Julie Moberly owns Jules, a 500-square-foot consignment clothing store on 34th Avenue in Madrona, which operated as the Driftwood Boutique for a decade until last June, when Moberly acquired the business from its previous owners.
Is there money in used clothes?
There is! I offer a 50-50 split to the consignor and I’m always trying to find that sweet spot between doing well by the person who is selling their clothing and the customer who wants to find something nice at a good price.
Is there a term other than “used clothes” that you prefer?
“Resale.” I think that elevates it a little bit.
What’s the appeal of shopping consignment?
Getting a great deal on a great piece that you aren’t going to see on other people.
There are numerous consignment stores in Seattle. What draws people to Jules?
People like how edited and curated the store is — they don’t feel overwhelmed. I’m not competing with the mall, so even though I carry some basic clothing lines like Zara or Gap, I only pick it if it’s really cute or if I think it’s going to work well with a piece that is a bit more frivolous or high end.
You bought Jules from a husband/wife team. Why did you want to buy the business?
Natalie [Anderson] and Adam [Peart] had built a great brand with a strong customer base — I was a customer myself — plus, the space was charming and in a lovely neighborhood. In addition, I had a plot twist in my own personal life. My 29-year marriage had ended, my children were grown and didn’t need me as much, and I was ready for a new adventure.
Why did you specifically want to own a consignment clothing business?
I’m a textile person with a deep quilting background and I love working with women. On top of that I am, at heart, an entrepreneur. I started a newspaper in central Massachusetts, I’ve manufactured a day planner for women and I’ve taught time management for creative people. This business seemed like a great way to focus that crazy portfolio of skills.
Are you yourself a resale buyer?
Always. I love the hunt!
Are you also a coupon person?
Not at all.
How do you keep from taking the best stuff for yourself?
I don’t! (Big laugh). I try not to buy too much, though, because I have to make a living, plus fantastic things come through the store every day, so there’s always going to be something great.
How has your life changed, personally, in buying this business?
It has given me so much more confidence. I’ve learned to stand my ground and to see problem solving as a creative process. Somebody said to me, “From whatever point you’re standing, there are always five solutions to every problem.” That has been extremely helpful.
Consignment clothing stores often have a particular odor, but Jules does not. Why?
Thank you in capital letters! I have a lavender oil diffuser in the corner and I keep everything clean.
Are there particular items that tend to sell quickly?
Guest-of-the-wedding dresses, work dresses, cocktail dresses, funky pieces from high-end designers, and certain brands like A.L.C. and Velvet.
What doesn’t sell quickly?
Denim and shoes.
How long do you hold on to an item?
Sixty days. If I feel it’s something that just hasn’t found its right owner, I’ll ask the consigner if they’d like to keep it on the floor. If I feel like it’s not going to move, the consignor can take it back or I will donate it to the Jubilee Women’s Center. Jubilee is a fabulous nonprofit residential program that helps women who have been victims of domestic violence or homelessness or had some other huge challenge in their life.
Do you have a vision of where Jules will be in five years?
The store will stay the same, with a few additions like greeting cards and a small gift line — soaps, candles, lotion, tea. In the big picture, I’d like to replicate the Jules formula in different neighborhoods around the city.
How would you describe your relationship to money?
I grew up with Depression-era parents and I’ve carried some of those attitudes of scarcity with me, so I’ve been trying to grow in my ideas about money and see it more as a tool, as energy.
How do you handle the endless details of owning a small business?
I send myself emails at 2 a.m. I keep lists. I prioritize and stay strategic. And I walk, pray, do affirmations and make a gratitude list every day.
What gives you comfort?
I have great girlfriends and I have a little dog, a dachshund named Gretchen, who is the light of my life!
You’re stuck on a desert island and can have one book, one record, one food and one piece of clothing.
Things Are What You Make of Them by Adam Kurtz, Paul Simon’s Graceland or Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours, an avocado sprinkled with Maldon sea salt, and, since it’s a desert island, my swimsuit.
What style of swimsuit?
A black, sexy one-piece, with some flattering ruching.
For more on artists, entertainers and entrepreneurs, tune in to Art Zone with Nancy Guppy on the Seattle Channel