AFTER SPENDING YEARS WORKING IN THE RETAIL BUSINESS, GINGER HOWARD FINALLY TOOK THE BIG PLUNGE EARLIER THIS YEAR AND OPENED HER OWN BOUTIQUE.
Byline: Danielle Cohen
While helping out at her boyfriend’s family’s department store in Waycross, Ga., 14-year-old Ginger Howard fell in love. Unfortunately for her beau, it was with the retail life.
While the two childhood sweethearts split amicably and remain friends to date, Howard’s passion for retail sizzled. She focused her education and her real-world experience in the fashion industry, earning a fashion merchandising degree from the University of Georgia, interning at and eventually managing J.J.’s, a clothing store in Athens, Ga., and then managing Frankie Welch, an apparel shop in Alexandria City, Va.
Howard went on to start her own women’s clothing buying office, Athens, Ga.-based Ginger Howard Co. For the past eight years, she has shopped New York once a month, handling 20 to 25 accounts at any given time. From that business, she began hosting trunk shows as part of her second company, GHS Ltd., for Ben & Elle, Ballinger Gold and other women’s apparel manufacturers. Each year for the last five years, Howard presented approximately 40 Southeastern shows in mostly friends’ homes — all while doing double duty with the buying office.
Last March, the thirty-something Howard opened her own women’s clothing boutique, Ginger Howard Selections, Fine Apparel & Gifts, in the heart of Atlanta’s upscale neighborhood of Buckhead.
While she no longer has the buying office, Howard continues to host trunk shows.
Her shop’s merchandise runs the gamut of $24 T-shirts to $600 cocktail dresses, with an extensive assortment of accessories and gift items. Her current selection of high-end sportswear includes Fabrizio Gianni, Red Engine, New Frontier, Equestrian, Iris Singer Collection and Ballinger Gold. Specialty lines including Bigio and Teri Jon round out special-occasion dressing. Accessories, including Yvone Christa jewelry, Lanzetti leather handbags, Elaine Coyne engraved belts, Asiaphile tortoise-shell handled straw totes and Forest of the World straw hats, create a head-to-toe ensemble.
Unique pieces, including Rance hand soaps from France, “Purse With a Verse” vintage-fabric bags handmade by a South African artist, Aimee’s Linens cocktail napkins, jumpers for infants, candles and others small ticket items dot the French-and Far Eastern-inspired retail showroom.
Howard is now in the planning stages of launching her own line of ladies’ apparel. Anticipating its debut this winter, she will feature the clothing in her store and possibly as part of her trunk shows. “I see voids in the market. Being in it so long, I want to fill these niches,” Howard said.