Position with THE NINES: Owner
What are your 3 biggest accomplishments in life?:
2. Receiving a patent for a product I invented for women. &
3. Serving in the Army”
“I am a ping pong and Scrabble junkie!’
We’ve all had those thoughts when looking in the mirror: “I wish my arms were more toned. Why does my hair look like this? Are those crow’s feet?!”
Things that are part of our body and history have left us feeling inadequate, unloved, and not our best when they should leave us feeling proud, beautiful, and strong.
Stretch marks are the sign of growth or motherhood, lines and wrinkles are signs of wisdom and laughs from over the years, and scars show that we have survived what we thought at that time was unsurvivable.
While we are only human and see flaws in ourselves, here at THE NINES, we see each and every one of you ladies for who you are: strong, fabulous, and beautiful, inside and out.
Although we are taking this stance from a boutique’s viewpoint, we are still real women that struggle with the same self love and body image issues every other woman deals with. But what makes our job so special is that we meet new women every day that take our breath away on what real beauty is and how we perceive it.
Our passion for fashion goes beyond a materialist craving. Read below to hear the story of Lauren and what inspired her to create THE NINES.
“We are so hard on ourselves when we look in the mirror.
I remember after having my youngest son, I struggled to get my baby weight off. I almost couldn’t look in the mirror and not just because I was at my highest weight. But I felt inadequate for many other reasons and I remember thinking someday I will be thinner, I will have a better job and I will be able to look in the mirror again and see someone I was proud of. But for now I’m not happy with what I see in the mirror.
I was really down and my husband told me I should go shopping to lift my spirits. Doing what all Moms do, I tried to put my kids and family first and I told my husband that we couldn’t afford to be buying me clothes I will have to give away in 6 months when I hopefully take the weight off. He told me he wasn’t taking no for an answer so off I went to shop. At first I was a little depressed while thumbing through the racks since I was looking at much larger sizes than what I normally wear but I tried on clothes anyway. I ended up putting together 3 outfits and I treated myself to a really awesome pair of shoes.
The next morning when I was getting ready for work I put on my new outfit, new shoes and I curled my hair. I looked in the mirror and I broke down and cried. Tears of joy were streaming down my face because it was the first time I felt beautiful in years. I felt important and confident again. I wasn’t at my goal weight, I wasn’t doing well financially, many things in life could have been better at the time but I felt like I was back! The fun loving spunky go getter of a woman was back!
My life drastically changed after that day. The day I treated myself to the outfits and started loving myself again everything in my life changed for the better. I think I just needed to be reminded that I matter and I’m worth it. I was promoted at work, my relationship with my husband was stronger than ever, I was offered a new job and only a year and a half after that day I opened THE NINES.
So you can say I’m pretty passionate about fashion. It’s what’s on the inside that counts but it’s kind of amazing what you attract into your life when you start dressing like the rockstar you were created to be and when you remind yourself how truly important you are. My hope is that if you’re not already taking great care of yourself and loving yourself that you start.
It’s time to fall in love with you all over again today, not in a few months when you’re at your goal weight, when you graduate college, when you have the right job, or when you meet the right person. No excuses, you are a masterpiece and deserve to be celebrated. Love that person you see in the mirror and start reminding yourself daily of all the great things you add to this world. Don’t forget to treat yourself and remind yourself of how important you truly are.
Remember, if you need help finding that outfit or just need some words of encouragement my staff and I are here to help you six days a week!”
When you look good, you feel good, you do good. It’s beyond the designer labels, trends, and prices tags, but more about the outcome and overall feeling of self worth.
You’ve heard it in malls, boutiques, and department stores before. “You need this.” as a sales associate is forcing a heinous sweater in your dressing room that you would never pick out in a million years. You think to yourself, “Why is the person so pushy?”
Or, you’re faced with the sad racks of clothes that were created for paper dolls or body types that just don’t match yours. The dimensions are all wrong or your size is tucked away in a little corner like the store is ashamed to carry it.
The worst is when the sales associate’s help and feedback is nowhere to be found or helpful when really needed. They are rude and short with you when finally located and of no assistance to you.
So, you climb back into your car, defeated from the day’s fruitless gathering. Quite frankly, you’re feeling a little self-conscious and down.
Here at THE NINES, we pride ourselves on the fact that we carry sizes for all body types, we are not a sales-driven team, so our opinion is honest and genuine, and the team we have is strengthened from its diverse members.
We figured it’s great to show how we are set apart from other stores, but why not hear it from Lauren herself?
1.) We celebrate every woman’s sense of style: “Many stores are geared for a specific woman. At THE NINES, I created this store to be able to help and style every woman who walks through the door. If a business woman walks in, I want to help her find outfits for work. If a college student needs casual outfits, I’ve got her covered. If a curvy woman is looking for trending clothes that flatter her, we can help. Whether you have a very simple style or you love cutting edge fashion, you can find it here. No matter your budget or craving for big name designer brands, we have Hudson Jeans or Steve Madden Shoes just to name a few!”
