Before Stephanie Sipley opened her Andover boutique, SoleAmour, in 2011, her husband floated the idea of her starting an e-commerce business instead of a brick-and-mortar shop. But Sipley knew that an online store wouldn’t allow her to engage in what she loves most about her job: deeply personal customer service.
“That’s just not me,” she says, holding a cup of coffee and chatting warmly in her chic and comfortable shop. “I want to be face-to-face with people. The customers have become my friends.”
Indeed, Sipley says you’ll often find her encouraging a customer to take a bag home to see how it looks with different outfits, gently leading a husband toward his wife’s favorite necklace before Valentine’s Day, or driving a pair of boots through a snowstorm to a busy customer’s house to personally deliver them herself.
“I really just try to make it easy for my customers,” she says.
Now Sipley has taken her love for her customers—and her successful business—to Winchester with a new shop that opened in September. The Winchester location of SoleAmour not only features all of the gorgeous shoes and accessories that have made the Andover store a favorite, but also includes clothing, in a space that’s twice the size.
Sipley’s retail experience began when she was in high school, working at a department store in her hometown of Concord, New Hampshire. That passion took her to New York City and Chicago to work for brands like J. Crew and Oilily, where she worked in visual merchandising, a job that put her in charge of store design. That experience is evident at SoleAmour, where distressed leather chairs embellished with chic throw pillows and a wide upholstered ottoman are placed comfortably among the merchandise, inviting a shopping experience that’s both chic and easygoing.
SoleAmour has a devoted clientele in the area, who knows the shop is a go-to for shoes that are as stylish as they are comfortable, from brands like Bussola, AGL, All Black, Joy & Mario, Calleen Cordero, and Meher Kakalia, as well as accessories and fun gift items.
Browse the Andover shop and you’ll find items like beautiful vegan leather handbags, handmade jewelry that’s often one of a kind, adorable Lola Cruz sneakers embellished with a Swarovski crystal smiley face, and Sipley’s own jewelry line, AvaLila, named after her daughters. Although many of the shoes that SoleAmour carries are boutique-only brands, Sipley does carry some department store brands, like Sam Edelman and Stuart Weitzman, to once again make things easy on her customers.
“I don’t want my customers to have to go to the mall,” Sipley says. “They don’t want to go to the mall.”
There are also fun gift items, like heart-shaped handmade ceramic bowls from an Arizona artisan and super-insulated stainless steel S’well bottles that come in three sizes (including one big enough to hold a whole bottle of wine).
The addition of gifts and more accessories to the “shoetique” came directly from feedback from customers, who appreciate that they can find the perfect unique gift at an affordable price. “It came out of a need,” Sipley says. “Everything is what my customers tell me.”
Customer feedback also drives the new SoleAmour Winchester location, which not only carries the shoes, accessories, and gifts that the Andover shop has become known for, but also clothing as well.
“The great thing about Winchester is the head-to-toe dressing,” says Sipley, which includes anything you can pair with jeans, whether it’s a beautiful sweater from One Grey Day or a high-end tee from XCVI. Also generating buzz—and lots of trips to Winchester by customers—is the large selection of denim the store carries that’s under $100, allowing shoppers to get great-quality items without overspending.
“I wanted to be that store where you could get a nice outfit and not break the bank,” Sipley says. She wants her customers to look good and feel good, and she wants to help.
“People don’t want to fuss,” she says. “It has to be easy.”
17 Thompson Street