I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Lizzibeth boutique owner, Lizzi Weasler to talk about her story, store and The Grace Project, a fundraiser and awareness-raiser for Angelman Syndrome named after her niece, Grace.
Lizzi became quite prepared to keep track of the numbers-side of her business through studying engineering at Marquette University. Lizzi describes her engineering background as a functional “insurance policy” to fall back on, since the world of retail is a turbulent affair, where the currents of both economic change and change in style trends commonly capsize new business ventures. That insurance policy is not only a security net, but the underpinning to a very competent skill-set for running a retail business.
Lizzi went to school for engineering, but instead she decided to take an internship at Teen Vogue in New York City. It was an unpaid internship, so she worked two other jobs: J.Crew in Rockefeller Center and The Vintage Twin, a startup clothing company. This was the point where Lizzi really got into the business side of fashion, adding it to her fashion sense that was already recreationally acquired.
After gathering these experiences, she decided to step back from the fast-paced and at times unkind culture of the New York fashion scene. She relocating to Chicago where she worked in finance and risk management, which was also a more lucrative career path.
It was there where Lizzi realized that what she was really looking for was self-employment and the ability to focus on building on her own goals full-time. She then synthesized her knowledge of business, engineering and fashion together into plans for a business of her own.
In 2012, she brought pop-up shops to Milwaukee, which was a new thing for the city. After the construction of a solid business plan, promising financial projections, and meeting the right people, she decided to work from her apartment while bringing these pop-up shops to private parties, bars, shops, and event spaces. Lizzi still offers pop-up shopping, but now with the establishment of the brick-and-mortar Lizzibeth retail shop at 550 E Menominee St. in Milwaukee’s Third Ward, you can now go to her, too. The Lizzibeth style caters to women in their 20s and 30s, as well as women in transition, and for social girls who like to have fun and test out different styles. The trend right now is casual, even for workplaces, so that is Lizzibeth’s current direction.
Lizzibeth, along with being a fashion boutique, doubles as a meeting place for a variety of events. Instead of the pop-up shop coming to you, you can have your own event in the Lizzibeth retail space, saving you the hassles of cleaning and organizing your own space. Lizzi calls this mixture of a boutique and event space an “eventique.” By taking over the hosting duties, Lizzibeth provides a lot more freedom to have fun with your event. The Lizzibeth space is light and tranquil, which makes it a better space to rent for an event than a bar or restaurant, where a noisy environment might prove to be a distraction. The space is available for baby showers, book clubs, meetings, business launchings, non-profits, you name it.
Lizzi reports that the Milwaukee fashion scene is a bit scattered due to a recent cultural twist. There are a few off-Broadway shops that have been around for a decade or so, but the key is turning people’s attention back to Milwaukee, where “buy local” is not only a style trend but a business trend as well. People are looking for storyteller products, where you not only get quality and functionality, but interpersonal meaning.
The Grace Project
Lizzibeth hosts events that directly benefit the Foundation for Angelman Syndrome as part of a campaign she calls The Grace Project. Lizzi has worked with non-profits in the past, but this one hits close to home for her.
Lizzi’s niece, Grace, just turned four-years-old. Grace has Angelman Syndrome, which is a genetic disorder. Children with Angelman Syndrome may not be able to walk or talk, and they commonly have seizures. There are also major dietary restrictions for those with Angelman Syndrome. Grace is in therapy almost every single day if not every day.
Lizzi and other family members are working to raise money for scientific research directly concerning the disorder. The medical research that goes into this syndrome is, of course, crucial for understanding and curing Angelman Syndrome, but could also help make breakthroughs in other genetic disorders, such as Down Syndrome.
Lizzibeth carries storyteller products for The Grace Project in her store, such as bracelets and pouches. She also hosts a fashion show fundraiser, held at the Whiskey Bar at 788 N. Jackson St. in Milwaukee. As of now there have been a total of five fundraiser events since the inception of Lizzibeth. These fashion shows feature local community females as models, and usually bring in around three-hundred attendees. There is a pop-up shop present there, as well as food and beverages.
Lizzi and her family celebrate Grace, and count her Angelman Syndrome as fortunate, as it introduced their family to this great cause.
Lizzibeth is located at 550 Menomonee St. in Milwaukee, WI.
Article and Photos (below): Dandin Kelman for ‘I Live in a Magazine’