Today I’m excited to share with you an up-and-coming online pop-up shop and lifestyle guide for preps—5-Knots! Enjoy this sneak peek interview with co-founder Amy Devlin and be sure to sign-up in advance of their November 26 launch.
Tell us a little bit about your background and how you came up with the idea of 5-Knots.
I am definitely a prep out of place. I’m originally from a small coastal town in Massachusetts. I lived in Boston for five years and worked in marketing after graduating college. A few years ago I moved over to Ireland to pursue a master’s degree in marketing. Now, I’m currently living in San Francisco soaking up the laid back west coast lifestyle.
The idea for 5-Knots came from my love of anything preppy paired with my obsession for finding unique, one-of-a-kind items. I’ve moved around quite a bit and I’ve been exposed to a variety of styles and new brands. My aim is to introduce 5-Knots members to high-quality brands that maybe they’ve never heard of before. I want to infuse a sense of excitement and discovery into our collections and content.
On the editorial side, 5-Knots will focus on highlighting critical wardrobe elements that you should invest in vs. the type of item that’s better to get on sale. Preps, as you know, buy classic quality staples that will last years. Pairing these classic staples with some fresh trends can enliven your wardrobe and take you from season to season (without breaking the bank).
What is your favorite thing about starting your own business?
I love that I have the ability to execute my vision without having to report to someone else. After years of working towards someone else’s goals I am now working towards my own and it’s a very rewarding feeling! Plus, I will admit that it’s nice to wear pajamas to my “office.”
What kinds of things can we expect to find at 5-Knots? How will it be different than other shops or e-commerce sites?
I want 5-Knots to bring together various curated preppy styles and brands under one metaphorical “roof.” Shopping online is convenient but I miss that feeling of walking into a boutique and discovering brands that I’ve never heard of before. I was in Maine a few months ago and I walked into a small shop called Beachology. I was lost in that shop for hours! I want to bring a similar sense of discovery and excitement back to online shopping.
What I’m most excited about is having the opportunity to work with preppy lifestyle bloggers to curate styles. I have a small team of stylists who I am working with now but the goal is to mix it up and bring in fresh perspectives. It’s interesting to see how preppy styles evolve in different parts of the world. California, for instance, definitely has a preppy flair but it’s more laid back and subdued. I want 5-Knots to explore all of those different styles without straying to far away from what we all consider “true prep.”
We’re entirely focused on building 5-Knots slowly. We don’t want to just put products on our site to make money. We will take our time to really find interesting products we think will resonate with our members. This month we launch in beta. It’s such an overused and contrived term but honestly, it fits the stage we’re in right now. We’re testing the waters with some unique, small collections to gauge what our members are interested in.
What brands, styles, interiors, or destinations inspire you?
I love classic brands that manage to transport you to a specific time and place. Whenever I see Vineyard Vines flip flops I just think of summer on the beach in Massachusetts. But right now I am actually completely in love with what’s happening in menswear! It seems like every where I go now men are dressed to the nines in well-tailored suits or just well thought out and dapper looking outfits. Brands like Indochino and Frank & Oak are making that not only possible but affordable.
I used to work for an architecture firm so I have a heightened sense of awareness when it comes to interior design. I love a mix of modern and classic styles. There’s something about the old meets new juxtaposition that creates a space that’s both cozy without being stuffy. I will always feel immediately at home in worn-in beach cottages. The mish-mash of furniture and sand on the floor that never seems to go away; it reminds me of being a kid!
My favorite destinations are ones that obviously involve a beautiful beach but I also love places that really push me out of my comfort zone. I’ve traveled to some interesting places, where I didn’t know the language or have a working cell phone. There’s a huge sense of accomplishment that comes from being able to get from point A to point B in a foreign country with a language barrier and no GPS working against you. I’m not even convinced I can get around San Francisco without my iPhone now!
What advice would you give to anyone looking to launch an online boutique or pop-up shop?
The two most important lessons I’ve learned so far are:
1.) It never hurts to ask.
2.) Tell everyone!
I realized that I had two weaknesses when I started 5-Knots. First, I hated asking people for things, whether it’s a discount, a donation, whatever, it just feels like begging. But, I was amazed at the generosity and understanding of the various designers and brands I’ve worked with so far. It’s hard to ask someone to buy into a vision before they can see anything tangible.
The other challenge I personally found was my trepidation to tell people about my idea. Getting the word out in your own social network is incredibly important in the early stages. I told a few close friends who spread the word like crazy for me but I didn’t tell everyone. It’s scary to start something on your own and my biggest fear was “what if I tell people about my idea and it doesn’t work out?” Getting over that initial fear is intimidating but if you believe in what you’re creating, then other people will too.
Sign up for 5-Knots today, or stay up to date with them on Facebook and Twitter.