I still remember receiving the keys to my original storefront. I raced over immediately to stand in the space—the floors were torn up, and a wall had recently been knocked out. But the Santa Barbara sun streamed through windows, and as light illuminated the ruin, I began to picture what could take shape beyond the chaos. I closed my eyes and envisioned creating an elevated shopping experience with a distinct aesthetic point of view. I imagined stylish, discerning women shopping the racks of emerging designers and fashion industry favorites.
When I opened my eyes and got to work, I saw the beginnings of what would become Whistle Club.
During this eye-opening time in history, I've been looking inward and reflecting on the future of the fashion industry, and with it, Whistle Club's role in shaping the new frontier. When I started my career in New York, it was on the heels of numerous changes that have transformed the industry as we know it today. From working as a buyer at the height of Gilt Groupe's reign to transitioning into my role as an editor for one of the most respected trend forecasting companies in the country, I cultivated a holistic understanding of fashion and business. I loved having my pulse on the industry and understanding how macro trends and cultural values were being reflected through fashion—the shows, the showrooms, the street style; the list goes on. My time in New York solidified my love for thoughtful design.
When I found myself on the west coast a short while later, I knew I still wanted to continue working within the industry. I researched the retail landscape of Santa Barbara and noticed the boutiques primarily hosted more mass-market brands or were 110% California lifestyle-driven. Calling on my past experiences, I felt compelled to fill a void in the marketplace by introducing a tight edit from independent designers and fashion industry staples who had no representation in the area. And perhaps most importantly, I wanted to curate a space that would lend itself to educating and building a community.
Since opening our doors, it’s been an honor to introduce our local community to Whistle Club's designers—many of whom are leading the way in sustainability and design innovation. To that point, so much of our community's ingenuity has inspired me to breathe new life into how I translate Whistle Club's value to a broader audience. Without our doors open this Spring to see our guests in person, I realized that there was no better time to kick off Whistle Club's digital relaunch.
While we pride ourselves on being a source of sartorial discovery, this year has been a time of rediscovering why I started Whistle Club. It has also encouraged me to approach digital more thoughtfully and in a manner that will be a true reflection of the quality, integrity, and design of the collections we curate. In the coming months, we'll be revamping our social and storytelling presence to bridge the divide between our in-store experience so that we can better share our love for fashion with women in Santa Barbara—and beyond.
This is an unprecedented time for the fashion industry, but by embarking on the next chapter of Whistle Club's story, I've rediscovered something I had forgotten in the chaos of running a business, of motherhood, of life: the subtle but striking power of clothes and how they can enhance one's mood, instill confidence, and increase productivity. It's something I'm excited to engage with our community about, and as I think back on those early days of standing in the middle of that empty room, I can't help but smile at the thought of what I'll (re)discover next.
- Rebecca McKinney Blair, Founder and Buyer of Whistle Club
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