Hill merchant overcomes Covid-19 by using Facebook Live

by Len Lear
Posted 11/25/20

There is no doubt that we are going through extremely trying times because of Covid-19, but resourceful, innovative people will find ways to overcome almost any hurdle. During World War II, many …

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Hill merchant overcomes Covid-19 by using Facebook Live

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There is no doubt that we are going through extremely trying times because of Covid-19, but resourceful, innovative people will find ways to overcome almost any hurdle. During World War II, many households dealt with food rationing by adding breadcrumbs to meatballs.

The board game Clue was created during air raids in London to combat boredom as people were confined in their movement. Today, some backyards have been turned into science classrooms for young children, and household objects like straws are turning into toys.

I thought about this when I met Stephanie Jones, 50, owner of Jonesy's Accessories Boutique at 7916 Germantown Ave. in Chestnut Hill, last week. “Before the pandemic we were doing great,” said Jones, who grew up in Mt. Airy and still lives there. “I was gearing up for shows. I had a whole store full of merchandise and had outside shows lined up. Then I had to close it all down.”

But Jones, who went to the now-defunct Cecelian Academy in Mt Airy, Bishop McDevitt High School in Wyncote and Alvernia College in Reading, was not about to give up but rather to turn the proverbial lemons into a lemony cocktail. “So I started doing Facebook Live,” she said, “and that has carried me through. And I am still doing it. I show new arriving merchandise to the store and how clothing and accessories actually look on.

“It has broadened my horizon. I ship it to Philly, Chicago, etc. I try on the clothes so people can see [on their screens] how they look on an actual woman. These 'fashion shows' are a lot of work but fun.” She does quick wardrobe changes and shows how each garment looks with different accessories. “While I'm doing it, customers might come in and model the clothes also, but I am still adhering to the [public health] guidelines. At most I will have five people in my store at one time.

“I would not have done this if not for the pandemic. I used to be camera-shy, but this has pushed me, and I have been so busy vending all over the place.” These “fashion shows” can be seen on Facebook Live, Tuesday and Friday, 6:39 p.m. And “even if you can't tune in then, you can go back and watch a replay. We have local designers for things like hats and coats and products from all over the world.”

Thanks to the exposure Jones has gotten on Facebook Live, she was asked to be on the TV show, Good Day Philadelphia (Fox TV-29, 6 to 10 a.m.), on Sept. 2. You can see the segment on the Fox-29 website. “When the call came, I thought someone was pranking me,” said Jones. “I was so excited. They called on a Monday and came here two days later in the morning. It was a wonderful experience. I got lots of calls and some new customers as a result.”

Jones has always had a love of fashion. After college she went to California in 1992 and spent eight years there working in the film industry with fashion designers and production crews. However, she had two children there and missed home, so she came back to Mt. Airy. Today she has children aged 28, 27, 24 and 17, one of whom is still on the West Coast. “I wish my kids were involved in the business,” Jones said.

Jones had a store in Cheltenham, Jonesy's Boutique, from 2009 to 2012. She began to do “vending,” setting up displays of her products at fashion shows, festivals and women's conferences such as the Jenkintown Festival, South Street June Day and a women's conference at the Philadelphia Convention Center. She would also do the same thing in Chicago, Detroit and Washington, D.C. “I love to travel,” she said. “You meet so many people.”

From 2012 to 2016 Jones was constantly on the road, but in 2016 she opened a boutique at 6338 Germantown Ave. in Germantown that was basically a showroom, only open to the public on weekends and by appointment. The rest of the time Jones was traveling.

Lots of Jones's clothing is loose-fitting. Many items, spectacularly colorful, are one-size-fits-all and very reasonably priced. The accessories are scarves, handbags, jewelry, etc., and she just started selling shoes in October, mostly boots. She has been in Chestnut Hill since October, 2019. “And I love to do pop-ups, two or three a year. We will be doing one from Nov. 21 to Dec. 31 at 8117 Germantown Ave. I will invite designer friends to the pop-up. Actually, my store here started as a pop-up, but it was so successful that I decided to stay here. I love the space.”

For more information, call 267-972-2042. Len Lear can be reached at lenlear@chestnuthilllocal.com

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