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.
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
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
"...clothing 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
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.