Skinny Dip Charleston opened late this spring with a frosé infused party on the second store of their newly renovated bi-level store at 345 King Street, a fabulous fête that was featured in Town & Country. Bringing New England flair to King Street, his retail brand collective founded by two girls who know what it is like to launch their own start-up fashion brands (Ellsworth and Ivey and Beau & Ro respectively) and the retail struggles that can entail. The Skinny Dip concept launched in Nantucket and decided to move south and add a location at the split level retail space on King Street. We have been selling our jewelry with them since they opened, first in their “Local Vibes” section upstairs and now downstairs – and they are killing it! I chatted with owner and co-founder Sara Rossi (pictured below, left with business partner Taylor Ivey) for a bit more behind the scenes look at our featured October retail partner:
Skinny Dip was born somewhat organically as a way to showcase your own brand (Beau & Ro). Can you elaborate on that?
My business partner Taylor and I were each designers before we opened The Skinny Dip, I own Beau & Ro Bag Company and she owns Ellsworth & Ivey. I grew up vacationing each summer on the island, and the way that little girls dream about their Nantucket weddings, that’s how I had dreamt about opening a store on the island. Two years ago we decided to take the leap and open a retail space together, but when we found the perfect space on the docks it was 2,000 square feet and far too big for just our brands. Our solution was to invite brands from other innovative designers who you can’t find on Nantucket. It turned into an incredibly unique and collaborative collective style boutique with an ongoing events calendar and a strong focus on story telling and educating consumers on the brands, the designers and inspiration behind each company in the store.
What inspired you to choose Charleston once Nantucket became a successful platform?
There were the obvious reasons including strong tourism, wealthy locals and a great college town. We also heard from a lot of our brands in our Nantucket store that there was a need for a retail experience like ours on King Street. When we found the 2-floor Boone’s Bar location it just felt right. We saw the potential for a unique, experiential retail environment with a wine and coffee bar, outdoor space and lots of Instagramable moments. We have been overwhelmed with the local support from customers and local brands and businesses who have reached out to collaborate and work with us, all reinforcing that Charleston was the right choice!
Do you find it hard to juggle managing a product centric brand and a retail centric brand?
Not as hard as you would think. I really re-focused Beau & Ro once we opened The Skinny Dip to be very synergistic with the store and The Skinny Dip customer. I design a lot of the collection specifically for the Nantucket and Charleston markets. At the end of the day both businesses hinge on creativity, collaboration and being scrappy!
What are some of your favorite brands/products that have come through Skinny Dip?
Candy Shop Vintage, obviously!… I am very lucky to not only get introduced to amazing emerging and established brands but also the designers and founders behind these brands. We just got a bunch of new fall brands in for fall in Charleston! I am currently obsessing over Birdies, a new slipper brand out of San Fransisco that has rubber soles so they can be worn outside. Unemployed Denim is the definition of cool, the designer takes vintage denim and adorns it with patches. I just bought myself one of her vintage denim jackets with angel wings on the back.
What is your favorite thing about Nantucket that Charleston doesn’t have?
Charleston and Nantucket are actually surprisingly similar — great restaurants, beautiful beaches, cobblestones, historic preservation, strong female business owners to name a few. One thing that Nantucket has that is completely unique to the island is it’s isolation. Being 30 miles out to sea, it is never an easy task to make it to island, so people always arrive with a sense of gratitude and happiness. Whether you’re pulling into town on ferry past all the boats in the harbor, or walking through the cutest airport in the world (that’s not official, but I would bet on it) it’s hard not to have a smile on your face.
What is your favorite thing about Charleston that Nantucket doesn’t have?
Chicken and waffles (just kidding, sort of). I love the permanence of Charleston. When I first started spending time in Charleston this past spring I described it as “Nantucket in real life, aka with an apple store”. It has so much of the charm of summering on Nantucket, but we all get to enjoy it year round!
Skinny Dip has quickly become more than just a retail space. You can find our Candy Shop Vintage jewelry on the first floor, grab a snack or glass of frosé at Rudi’s Cafe E Vino on the second floor of the store or pop by for any of the free events happening weekly at the store. Definitely save the date for the next Girls night out that I will be DJing as #CANDYCAT on Thursday, October 27th featuring a Sail to Sable Trunk show, a manicure bar by Mylk and hair braiding by The Dry Bar Charleston.