Chan Namgong has big news: He's opening a women's apparel store in Cameron Village. His store, Bevello, will be the brick and mortar version of his downtown Raleigh-based online boutique, Bevello.com; it will be housed in the corner space where the Frances T. King stationery store was located.
Not familiar with the Web site? Namgong, a 2007 UNC-CH grad, started it about two months ago, after leaving behind a career as an executive with Johnson Automotive Group. "I had a fire in my belly to start my own business."
Namgong, 25, says he's always been interested in the fashion business or, really, the business of fashion: retail merchandising, the psychology of shopping.
He launched the site using his own money. The small staff includes interns from Carolina and N.C. State.
Namgong has strong feelings about style. "I feel personally insulted when men don't care about the way they dress," he says.
That passion is central, he says, to his business. "I want customers to feel love when they shop with us. I want them to love what they've bought."
On Bevello.com, the mood is young and fashion forward. It features clothing and accessories from up-and-coming independent designers like Flying Tomato, Trinity, Glam and Ryu. Models are photographed around downtown Raleigh (they call them "lifestyle pictures"), and the site includes the model's body measurements so that shoppers can compare their own measurements when deciding on size. "That's one of the reasons I don't shop online," Namgong says. "I can't picture myself in the clothes." The price points range from $25 to $150.
Namgong aims to spread the love even after shipping; items are shipped in a scented pink striped tube.
The site has already gotten a mention in Lucky magazine. Most of the customers have been from out of North Carolina; Namgong hopes that the new store will help locals get to know the Bevello way. He hopes it will open in July.
His main motivation is simple. "I love when people have a big smile on their face when they find nice clothing."
Fashion camp for teens
Another young local fashionista has big news: Austin Jade Murray, the 19-year-old designer for Morrisville, is set to launch her 2009 Austin Jade Fashion Rocks camp for teens.
The camp promises "the inside scoop" on the fashion industry, with the chance to learn about designing and sketching, modeling, hairstyling and makeup. The campers will also learn how to get an internship and gain admission in the top design schools.
This year, there are scholarship opportunities to attend the camp, and one camper's design may be included in Murray's collection, which is sold in more than 30 boutiques and resorts around the country.
Murray herself benefited from camp. She has three former campers -- Samantha Tate and Kate Steadman of Cary, and Alexia Conley of Raleigh -- working on her staff now.
The camp is being held July 6 through July 10 at the Raleigh Commons Building at 4011 Carya Drive. It runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. each day. Graduation will include a fashion show, open to the public for $5 per person; the campers will produce the show, applying the skills they learned at camp. Austin Jade will hold a trunk show that day as well with the summer collection discounted at up to 50 percent off.
Interested applicants, ages 11-19, should e-mail the words "more info" to AustinJadeAssistant@yahoo.com to reserve a space and receive a return e-mail message with the camp flier and application. Early registration, by June 30, gets a discounted tuition rate of $163. July applicants pay $179. Tuition includes lunch, material and a limited edition Austin Jade Fashion Rocks camp T-shirt.
Bridal pair compete
Raleigh couple Anita Pagano and Brandon Collins would love to have a wedding like John F. Kennedy Jr.'s to Carolyn Bessette, either on Tybee Island off the coast of Georgia or at Asheville's Biltmore Estate. And that wish could come true with a little help from you.
The couple is one of 10 finalists competing to win a $100,000 wedding planned by WeddingChannel.com and a chance to be featured in Us Weekly and on the syndicated show "Inside Edition."
To win, they need the most votes; so far they have more than 11,000.
Their engagement story is one for our times. They both lost their jobs because of the economic crisis so Collins presented Pagano with an aluminum foil band. "The ring will come! For now, the promise is all that matters," Pagano says on the site.
You can cast your votes at www.usmagazine.com/wedding/vote. Voting ends Thursday. The Dream Wedding winner will be selected June 25.
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