PSFK chats with Joey Wolffer, creator of the Styleliner accessories truck, who discusses the next iteration of the pop-up shop.
Everyone loves a good road trip, but sadly few are able to turn that fun weekend trip into a fulfilling and full-time career. However, the talented Joey Wolffer — the brains and the brawn behind “luxury on wheels” fashion-mobile the Styleliner — has managed this epic feat. By renovating a twenty-foot potato chip truck, Wolffer, who is a former jewelry designer for Meems LTD, providing accessories for several High Street stores in the UK, and then later a Jewelry Designer for Nine West and Trend Director for all of Jones Apparel Group, offers a constantly rotating selection of impossible-to-find accessories. Through Styleliner, Wolffer has created a unique mobile shopping experience, utilizing her vast experience and worldliness to curate limited-edition pieces not found in your typical bricks and mortar store.
Though she’s a busy, jet-set woman of the world, we were able to catch up with Joey before she embarked on yet another trip across the world (this time to Nairobi) for a few quick questions.
I guess, first I should start off by asking, what are you doing in Nairobi?
I was in Kenya for a combined product trip, safari and a great friend’s wedding. It was the trip of a lifetime. The Kenyan people are the most wonderful people in the world and the artisanship is incredible. I was also very lucky to meet a designer who lives in Nairobi and is going to do special pieces for the Styleliner!
I know you’ve been taking your company on some serious travel adventures (Palm Beach, etc). What are some of your best “tour stories?” Where else did you end up traveling to?
The Styleliner is a well traveled truck. She’s been to NY, Connecticut, New Jersey, Florida and Montreal, Canada. The trip to Montreal was one of the funnier ones. I drove from NY with my husband. Because we left New York so late, we arrived at the border at about midnight. After already going through the wrong gate to get through, we had to park the truck and go to the customs agent in this very intimidating building. It’s funny because whenever I deal with customs, without fail I feel like I have done something wrong even though I haven’t, so I have a constant look of guilt when amongst them. We got passed through the entire customs team at the border because no one knew what to do with our little shop on wheels, we were not their everyday crowd at all! They finally let us go, but it was such an amusing experience trying to explain what the truck was.
Anyways, the road trip continues this spring with jaunts in LA, San Francisco area and DC, so we will be on the go, getting the brand out there!
What made you want to start this project? Is it more difficult to work on your own this way rather than with a larger brand or company attached? Is it in some ways more liberating?
I traveled a lot for my different positions at the Jones Group and realized there were some incredible designers out there who weren’t represented in the US. I wanted to create a space to show them but I couldn’t see myself opening a conventional retail shop. With the craze of food trucks and social media becoming integral in business, I felt a boutique on wheels was the way to go. Because at that time (I started hunting for the truck in April 2010) there weren’t many or even any shopping trucks, it was a challenge because I was really starting from scratch without anything to look at for direction. I brought on an amazing interior designer Regina Kay who really made the vision a reality.
Starting your own business is intimidating, but equally rewarding. There are days when I think having a 9-5 job would be so much easier, but then that’s not me. I love what I do from every angle…I like the discovery of new pieces that are so different than anything I have ever seen before, the travel, working with customers to understand the product and how it caters to their individual style. I feel so lucky and proud to have dreamt of something and seen it become a reality, but of course there are challenges. Building a brand is no easy task, it takes time and commitment, but it is SO exciting when you meet someone and they say they’ve heard of you and what you’re doing. I don’t have any regrets, I work 100 times harder than I ever have but I’m seeing results and that is worth it!
How do you decided which designers will make the final cut?
For me, it’s all about being fresh and original. I don’t want to carry someone that has a version of something I’ve seen before. Each of the designers I carry have their own style and story. I have such been so lucky to create such great relationships with all the people I work with.
Where does your love of fashion come from?
I know as a little girl I was always concerned about my outfits. My mom once dressed me in a peach colored Naf Naf tshirt, a mint green high waisted go-go type skirt and Neon ballet flatss and I never could forgive her, (I was 7), so from then on I took over as much as one can at that age of course. Fashion is in my blood. My great great grandfather was the founder and creator of Marks and Spencer, so I’ve always felt the urge to follow in his footsteps, in my own way of course. My mother was also an incredible jewelry designer and worked for Van Clef and Harry Winston, so I think it was my route all along!
Where would you like to take the Styleliner?
From a perspective of location and destination, I’d like the Styleliner to have homes all over the US, but at least 1 truck on the east coast and one on the west and then many little Styleliners across the country. I’d like the Styleliner to be the ultimate global emporium both in trucks and online. My goal is to build the world of the Styleliner, a place where people can connect with the product and the places and people that create it. I want them to be able to virtually travel to the places where all these beautiful accessories come from.
If someone sees something they like but you’ve already moved on to somewhere new, can they still order from you?
Of course! We are very accessible through email, but we also have an online boutique that is being re-designed as we speak!
Do you ever do styling for events, or do you prefer to focus more on the retail aspects?
Styling comes with the territory. We don’t really have much clothing so its more about how to wear the accessories. I do private appointments and this is really when I am able to get more into detail of how to wear each piece and what kind of clothing to wear it with. I am an accessories girl. I truly believe you can completely change your look with a new necklace, belt, scarf etc. We have also pulled on to sets for magazine shoots, so that stylists can pull from the truck. So yes styling is a big part of it!