There once were two young girls that loved pretty things. Glitter and tulle made their little hearts soar, and when they finally met—magic happened.
Abby Kessler and Katie Loftus have been BFFs since they met in high school where they immediately bonded over their love for fashion and fabulousness. Abby started learning to sew at the age of 8, while Katie kept a daily journal of each of her outfits and accessories—needless to say, they had a lot in common from the start.
After attending Drexel for Design and Merchandising followed by a stint in NYC, the girls returned to their beloved Philadelphia and Smak Parlour was born.
The Old City boutique is like if Barbie’s Dream House had a walk-in closet with a bit of a punk-rock edge. From the bubblegum pink walls to the ornate mirrors and dazzling decor, the shop just screams glam. Smak Parlour is filled to the brim with candy-colored dresses, funky accessories, and kitschy home decor all at super reasonable prices. Want to try out the colorblocking trend? Need a new statement necklace or arm candy? Smak Parlour has you covered.
Read on to learn more about the shop’s beginnings, their plans to go mobile with a fashion truck, and how Smak Parlour is redefining internships.
Tell me a bit about the beginnings of Smak Parlour.
Abby: After graduating, we moved to NYC and worked in the Garment district. After Sept. 11th, we moved back to Philly and started a wholesale line of de-constructed and embellished tees which we sold to hip boutiques across the country. The response was great and gave us the confidence to open our very own shop. We searched for the perfect storefront for years until finding our current location, which we absolutely love.
Who would you say is your number one fashion icon?
Abby: Vintage Barbie.
Katie: Betsey Johnson for her fun, punky, girly sense of style.
Why did you choose to open your boutique in Philly?
Abby: It’s our home, and Old City has the perfect vibe for independently owned businesses.
Smak Parlour employs a lot of college-age interns rather than sales associates. What made you decide to start an internship program?
Abby: We have 3 sales associates currently, and many interns. We offer a fabulous internship program. We did this because we LOVE helping our girls follow their dreams. Philadelphia did not have a lot of options for us when we were looking for internships, so we decided we needed to offer a new hands-on program. The girls have a lot of creative freedom and fun, while learning lots!
What gave you the idea to start a fashion truck?
Katie: We wanted to expand but neither of us wanted a second store, we heard about fashion trucks in LA. It was the perfect fit for us! We can go directly to our customers, it’s the ultimate in customer service.
Describe your signature look.
Abby: A black and white striped tee, skinny black jeans, great wedges, an over the top statement necklace, and a cute hair bow!
Katie: Poofy skirt, fitted tee, layered long necklaces, mis-matched rings.
Other than fashion, what do you guys geek out about?
Abby: I’m an art museum geek. On my recent trip to Spain, I hit up at least a dozen museums and loved every minute of it!
Katie: I’m a post-it junkie/ to-do list maker and a tiny bit obsessed with my cats.