The Thursday work dress. Every woman has at least one: The dress you wear to the office when you have a social event to go to afterwards, but don’t want to look too, well, office-y.
But why shouldn’t all women’s work clothes inspire the same level of comfort and desk-to-dinner confidence as the Thursday work dress? That’s the question Dorie Golkin and Emelyn Northway asked themselves when they met at a Wharton business school welcome event. The pair co-founded Of Mercer two years ago with the goal of creating a line of “desk-to-anything” clothing that was both conservative enough for corporate settings, but fashionable enough to wear to dinner or drinks with friends—all while being high-quality and affordable.
The garments, which are all priced at $250 or less, have been sold online—until now. The company is opening its first brick-and-mortar location in Manhattan’s Flatiron district on October 26.
The new store showcases the clothing, of course, yet the most interesting section is in the rear, in what Golkin calls the “shared workspace.” Customers will be encouraged to use the space for everything from socializing, to drinks with clients, and even as just a place to sit down and get stuff done in the middle of the day. Already, the space boasts a small bar, and there will be a coffee machine available for use, Golkin says.
The store will also host networking and industry events: The company already has plans to co-host an event with women’s career network Levo League.
“We really wanted to create a space for professional women to be able to meet each other,” Golkin explains. “Such a big part of our success was support from other female entrepreneurs.” The duo has been (unofficially) advised by female entrepreneurial powerhouses like Hayley Barna, co-founder of beauty subscription service Birchbox, and Alexa von Tobel, founder and CEO of personal finance company LearnVest. “We wanted to pay it forward.”
The pair will also showcase complementary brands “that better the lives of professional women” within the store, says Northway. Of Mercer will feature the products of female-founded startups that don’t have stores of their own, and will allow the companies to use the retailer’s conference space.
The duo would like Of Mercer to be a connector between professional women as well as a clothing brand. Given the lack of in-person interaction today, Northway says there is a need to “find ways to reconnect as humans.”
Of Mercer declined to share financial information. Northway says the company is “very bootstrapped” and may consider raising outside funding in 2016.
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