2.) Our goal is to help you make great outfits, not to make a sale: “Making someone feel great is better than any amount of money in my book. That’s why we tell our customers if they have a great pair of shoes at home and need the perfect dress to bring your shoes into our store so we can help them make the perfect outfit. Or, vice versa. If you find yourself with the perfect dress and you just need to accessorize, bring your dress into the store so we can help you put the icing on your outfit.”
3.) “Knowing how hard it can be to shop when I’m pressed for time, I hired some of the friendliest and most helpful personal shoppers to help not only give my customers honest feedback in the dressing room but help you put together outfits that you may not have put together yourself. My staff and I are truly here to serve you and help you have a great time while you shop! A diverse, down-to-earth group of women of all ages whose goal is to get you looking and feeling your best.”
THE NINES is an experience and we want to be sure that every woman is celebrated by making her feel her absolute best.
Many times in life we are told to do this, don’t do that, listen to the rules, and don’t even think about stepping out of boundaries. But, where is the fun in that?
Fashion was conceived on the idea of expression and creativity and holding that back should not only be considered a crime, but a travesty. It has been said before that it’s okay to bend the rules, but here at The NINES, we want to encourage you to straight up break them. Wearing stripes with spots? Thumbs up from us. Floral and checkered prints? We’ll vouch for you 100%.
The other thing about fashion is people know but don’t like to repeat this too often: it’s okay to have a bad outfit. Because the thing is, you’re still trying. You’re trying trends, silhouettes, textures, experimenting with something that is going to come off at the end of the day. That’s what sets fashion apart from so many other vices.
Coloring your hair may result in a “bad hair day” for weeks and a tattoo may not turn out how it looked in your mind before committing. Pulling a fashion faux-pas will and never has hurt anyone. (Despite what some tabloids have to say.)
We often see women come into the store that may be hesitant or nervous to try new styles, and that’s okay. But what we love so much about our job is that we have the resources and ways to help women try something new, no matter how unsure they are about it.
Fashion, getting dressed, and making new outfit creations is such a fun way to experiment with your personal taste and style that once you start, it becomes a fun challenge.
At The NINES, it’s pretty clear we adore fashion. Most of us even started loving it before we knew we loved it and will continue to do so until we no longer can.
A frequent thing we hear in our “fitting room confessions” as we call them, is “I’m too old to wear something like that”. We hear some funny stuff at the store, but this line always is perhaps one of the ones that we hear the most.
What does that mean? To be too old to wear something? Wear it and forget your age! Coco Chanel was preparing her fashion line-ups until she was 87 years old. Betsey Johnson rocks the hell out of some kooky designs and she is 73. Iris Apfel, God bless her and her fabulous glasses, is 93 years young and one of her many titles is fashion icon.
While yes, these women may be “fashion icons”, they’re still strong, powerful, and stylish women. At market, we see women of all ages wearing the trends that are being talked about. At the end of the day, what you should be wearing is what makes you feel fabulous.
Sure, there is a thing we call “dressing our age”. But we’re not requesting that you run out in high-waisted, hot pink pleather shorts. If that’s your style, go for it! We are merely suggesting that trying an asymmetrical dress and floppy hat may turn some heads, especially if you’re rocking it with confidence.
It’s often said that things get better with age. So, prove the non-believers wrong and wear that bold printed kimono with rings on every finger. Or, you know, whatever you want.
You are (legally) required to wear clothes your entire life, you might as well make them fun and interesting, right?
Oh the places you’ll go! But in reality, they should really tell you about the people you meet.
This past week while we were at market, not only did we find and buy the latest in trends, but, we met some incredible people that wowed us with their words, style, and personalities.
According to WWD Magic, an average of about 80,000 people attend seminars, shows, and exhibits from Sunday to Thursday of the market week scheduled. So it’s no wonder there’s a surplus of fascinating people to become acquainted with and meet.
Being a super-fan of Project Runway (obvi), we were ecstatic to find out that Sandhya Garg, a designer from Season 13, was present and selling her line. Very gracious but professional, Garg paged through her new line complete with unique personal prints and colors. She also showed a few best sellers and offered us a line-up sheet to take and study.
Overall a treat to meet, Garg posed as a great role model and an aspiration for any entrepreneur, inventor, or designer aspiring to make it big.
Each store carried their brand with pride and with over 900 brands represented at WWD’s MAGIC, there was plenty of fashion and style to go around for everyone. Each vendor and buyer seemed to be branded with their unique take on fashion, trends, and style.
While this is just a small peek into the world of WWD Magic Trade Show, we wanted to bring you a taste of it through our experiences! You can check out more behind-the-scenes pictures, stories, and links at our Pinterest page: bit.ly/1Jvorgy
Here’s another member of our staff we would love for you to meet!
• Sheila Aho •
Hometown: Detroit Lakes, MN
Position: Personal Shopper
What’s your favorite thing about working at The NINES?: “Opening the boxes! But I think the best part is helping someone that doesn’t think you can help them. Being a part of that is fun.”
How would you describe your style?: “I would say I probably tend to like things that have a good vibe to them.”
