BY MOLLY BRUSH
PHOTOS BY RICHARDSON STUDIO
When Katie Whitson moved from Iowa to Bloomington to be closer to her family, she realized that many of her favorite clothing brands weren’t available here. Though she worked in the agricultural industry in Iowa and had no experience in retail, she decided to make the leap from farming to fashion, working with Iowa-based Blond Genius Denim Bar to license the store’s brand. She opened the first Blond Genius store outside of Iowa in Fountain Square Mall in December 2015. In August 2016, she relocated to Renwick Village Center.
“I decided that there was a niche here,” says Whitson, 33. “Bloomington had a lot of great boutiques, but I felt like this was a great additional layer to the fashion scene.”
Whitson describes the store’s aesthetic as “effortlessly chic.” Though its specialty is denim, Blond Genius carries a variety of women’s clothing, shoes, accessories, and gifts by brands such as Rag & Bone, Current/Elliott, Vince, Rails, Alice and Olivia, Mother Denim, Joie, AG Jeans, n:Philanthropy, Citizens of Humanity, and Paige Premium Denim. Most of the products are investment pieces intended to last for many years, she says.
Blond Genius customers range from professionals to stay-at-home moms to retirees. “We do cover a broad demographic of women of all ages, shapes, and sizes,” Whitson says. What they have in common, she says, is a desire to look good and feel good.
“Things have to fit well, be comfortable, and be functional,” she says. To help customers make the most of their shopping experience, Blond Genius offers personal styling, denim makeovers such as hemming and embroidery, and private shopping appointments.
“We hope everyone takes some time to come in and challenge us to find them a great-fitting pair of jeans,” Whitson says.
Take a look at this slideshow from our Blond Genius fashion shoot! (Click on the photo below to view the gallery. Use the on-screen arrows or the arrows on your keyboard to navigate forward and backward.) PHOTOS BY RICHARDSON STUDIO