good. If you can’t find something you like, that’s OK.”
Wear Did U Get That carries a large variety of clothing, from nine lines of denim to an assortment of jewelry. “We have everything – layering pieces, tops, bottoms – and we always carry at least one brand of tall boots in the winter and cute flip-flops in the summer,” she says. Some of the store’s popular brand names include KUT from the Kloth, BB Dakota, Prairie Underground, Sanctuary and Not Your Daughter’s Jeans. Trends, she says, change with the season. Expect plenty of plaids, zippers and lace this fall.
“We try not to be super trendy,” she says. “We tend to be more unique.”
Customers range in age from 18 to 80 and visit the store from all over the suburbs. Many customers bring relatives who come from out of state. Recently, Ormsby had a grandmother, daughter and granddaughter shop at her store and all make purchases, a rarity when it comes to shopping.
“When I do my buying, I think about lifestyles and body type,” she says. “I think about what my grandmother, mother-in-law, 19-year-old daughter Molly, who helps do the buying, and I would like. I start by asking customers questions like, ‘Do you work or do you stay at home?’ That makes a big difference in taste.”
Ormsby knows how to create demand for her merchandise. For starters, she never reorders anything.
“I typically order eight pieces of one item,” she says. “Customers don’t want to run into a million people all wearing the same thing. It might be a different color, but each piece has to be unique. I have people come in and say, ‘I’m looking for something I saw in here a few weeks ago.’ Chances are it won’t be here.”
Ormsby also believes in giving back to the community. She often donates a percentage of sales to local organizations, and she participates in fashion shows that benefit nonprofit organizations.
“It’s important to give back to the community that supports my business,” she says.
Social media has been a good tool for creating a buzz around the business, says Ormsby.
When Sharon Dieball first walked into Wear Did U Get That, the Crystal Lake resident firmly believed she didn’t belong. “I thought it was too nice for me,” she says. “I thought I was a frumpy grandma.”
Since then, Dieball has discovered what an impact the store could make on her appearance and self-esteem.
“Stephanie has helped me choose my clothes – whether new or old clothes – with more confidence,” she says. “If I go shopping or to a movie, I feel good about what I’m wearing. I know that not everything is going to fit quite right or be my style. Stephanie and her staff don’t mind how much time you spend in the store. I even bring in my old clothes, and they’re willing to help me accessorize them. I feel like the store is my own personalized dressing service. It’s a happy place.”
As for the future, Ormsby plans to continue providing the same quality service that customers have come to expect.
“Feedback from the customers is always important to me,” she says. “We’re going to continue trying to reach people who don’t know I’m here to help them. I want to be able to show people how to wear clothes and feel good about themselves.”