Driving by, you cannot help but do a double take. The hot pink paint job accented with geometric pops of bright orange and a bold, black trim are enough to make anyone curious. Plus that name, “Rack + Clutch,” sprawled across the side practically begs you to come in and see what this fabulous monstrosity outside of Pius Library is all about. Courtesy of J Elizabeth Photography Emily Ponath, owner of Rack + Clutch, poses in front of her truck and brings “free-range fashion” to St. Louis.
Courtesy of J Elizabeth Photography Emily Ponath, owner of Rack + Clutch, poses in front of her truck and brings “free-range fashion” to St. Louis.
Inside you will find Emily Ponath, the owner/driver/shopping guru behind the first mobile boutique in all of Missouri.
“I definitely get a lot of honks and waves driving around, but people love the truck,” said Emily.
After the clothing shop she worked for in the Central West End closed its doors, Emily knew she had to find a new way to continue her passion for fashion. So when word spread that women in the Los Angeles apparel industry were having success with a unique business venture, Emily was quick to dig a little deeper. What she discovered was that the newest fad in fashion was the county’s growing fleet of mobile boutique trucks.
Emily loved the notion of being able to put a storefront on wheels and take the hottest designer styles to shoppers on the streets. Plus, there was a tremendous fiscal appeal to the truck being her store because it greatly reduced the burden of a costly overhead. Without having to worry about things like rent and payroll, Emily felt free to focus on the carefully curated and ultra-hip inventory of Rack + Clutch.
Knowing how responsive St. Louis had been to food trucks, Emily had great confidence in launching her business. She reached out to the pros of city permits – food truckers – and was quickly navigating her way through the legal procedures to make her vision a reality.
Since Emily is the first individual to approach the city council in regards to operating a mobile boutique, she has dealt with some apprehension to grant her request for a permit. Until the necessary people have been persuaded, Emily can only park her truck in specific locations, but this has by no means curbed the steady flow of customers.
Even though she cannot pull up to Food Truck Fridays in Tower Grove or Feast in the Park, she has been welcomed to some major events throughout the area. This past weekend she was at the Big Muddy Blues Festival, but she admits that some of her favorite spots are in front of local businesses, such as La Patisserie Chouquette and Olio in the Shaw Neighborhood. In just the month of August she visited about 20 different locations, ranging from various restaurants and salons to even a stop for a Girl Scout group.
For businesses like Rack + Clutch, social media is their main line of communication with their customers. Without Facebook statuses and tweets people would quite literally not know where to find Emily, so she constantly updates with images of new inventory and a schedule that maps out where she will be throughout the week.
“Just last week I hit 2,000 ‘likes’ on Facebook, so I was super excited,” said Emily.
Walking onto her truck, you’ll be excited, too, by all of the seasonal standouts Emily has packed onto her mobile boutique. Somehow she has managed to keep it from feeling cluttered even though her space is no bigger than a Griesedieck double.
Shifting through the hangers at Rack + Clutch, there were adorable tops, eye-catching dress designs and great statement pieces to perk up anyone’s wardrobe. Emily also has accessories galore with an awesome array of eclectic jewelry and fun handbags. There’s even a dressing room on board so you can check yourself out in your cute new outfit before hopping off the truck!
It only takes one visit to Rack + Clutch to fall in love with the concept of mobile boutiques. Honestly, you’ll leave and be asking yourself why no one else had considered doing this before Emily rolled into town.
So go ahead, like her on Facebook and follow her Twitter (@RackandClutch) so you can catch her curbside and get the cutest trends for this fall!
Article by Molly Rippinger