Shop Talk at Emperor's Newest Clothes

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly

Michelle T. Woljevach, 35

Owner, Emperor's Newest Clothes

1453 B Grandview Ave., Columbus


What does your store offer?

Boutique labels. Really fun, trendy, feminine items. Just an eclectic mix at really affordable prices. You can come in here and get everything -- from accessories to clothes to leggings. It really can be a one-stop destination.

What's your store's style, your look?

Cute, cute, cute! I hear that word everyday. It's very soft, very feminine, very fun. I like to carry some edgy and fashion-forward items. I'm really into how things feel, so soft fabrics.

And your strategy is simple -- you buy what you would wear, right?

When I go out and shop, I buy things I really want to wear. When I sell something, it's an honest sale. I feel like it's a really honest way of doing business.

You opened this shop seven years ago and opened a second one by the same name in the Short North about a year ago. How are they different?

I feel like the shopping experience in Grandview is a little more intimate. It's a smaller store. The Short North store is a little bigger, maybe a little more urban.

Your degree is in chemistry and diatetics. What pushed you in this direction?

I was going to be a chiropractor. I had two months before school started, and I started having second thoughts. So I went to a headhunter and they did tests on me, and I fit into fashion.

After working in the fashion industry, then, you decided to open this. But it was shortly after 9/11, and you couldn't even get a loan. So you put everything on credit cards. How did you do it?

Everybody thought I was crazy. But I was so sure of what I was doing... I was serving during the night at Easy Street, then working in my store all day (preparing to open). I have never worked so hard in my life.

Well, you must be doing OK, because you're not serving anymore, right?

Yeah... It's like, I can't believe this is how I make a living. I'll never get rich running this kind of boutique (But) I wanted anybody to be able to shop in my stores. I keep my price point as low as I can.

What are your prices, generally?

Dresses in here are anywhere from $35 to $45. Tops are $23 to $35. My jeans are $45 to $49. You can get a dressy dress -- you know, like a party dress -- from anywhere between $49 and $69. Purses are $27 to $51. Acccessories, $7 to $21. And my sunglasses are $13 every single day