Mix business acumen with Divine guidance and you’ll have the foundation for fashion shop Priscilla and Pearl. Owner Emily Rich, who also works as a photographer, happened to be on Main Street in Downtown Morristown for a shoot when she walked past a then-empty store front.
It was as if a prayer was answered.
Back in 2013, Rich was operating a jewelry business through trunk shows at various events and venues in the area. Then a friend who operated a boutique business out of her home offered Rich space there. Successful for that run, the business was shuttered when the friend gave birth and wanted to concentrate on her new baby.
Not one to accept defeat, Rich says she “prayed and prayed” about what she should do and how she should go about it.
With her answer standing before her in a space just under 900 square feet, Priscilla and Pearl opened in August 2017.
Rich has been at a dead run since then with near-weekly orders and deliveries of new fashions, accessories and accents for the home.
There’s no definitive label or focus market for the styles and trends Rich offers her customers. As a matter of fact, there are no set styles or trends, just what appeals to Rich and her eye as to what her customers would enjoy wearing.
“As far as a core market, honestly right now, I have clothes which would appeal to 15- and 16-year-olds and then on up to the older set. It’s both classic, which more mature customers would like, and bohemian for the younger crowd,” Rich said.
To keep up with the ever-changing fashion tastes, Rich pores over retail websites, some of which she has applied to be a wholesaler for, although she does admit to a couple of favorites. Those include Free People, her personal choice, and Natural Life for store products.
“Natural Life has a little bit of everything. There are products like picture frames to car drink holder coasters.
“I buy what I like and would wear. I research brands. I like to be relevant. I don’t like high pressure places that stress me out,” she said. “I like to see what’s going on right here and right now but I look at West coast places for what may be coming in the future.”
One advantage for her merchandising strategy is looking at potential items through her photographer’s eye, over just relying on a retailer’s viewpoint. She calls herself a “personality retailer.”
“Will I wear it?” is her bottom-line gauge.
Not only is Rich a hometown girl – she’s a graduate of Morristown-Hamblen High School East – but she’s as family-oriented as she is focused on her business. The name for her store is dear to her heart.
“Priscilla and Pearl were my grandmothers. I was really close to both of them. One lived with my family for a while and I would visit the other grandmother often,” she said. “It only made sense. I see a lot of their style in the clothing here.”
Beyond the store name, family and friends work the store, including Rich’s older sister, Katie Beth Rich, who lends a hand along with three to four other high school and college-aged employees.
With the continued success of Priscilla and Pearl, Rich seems satisfied with her answered prayer.
“When I walked by the store, there was such a peace about it. I think this was God’s will. No fear going in. The day we opened, my mother kept asking if I was nervous about it. All I could tell her was, ‘No!’”
Priscilla and Pearl is located at 215 W. Main St. in historic downtown Morristown. Operating hours are 11 a.m. – 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 11 a.m. – 4 p.m., Saturday.
For more information, call 423-616-0336 or visit the store’s website at www.priscillaandpearl.com.