When Sue McCarthy, owner of The Womens Closet Exchange was young, she dreamed of living the world of high fashion. She quickly came to realize that the monetary funds needed to purchase high-end fashion just werent at her disposal. When it came time to marry the love-of-her-life, she knew she wanted a beautiful wedding gown, but couldnt afford the price, so she found the dress of her dreams in a newspaper ad, and headed out to purchase it at a fraction of the cost it should have been - SWEET!
So, 25 years ago, as Sues family continued to grow, right along with her bargain hunting ways, she was taken aback by how consignment shops looked and felt. She would ask herself Why do all these places have to be so dark, dingy and dirty? Alas, if you want something done right, you might as well do it yourself - so she did - and started the Womens Closet Exchange in South St. Louis.
Sue has taken her initial consignment shop - that was a whopping 300 square feet, with a couple employees and hardly any customers, and has changed it into a 4,000 square foot high end boutique - lovingly known as SAKS South- that carries names like Chanel, Gucci, Coach, Prada and many more. Sue shared The whole reason why I created Womens Closet Exchange so many years ago, was to make high-end fashion accessible for any women who wanted it, and now we have more Chanel than Saks 5th Avenue - now thats saying something! As the Womens Closet Exchange has continued to grow, it has become A family affair. Sues daughter Laura, who ran The Purple Cow, a childrens & maternity consignment shop in the same complex as Womens Closet Exchange, decided that it was time to head back to Womens Closet Exchange to assist her mom with the Closet Buys. Hold onto your hats ladies - closet buys are when Laura and her team are invited into womens homes to purchase high-end fashion apparel and accessories - some of the items have never even been worn - and they purchase them outright for the boutique. And all of the closets they explore arent necessarily right here in St. Louis. Sue & Laura travel to New York, to L.A., even to Paris to purchase items for the Womens Closet Exchange. They also have access to famous clients, who graciously let them invade their closets to bring back treasures for the store.
Sues daughter Diana, whose previous career was in the travel industry, wanted to make a career change about 6 years ago too, so Sue decided to make her an offer she couldnt refuse, making her the Marketing Director for the Womens Closet Exchange, The Purple Cow & Clique. Dianes background in travel has come in handy too, as she orchestrates Shopping Adventures for the Womens Closet Exchange through her travel and excursion company The Shopping Company, which specializes in distinctive shopping excursions for groups and individuals. Six to seven times a year, Diana and her team, including her personal assistant Jourdan, take shoppers on boutique and resale shopping tours in fashion mega places like New York City, Scottsdale Arizona and Dallas Texas, as well as resale bus tours monthly here in St. Louis (for more information on these tours, please visit shopcotours.com).
With all of this fashion buying frenzy and world traveling going on, you would think these ladies would have enough on their plates - but, you know the old adage - if you want something done, ask a busy person to do it - well it definitely fits in the lives of these globe-trotting women, as they embarked upon a new adventure for the Womens Closet Exchange last season - Reality TV.
NBC picked up a new reality series for the Style Network fondly named Resale Royalty! Each week you could see these incredible women working away - doing what they do best - bringing the Womens Closet Exchange to life. My son-in-law, Jon Maurice, would be around here and say to us - This place, and all of you working together, would make a fantastic reality show, Sue said. Jon is a partner in NoCoast Originals, so he concepted and produced a sizzler, in conjunction with Coolfire Originals, of what a reality show of Womens Closet Exchange might look like. He then pitched it to Rachel Zoe, American fashion stylist of celebrities and star of The Rachel Zoe Project; she absolutely loved it, and decided to sign on as Executive Producer of the show. NBC decided they loved the whole concept too - and turned the sizzler, and us, into Resale Royalty. This whole process has been too exciting for words. For 16 weeks we filmed what we do at the Womens Closet Exchange - from the closet buys, to putting merchandise into the store, to the trials and tribulations of all of us working together - it was all put out there for the viewers to see. We have received incredible feedback from everyone involved, and doing the show was so much fun! Bringing the viewers from all over the country to our little neck of the woods here in St. Louis is exciting too! The show has given us the opportunity to show the world that we are more than just a resale shop. We provide women the opportunity to live the world of high fashion that might not be able to afford it without us. It has also provided us with the opportunity to give back to the women in our community. Each year we provide makeovers for women who are changing their lives for the better, and we love being a part of this process. It is truly a fantastic feeling knowing we are changing lives, and allowing ladies to live their dreams, and Resale Royalty has provided even more exposure for us and what we do here. As Sue and her daughters Laura and Diana are waiting to see if Resale Royalty will be picked up for another season, they continue to hit the road to make sure that only the best is available for their customers whenever they visit the Womens Closet Exchange.
The Womens Closet Exchange is located at 11575 Gravois Rd, St. Louis MO, 63126. For more information, womensclosetexchange.net.