In March of this year, the east end of Savannah’s most popular street, Broughton Street, welcomed a new boutique: The Edition Shop. The store owner, Meredith Barfield, dreamed up this store with the help of her husband, Brandon Barfield.
Originally an accountant for her early career for CPA firms, Meredith quit her job to become an accountant for her husband’s construction business, Barfield Enterprises, back in December of 2014. “In doing so, it gave more flexibility with my schedule and allowed me to be more creative and just have the headspace to think about other things that I could do.” Inevitably, those other things would be planning the opening of The Edition Shop.
When you first enter The Edition Shop, you immediately know you are somewhere different than anywhere else in Savannah. You open the dark grey doors and are greeted by the sculptural round entrance table with white vases in the center that are surrounded by trinkets such as scrunchies and candles on display. The smell of a candle burning fills your nostrils and you begin to peruse the hand selected garments and accessories the store has to offer.
The store has been curated by Meredith herself with the help of her friend, Kelsey Bucci, a local freelance stylist and owner of her own e-commerce business, Paris Laundry. They venture to market & showrooms and spend endless hours searching for the perfect pieces to add to the store’s product offering.
Last week, I sat down with Meredith to discuss being a local shop owner and everything that comes with it…
C: You started out in accounting, so how did you get into fashion?
M: Well, I guess I’ve always been interested in fashion and taken pride in how I present myself. I guess maybe a few years ago, Brandon and I were talking about businesses we could start, and we thought about doing a store. I would always say ‘No, no, we don’t have time for that.’ And then last year, we brought it up again because we figured why not. We also felt that there was a need in Savannah for a store like this because there was nowhere in town to get certain brands that we carry.
C: How did you decide on the aesthetic of the store?
M: Mainly the aesthetic was just something that I would like personally, and I guess I just didn’t think much of how it would fit in here [Savannah]. I knew I wanted something different and clean and modern and when people walk in that they feel like it’s different than anything else they’re going to see here.
C: How did you go from being an accountant to a local shop owner?
M: My dad and my grandpa always had their own business. I grew up with my family working for themselves. I was familiar with that environment and hearing about the struggles of owning your own business. I chose accounting because I thought that one day I could work with my dad because he did construction too. I saw that he was always having to call his accountant to do taxes or any kind of financial question, he would direct it to his CPA. That’s why I chose that career path. Also, you learn so much about business and the numbers and how it all goes together. It’s a very great tool to have when you’re opening a business. When thinking about opening a store, I know that being a single person opening something is a challenge, but I guess I felt confident about it because I do have the business background and understanding. When I worked at the CPA firm, my clients were all small business owners, so I got to learn a little bit about a lot of different business ventures. Everybody has different problems and you learn a little bit about everyone’s business. But now I do consider myself a local store owner for sure and the fact that I have the accounting and business background, it just makes me feel confident in making financial decisions for the store.
C: What do you hope for the store to have in the future? Where do you hope it will go?
M: I feel like there is so much growth here in Savannah right now that it is almost the perfect time to open something different. With Instagram and access to seeing trends in bigger cities, I want to be able to offer the local or even the tourist customer in Savannah the chance to buy something they would see in a magazine or online and not just traditional southern fashion. It’s hard - the "future" of the store. I just hope we grow our customer base and people know that they can come here and find something different. We want to inspire people to try new things. I definitely want to grow the online store.
C: What’s it been like to run your own business? Maybe a funny story?
M: It’s definitely stressful but rewarding at the same time. Everything takes longer than you think it’s going to take. It took me a while to find the location. It took a while to get the store open, but I feel like I really do learn something new constantly. Also, because I’m not here full time because I still work with Brandon, it’s definitely been me having to learn to delegate to the employees at the store and to express to the employees at the store what I need done and how I want things done. I’m used to doing everything myself and I can’t be in two places at once. So I’ve learned to delegate and communicate what I want done.
C: What’s market week like?
M: The times that I’ve gone to market, we are pretty efficient with how we do it. I take my friend Kelsey with me, who has an extensive retail background. So, she is definitely a perfect person to take because she has worked in several retail environments and is good at predicting trends and helping me think about different clients and how they can style one piece in a different way. We usually already research the brand that we want to meet with and set our appointments and knock it out in one day. In December, we did go to New York and did a three-day trip where we met with different showrooms because it wasn’t a market environment. That was really fun because we were able to mix in some fun & shopping too. But it is overwhelming to look at all those clothes at one time and at first, I guess I was trying to pick things that I liked but when the store opened I quickly realized that your customer doesn’t necessarily want what you want. They might like dresses more and I liked jeans. I quickly learned that the Savannah customer wants dresses and skirts, so we ordered more dresses and skirts!
C: What has been the most challenging moment you’ve had thus far?
M: I am a perfectionist and I’m working on my patience. I’ve had several people telling me that it’s going to take time and you’re not going to make money right away which has been the case. We’ve had really busy months and June was really, really slow and that’s not easy to see, you know. And you’ll start thinking negatively but you quickly have to stop thinking that way and just think about your goal and new ways to reach customers, marketing and just keep pushing out your idea.
C: What’s been the most fun part?
M: I think the opening party that we did that was just friends and family invited - it was so much fun because the store was just packed full of people who were excited for me. It was just such a great feeling to see everything put together and the team had a great night and it was so fun to have that experience. And it was so great to be able to say, ‘yes we’re a real store and we’re open!’
C: What are some things that you want to implement into the store?
M: I want to start doing more with charitable organizations in the area. I think women here enjoy networking and giving back so when you have store events where people can come shop and meet new people and also give back it’s just a great reason for someone to come into the store and go to an event like that.
C: Circling back to keeping positivity, what are some things that you do in your personal life to get away from work and keep that positive mindset?
M: I definitely meditate for a few minutes every morning and read a daily devotional. I have to take that time because if I don’t my mind is constantly working. I try to take one day during the weekend as mine and Brandon’s day and I try my best not to check my email or think about work or the store.
C: How would you describe your personal style?
M: I like trying certain trendy pieces, but I also just enjoy a pair of jeans and heels. It’s sexy but not overly sexy. It’s more in an elegant way. It’s just like polished and put together.
C: Okay, I have one more question. Any advice for people in the small business industry or just the fashion-retail industry as well?
M: I feel like I have a lot of lessons to learn before I give advice, but I will say here in Savannah that we have the opportunity to employ SCAD students and other fashion majors that go to other schools. Just talking with my employees about other places they’ve worked, they don’t really get any creative input. That’s been really helpful for me to be open to creative ideas and task out the things I think you guys [Edition employees] can do better which would be window displays, signs, photoshoot concepts, executing the photoshoot. I mean that’s not my specialty so why wouldn’t you hire the creative people and let them apply what they’re learning in school to their work? It’s just going to benefit the store.