This week I had the opportunity to speak with Erica Jarman, the owner of a radical vintage boutique called House of Strut. Originally from Marietta, Georgia, Erica moved to Savannah in order to start her life. Her personality is as vivid and psychedelic as the clothing she collects.
Mary Tres: What inspired you to open House of Strut?
Erica Jarman: I collect vintage clothing and fashion. I have for about 14 years, so it was a long time coming.
MT: How did you go about choosing the Starland District for the store?
EJ: Ben Carter was buying property and leasing it on Broughton Street; right at the exact same time I was looking for commercial real estate. So I had a decision to make: do I want to be on Broughton Street and carry on the type of lease that was available at that time, at that particular price range, or did I want to invest in more of a community centric atmosphere where the locals hang? Did I want a majority of my clientele tourists on Broughton Street? Or did I want to build a local relationship/clientele base?
MT: How has business been thus far?
EJ: So far, so good. I've paid rent and paid my employees and all my bills, so thats a good thing. Right now I’m just trying to build a brand and spend time doing things that are going to be beneficial to my community. It’s more than just selling fashion, it’s bringing people together, supporting the arts and supporting the performing arts, so I’m investing in a community really.
MT: You recently attended the Wanee Festival. How was that experience?
EJ: It was interesting because this is the first time I’ve ever been a vendor. I actually went to the first Bonnaroo, if that shows you my age. I’ve always attended festivals. This time around I’m not at the shows, but I can hear the music and trance myself into the culture and really meet a lot of great people and have experiences that you can tell stories about. So it was great.
MT: That's really awesome. Do you plan on selling merchandise at any upcoming festivals at all?
EJ: Yes we're looking at a couple of other options. We’re looking about going back to Suwannee for Hulaween in the fall and we’re looking for a local one maybe in July or August. We haven't locked anything done yet, but it's definitely on our radar.
MT: Sweet. You were kind of talking about this before, but House of Strut is heavily involved in the art scene whether it's through showcasing the paintings in your store or having live music in the shop. What attracted you to being a heavily collaborative business?
EJ: I guess that's just the way I want to live my life so that's the way I’m going to run my business, you know?
MT: Moreso on a fashion note, what do you predict as being the top trends for spring into summer?
EJ: I don’t know any of the trends. But Samantha, my assistant, she knows all the trends. I'm really enjoying this kind of play on ‘southern sassy sportswear?’ I have that [points to merchandise] that’s going to be shown at the Savannah Bazaar this Saturday. We’re also combining that with upcycled looks from thrift stores or recycled shirts. So we're taking vintage recycled shirts and we’re turning them into kind of like fancier southern sportswear versus kind of redneck sportswear. It’s going to be a clash of the two, it's going to be great [laughs].
MT: Are there any more events that you have coming up?
EJ: Yea this Thursday we're doing the Evening of Honey Bee Awareness. We’re supporting Melissa Hagerty on her venture into Lacoste for the artist in residence SCAD alum program. So were raising awareness for the honey bee and the destruction that it's under. We’re also collecting recycled tee shirts that she can turn into yarn to create the exhibition in Lacoste, so this is to fuel her artist efforts. Of course, we're going to layer in some garment worker parallelisms between the two. But it'll be a cool event it's going to be an art exhibit, a live art exhibit. There’s also an installation by the artist Melissa. Also, a female power muscian line up so we're excited about that and then we have Elaina Valore MCing so it should be a fun event.
MT: Yea it sounds cool! What's the best way for people to know about your events? Is it through instagram?
EJ: I guess follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. I'm on all three handles. This event is open to all and we look forward to those that come out!
House of Strut is located at 17 W 41st St, Savannah, GA.
Check them out on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/houseofstrut/
Photography by Erin Wyrosdick