What’s a fun fact about you?: “I shoot competitive archery. People would never guess that by looking at me. I’m also a dog-person, not a cat-person.”
Favorite thing to do in Detroit Lakes?: “Sit on the dock. We have such a great place to live. You’ve got to take advantage of the seasons here.”
Keep checking back every Friday for a new feature on a staff member!
Las Vegas, Dallas, Chicago, Minneapolis, Los Angeles, we visit markets all over the country to personally shop for all of you that visit our store. However, it wasn’t until a few seasons ago that we had a great idea on how to put the totes and other handouts from vendors to good use.
“Last February at Market in Las Vegas, I had piles of nice tote bags given to me by all of the vendors I buy from at Market. I told my co-workers Uni and Madi, I wish there was something good we could do with these bags since we had no room in our suitcases to take them home with us.
I suddenly remembered the last market trip when I had brought Sheila and Uni and we walked the Las Vegas strip the night before the show. There was a pregnant homeless woman asking for money and I bent down to give her a few bucks and smiled at her. That’s it, we are going to fill these bags with things for the homeless people in Las Vegas!
I know these bags will probably not get them off the streets, but I do remember how nice a granola bar tasted after being hungry during Army Basic Training. When you haven’t showered in days, you’ve been walking for miles in the heat, and you don’t have much to eat, little things like a granola bar or a card from a loved one that says “I love you” are the things that help keep you going.
That’s what these bags were for. We filled over 30 totes with granola bars and other nonperishable snacks from Central Market, shirts from Detroit Lakes T-shirt Company, wet wipes, hand-written inspirational quotes, and other little items to help them on their journey.”
-Lauren Zima, Owner
Another unfortunate truth we happened to notice at the same time was the overwhelming amount of homeless people out on the streets, Las Vegas particularly. After brainstorming with Uni, Madi, and myself, we thought it would be cool to take these “freebies” we were receiving and push them forward to someone who may be more in need of them.
So, our plan of action was to fill these bags with general necessities; toothpaste, toothbrushes, baby wipes, and granola bars. We also thought it may be appropriate to throw some more personal items in the mix such as a notebook, pen, t-shirt, and our favorite inspirational quotes. Central Market in Detroit Lakes donated a gift card for us to purchase granola bars and Detroit Lakes T-Shirt Company donated 2-shirts for every bag we made.
We loaded up The NINES tour bus with 34 bags full of goodies from us to hand out. Our first stop was to find people to hand these out to, so we moseyed over to Fremont Street. On the way there we found a few individuals on the street we pulled over for as well.
The people we met were so grateful, even commenting on the weight of the bags, “It’s so heavy, thank you,” one woman had said. We also met an inventor, telling us his crazy stories of adventures and inventions. A couple of gentlemen were sitting together as Lauren approached them with a bag with two of her boys as one asked “Minnesota?” as she surprisedly answered, “Yes, how did you know?” “Go Packers, Vikings stink,” he said as we all got a good laugh.
As we realized toward the end of the night, we would have a few bags left over and wanted to make sure they went to someone who needed them. We did some research and found a shelter in our area called Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth, a shelter that specializes in providing a safe place for adolescents and teens in the Las Vegas area.
We are always so thankful that we get to personally shop for all of you back home and feel that it is also our job to give back as much as we possibly can, whenever we can. As we filled bags and prepared to do this, Lauren found a quote that particularly struck a cord with her.
Every year comes and goes and each round of markets gets crazier and it’s…well, magic. This time around, we’re tearin’ up Vegas one exhibitor at a time looking for only the best to bring back to you in good ol’ Minnesota.
Kicking off the week, we attended a seminar to educate ourselves on some of the upcoming and expected trends for Fall 2015 and Spring 2016. Panelists included Carl Scibetta, EVP and GM from Shoe Carnival to give us some insight on what footwear was going to look like. George McCracken, a stylist and designer for M-82, also made an appearance giving us some perspective on overall trends and how they were even affecting men’s fashion.
A few things the panelists were expecting to be popular were 70’s trends, Western-wear (moderately, of course), and rich textures or materials such as velvet. As we progressed into market later on into the day, we only saw about 15 fold of the progressive trends that made us excited for Fall all over again.
Some of the first stops we made were chock full of surprises we were not anticipating but may or may not have given them a shot; mock turtlenecks, an overwhelming amount of prints, not to mention we were in flared sleeves up to our eyeballs. But, we prevailed and made a robust selection that we are so excited for you all to see back home.
Check out some of the finds we picked today!:
In the upcoming days we are so excited to bring you updates and posts as to what we are finding and picking for you. We’ll keep you informed and you could be helping us pick some new finds too! Check out Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, Vine, and Facebook feed too!
What do you think is the best thing about the NINES?: “Meeting new people. When they come in and have no idea, but they walk out with a fun, crazy outfit; there’s nothing like it.”
Top trend that you’re wearing?: “I’m a melting pot, really. I go from soccer mom all the way to Hollywood Glam if I can.I only give myself one rule to break at a time, whatever it may be.”