STURGEON BAY – You might not think an international model and actress cares about women’s fashion concerns in the everyday world. Maybe she would reflect on the growing environmental concerns, but that would be secondary to her life on camera.
Sharon Hinnendael has those worries, but instead of just paying attention to them, she’s turned them into Sustainable Style Door County, a second-hand fashion boutique in downtown Sturgeon Bay that offers affordable clothing and accessories that would otherwise , would probably be directed to a landfill.
Hinnendael said the store is intended to offer clothing for a wide range of women in a wide range of styles, from casual to professional to a night out on the town.
“It’s beach sandals and tank tops, super high-end fur coats, maxi dresses, and everything in between. There’s something for everyone,” Hinnendael said.
Two years ago, the Green Bay native was living the modeling life in Mexico. She had been working as a model for just over 20 years, since the age of 12, and was (and still is) represented by the famous agency Ford Models. Hinnendael has posed for clients including Gucci, Abercrombie & Fitch, and Coca-Cola, as well as photo shoot with actress Penelope Cruz for Vogue.com, and she has starred in television commercials, a dozen films, and has had one of the main roles in the Showtime series “Look”.
But Hinnendael was in what she called an abusive marriage and had two children under the age of 2. So, with her parents now living in Sister Bay, she moved back to northeast Wisconsin, got a divorce and custody of the kids, and looked for ways to put her fashion background to good use between modeling gigs.
She said her modeling background helps her make suggestions and recommendations to clients who have questions or are looking for the right look for themselves.
“I’ve shot for so many brands all over the world,” Hinnendael said. “I would hear that person in marketing say, ‘Oh, let’s put that top on that model because she’s blonde and the pink top will look good on her and bring out the blue in her eyes.’ I’ve just been in a lot of rooms with a lot of models and heard all of this expertise and knowledge.
“And now I’m using it for my own store. … We’re going to ask them what colors they like, what parts of their body make them feel good.”
Hinnendael decided to start a boutique that would use her fashion sense to offer second-hand clothes that she felt were stylish and of higher quality, and at an affordable price. She searches for items that would fill that bill, fixing and improving them as needed. She’s found a number of thrift stores as far away as Milwaukee and Madison where she digs for her wares, as well as Goodwill and St. Vincent de Paul outlet stores that sell items that have sat too long on regular store shelves. and are heavily discounted.
“I found designer clothes there, fur coats,” Hinnendael said of the outlets. “I’ll clean them, add and fix buttons and zippers, sometimes add embellishments to make it look cooler. I have things that are made with such quality, they’re better than what you would find in a shop.”
This represents not only the “Style” part of the company name, but also the “Sustainable” part. Hinnendael said she realized as she dived into clothing carts at outlets that it was their last stop before they were literally tossed in the trash.
“When I started going to these factory outlets, I started realizing how much of this stuff was thrown away,” Hinnendael said. “It made me realize that we have to do something about it, as much as we can.
“Because I’ve been a model for so long, a lot of my modeling friends have clothes that have been gifted to them, and they send me boxes of them. (But) my preference is to go to thrift stores, dig around and prevent clothes to go to the landfill.”
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Hinnendael launched an online store on popular vintage clothing website Poshmark in June 2020, “selling to friends and family,” she said. She opened her brick-and-mortar store Aug. 1 in the former Nicolet Bank building on North Fourth Avenue with the help of a $10,000 grant from the state’s Main Street Bounceback program.
“My dad saw online that there was a grant program for businesses moving into buildings that were former businesses,” Hinnendael said. “It was about giving grants to businesses to start something in spaces that were vacant.”
Hinnendael can consult with clients on fashion ideas if desired. She’s not always in the store – in addition to her trips to thrift stores and factory outlets to unearth more clothes, she’s always taking modeling gigs, and there’s also the two kids.
But Hinnendael said that if she’s not around, customers can shop in the store and pay for items through the Venmo mobile payment service, and her business partner, Wendy Shepard, can answer questions in the store for Shepard’s children next door, Fairy Tale Couture. Customers can also contact her for consultation on the FaceTime app, and she hopes to eventually set up a screen in the store for FaceTime consultations.
She said the goal is to help her clients feel good about themselves. She added that she was open to working on pricing with women who were down on their luck, perhaps looking for a better job or facing other challenges that might prevent them from finding great clothes. better quality.
“The goal was to share my fashion knowledge,” Hinnendael said. “But most importantly, I want women to come here, no matter how much money you have, I want you to look good and feel good about yourself. … I want women to know, especially if they are going through a tough time, maybe they are looking for a job and need to look professional, I am ready to help them.
“The goal was to keep clothes out of landfills and to make women feel good.”
While it might seem like what would be considered fashionable in places like New York or Rome wouldn’t necessarily work well in Door County, Hinnendael said she believes good fashion is good fashion everywhere. .
“I would say women are the same everywhere. They want quality,” she said.
And the results have been positive so far, Hinnendael said.
“We get pictures of (customers) saying, oh, they feel so good,” she said. “That’s why I do this – to give them confidence so they can go out into the world, be a better mother or a better wife or be more confident at work.”
FOR YOUR INFORMATION
Sustainable Style Door County is located in the former Nicolet Bank building at 217 N. Fourth Ave., Unit 15, Sturgeon Bay. It is currently open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily except occasionally on Sundays. For more information, call or text Sharon Hinnendael at 920-421-3667 or visit sustainablestyle.us or the “Sustainable Style Door County” Facebook page.
Contact Christopher Clough at 920-741-7952, 920-562-8900 or [email protected]