July 1, 2003
Berne Anderson wants to start a fashion revolution, bagging the trends and getting men and women to think seriously about dressing — the way they used to during Hollywood’s glamour years and the way they still do in Europe. “The key is quality and style,” says the 48-year-old chemical hazardous waste coordinator. “In Europe, most [people] have tiny closets, [but] they always look good. We have full closets, and what’s our favorite complaint? ‘I have nothing to wear.’ I don’t think we quite get it, but I can dream, can’t I?” sighs Anderson, who has had a lifelong love affair with clothes.
But Anderson, who once hoped to attend the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York City, is doing more than dreaming. In 1999, with an initial investment of $30,000, he opened a European-inspired boutique in Easton, Pennsylvania, called Essentially British.
That same year, clients of his wife, Meg, a realtor, said the house they were considering buying would be the ideal location for Anderson’s fledgling business. They bought the house and, in true British fashion, Anderson opened the boutique on the ground floor in 2000. He currently sells British and American goods including shirts, ties, dresses, and English shoes. “It’s small, so I try not to keep it cluttered,” he says. “Because it’s my home, patrons feel like they’re among friends. We sit and talk about fashion. We even drink wine on Fridays.” You can visit his boutique online at www.essentially-british.com or call 610-252-0347. — Sonia Alleyne
DON’T QUIT YOUR DAY JOB: Retail revenue can be inconsistent. Having a day job, says Anderson, allows him to enjoy his passion and alleviates the pressure of sustaining his business.
DON’T OVEREXTEND YOURSELF: Don’t try to please everyone. Find a product and commit to it, suggests Anderson. “I could easily sell trendy clothes, but I’m too committed to selling a particular style of clothing. It may not be as popular, but it’s what I believe in.”
KNOW YOUR MARKET: “When you’re green, it’s easy to buy wrong instead of smart,” Anderson says. “The color pink is a tough sell for black men in the U.S. In Spain, it’s considered masculine. Those differences should determine what you buy, not what a merchant is pushing.”