STURGEON BAY – You might not think that an international fashion model and actress would care about the fashion concerns of women in the everyday world. Perhaps she would have thought of the growing environmental concerns, but it would have been secondary to her life on camera.
Sharon Hinnendael has these concerns, but instead of just putting them into words, she turned them into Sustainable Style Door County, a second-hand fashion store in downtown Sturgeon Bay that sells affordable clothing and accessories that would otherwise likely be headed to a rubbish dump.
Hinnendael said the store is meant to bring fashion to a wide range of women in a wide range of styles, from casual to professional to a night on the town.
“It’s beach sandals and tank tops, luxurious furs, long dresses and everything in between. There’s something for everyone,” said Hinnendael.
Two years ago, the Green Bay native lived the life of a supermodel in Mexico. She had been working as a model for just over 20 years, since she was 12, and was (and still is) represented by the world-renowned Ford Models agency. Hinnendael has posed for clients such as Gucci, Abercrombie & Fitch and Coca-Cola, as well as a photo shoot with actress Penelope Cruz for Vogue.com, and has starred in TV commercials, about a dozen films and had one of the roles major in the Showtime “Look” series.
But Hinnendael was in what she called an abusive marriage and had two children under the age of 2. So, with her parents now living in Sister Bay, she moved back to Northeast Wisconsin, got divorce and child custody, and looked for ways to put her fashion experience to good use between the modeling concerts.
She said her modeling experience helps her give tips and advice for clients who have questions or are looking for the right look for themselves.
“I have toured for so many brands all over the world,” said Hinnendael. “I’d like to hear this marketing person say, ‘Oh, let’s put this top on this model because she’s blonde and the pink top will look good on her and bring out the blue in her eyes.’ I’ve just been to many rooms with many models and felt all that expertise and knowledge.
“And now I’m using it for my shop. … We’ll ask what colors they like, what parts of their body make them feel good.”
Hinnendael decided to launch a shop that would use her fashion sense to offer second-hand clothing that she felt were elegant and of better quality and at an affordable price. She searches for the items that would fill that invoice, repairing and updating them if necessary. He found a number of thrift stores as far as Milwaukee and Madison, where he digs for his wares, as well as the Goodwill and St. Vincent de Paul outlets carrying items that have been on regular store shelves for too long and are very obvious.
“I found designer clothes there, furs there,” Hinnendael said of the outlets. “I’ll spot clean them, add and fix buttons and zippers, sometimes I add embellishments to make it look fresher. I have some things made with that quality, they’re better than what you might find in a boutique.”
This explains not only the “Style” part of the company name, but also the “Sustainable” part. Hinnendael said she realized as she was diving into clothing carts at the outlets that this was their last stop before they were literally thrown in the garbage.
“When I started going to these outlets, I started to realize how many of these things were being thrown away,” said Hinnendael. “You made me understand that we need to do something about it as far as we can.
“Since I’ve been a model for so long, many of my model friends have clothes that have been given to them as a gift and will send me boxes. (But) my preference is to go to thrift stores, dig and stop the clothes end up in landfills “.
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Hinnendael launched an online store on the popular vintage clothing website Poshmark in June 2020, “selling to friends and family,” she said. She opened her brick and mortar store on August 1 in the former Nicolet Bank building on North Fourth Avenue with the help of a $ 10,000 grant from the state’s Main Street Bounceback program.
“My dad saw online that there was a grant program for companies that were moving into buildings that were old business,” Hinnendael said. “He was giving a grant to businesses to start something in spaces that had been vacant.”
Hinnendael can consult clients on fashion ideas if desired. She’s not always in the store: in addition to her trips to thrift shops and outlets to dig up more clothes, she still does modeling gigs and the two kids are there too.
But Hinnendael said if she’s not there, customers can shop at the store and pay for items via the Venmo mobile payment service, and her business partner, Wendy Shepard, can answer questions at Shepard’s children’s boutique. next door, Fairy Tale Couture. Customers can also contact her for a FaceTime app consultation, and she hopes she can eventually set up a screen in the store for FaceTime consultations.
She said the goal is to help her clients feel good about themselves. She added that she is willing to work on prices with women who are unlucky, perhaps looking for a better job or experiencing other difficulties that may make it difficult for them to find beautiful, better quality clothes.
“The point was to share my knowledge of fashion,” said Hinnendael. “But most of all, I want women to come here, no matter how much money you have, I want you to look good and feel good about yourself … I want women to know, especially if they are having a hard time, maybe they are looking for a job and need to look professional, i am willing to help.
“The point was to keep clothes from ending up in landfills and to make women feel good.”
While it might seem like what would be considered trendy in places like New York or Rome wouldn’t necessarily be right in Door County, Hinnendael said she believes good fashion is good fashion everywhere.
“I would say that women are the same everywhere. They want quality,” she said.
And the results have been positive so far, Hinnendael said.
“We’re getting photos of (customers) saying, oh, they feel so good,” she said. “That’s why I’m doing it: to give them confidence so they can go out into the world, be a better mom or woman, or be more confident at work.”
For your information
Sustainable Style Door County is located in the former Nicolet Bank building at 217 N. Fourth Ave., Unit 15, Sturgeon Bay. It is currently open from 9am to 5pm every day except the occasional Sunday. For more information, call or text Sharon Hinnendael at 920-421-3667 or visit Sustainablestyle.us or the “Sustainable Style Door County” Facebook page.
Contact Christopher Clough at 920-741-7952, 920-562-8900 or email@example.com.