It all began in a shop on Maryland Avenue with a serendipitous meeting in 2003 between two young entrepreneurs, Emily Giebel from California and Wendy Pierce, an Annapolis resident raised in Pennsylvania. Wendy was talking to a shop owner and researching a location for a shop of her own. "I love beauty products," she says, "and I saw a need for the kind of shop I had in mind." Emily came in with the same purpose in mind. "I had been looking on Main Street when someone told me to check out Maryland Avenue," she says.

Their meeting sparked an instant rapport. "From the beginning we were finishing each other's sentences," they recall. Right then and there they defined a seed plan for a partnership in a women's clothing boutique on Maryland Avenue, a location they considered ideal.

Beyond their strong rapport, each had the background, energy and commitment for such a venture. Wendy grew up north of Philadelphia and graduated from the University of Richmond. She described her double major in speech communication and leadership studies as "a softer business degree with more emphasis on critical thinking and interpersonal dialogue."

Wendy was living in Annapolis and commuting to D.C. where she worked as a management consultant. While developing organization designs to help corporations operate more efficiently through technology, she handled the grind of 15-hour days by dreaming. "I would have day-dream breaks," she says. "It was important to find something to make me smile." Then, after the events of September 11, Wendy became more serious about life. "For me," she says, "it was a time to reset boundaries and goals." She was taking steps to fulfill her business goals when she met Emily.

Emily is from the San Francisco Bay area. After high school, she moved to Oxford on the Eastern Shore with her mother and went to the University of Maryland in College Park. After graduating with a degree in American Studies, she went back to California and worked in the field of fashion merchandising.

Emily lived in San Francisco and worked on the corporate side of merchandising. As a buyer for large firms such as Gap, Inc. and Levi Co., she was responsible for the "right mix of products and price range." From her background and experience, Emily saw " as the new luxury." She dreamed of using her expertise in consumer behavior to open a clothing store of her own. Also, she wanted to follow her dream in a smaller, less expensive area. So she decided to come to Annapolis to fulfill her business goals. That's when she met Wendy. Initially theirs was a long-distance partnership between Annapolis and San Francisco. Emily would come east every three to four weeks and, together, they pursued their dream of opening a clothing boutique for women. Then they met for a long weekend in New York where they spent 72 hours weaving together all the details of the new business venture, including the name, logo and location on Maryland Avenue. The name Sitting Pretty was inspired by a beach house sign that Emily saw in the Bahamas. They branded the name and the logo of the girl on the bicycle.

A natural and focused division of responsibility evolved from their individual expertise. Wendy would deal with public relationships, strategic growth and marketing. Emily would handle merchandising, inventory management and the vendors. Then, with the help of the Senior Core of Retired Executives (SCORE), Annapolis Chapter, they finalized their business plan. They went to the banks with their plan for a full-service women's clothing boutique. The plan identified their market. According to Emily, "In retail, you can go two ways-either mass marketing or the kind of investment clothing from a fine boutique." The plan described their business philosophy. According to Wendy, "First, every client is totally special; and second, we do nothing if every client is not the most elegant."

After getting SBA approval for Sitting Pretty, Emily ended the long-distance partnership and moved to Annapolis. Sitting Pretty opened this past June, and the result of their year-long effort at 35 Maryland Avenue is a shop with a lovely exterior of chocolate brown clapboard, marshmallow white trim and banana yellow doors and signs. The front door opens into spacious and inviting rooms with attractive displays of elegant clothing and accessories for women. The porch at the back is lined with flower boxes overflowing with seasonal blooms.

Sitting Pretty targets locals and long-term tourists, offering everything to make a woman feel special. Offerings include event registry, personal shopping, one-of-a- kind designs, and alterations. Currently, the owners go on buying trips to New York four or five times a year. They have 10 designers of excellent dressmaking quality, all exclusive to the Annapolis area. Their master tailor can deliver alterations in a week and, if necessary, overnight.

The event registry guarantees that clothing purchased from Sitting Pretty will not be duplicated at an Annapolis function. Emily says, "I became a boutique shopper five years ago after seeing so many women wearing the same clothing."

Their client wish list records upcoming events and comments about what the customer envisions for a certain event. This list helps create a signature look for every client and for each event. Wendy plans to add a make-up service to their offerings.

Their calendar of monthly catered events includes wine tastings, flower arranging, trunk shows (designers display samples of fabrics and designs), breast cancer awareness and beauty nights.

In the year-long process of creating Sitting Pretty, Wendy and Emily have gone from dreamers to partners and best friends. And yes, they are still finishing each other's sentences.


What event in the Annapolis area are you most looking forward to in 2006?

Powerboat Show
Sailboat Show
Renaissance Festival
Seafood Festival
County Fair

Additional comments ?

Last time we asked, "How many past issues of Inside Annapolis Magazine do you have? " Out of all the responses, we found that most of our readers keep at least 3 issues of Inside Annapolis Magazine around the house, but a couple of our readers have over several years of issues! We're glad to hear that so many of you stay with us!

Thanks to all those that voted!

Results Posted Every Issue!!

Backyard Publications, LLC. ©2004. 433 Fourth St, Annapolis, MD 21403 - Phone 410-263-6300 - Fax 410-267-8668