Twenty-nine: The age when Circles Boutique owner Danelle Jameson wore heels for the first time. For someone so involved in fashion and the inner workings of unique personal style, this may come as a surprise, but this down-to-earth, ambitious woman chooses to be the exception to the style "rules."
For years now, Danelle has owned and managed Circles Boutique, a cutting-edge women's clothing store that has become a staple of Downtown Champaign, where her vision of providing an alternative, versatile, natural version of fashion comes to life. Although her store has faced challenges during the recent recession, she still prides herself on providing Champaign-Urbana with the hottest trends, which she finds through following the careers of emerging designers that haven't yet reached their zenith.
“I go out and search for emerging artists, people who have been designing for someone else, that have just started to launch their own lines," Jameson explains. "I like a well-edited, young artisan look."
Perhaps Jameson's sensible but fresh fashion vision explains why she's been able to contribute to style in C-U for the past 20 years. She started out with small shoe store in Champaign, but when she was given the chance to take over Circles, she didn't hesitate. Her store has been a central source of C-U style ever since.
When asked about the type of clientele she wishes to attract, she told us that her clientele tends to be formed from people who’d rather walk down the street wearing unique, high quality pieces, rather than those who favor mass-produced items from corporate clothing stores. In order to find pieces that inspire this crowd, Danelle says that she loves to travel to exotic locations. In fact, she does a lot of importing, especially since "there is such a diverse, worldly populace in these towns. This is a place that's constantly changing.”
Running Circles Boutique hasn’t always been an easy task for Jameson. For instance, she admits that Circles’ clientele changed when people found that they had less spending money than before, and, in order to adjust to her customers' changing, Danelle found herself having to make some significant changes to her boutique.
“I had to really balance my focus on quality with keeping the clientele that maybe didn’t have that extra income every month," she said. "So I had to find lines that were reasonably priced but still had fantastic quality. That is harder to find than you would think.”
Even through such struggles, Jameson’s business intuition and ambitious approach to management kept her afloat, and living in a town like Champaign has added to her success.
It’s an asset to have this store in Champaign, what with it being a university town. Champaign is an intellectual and diverse community that does a lot to support local businesses. We have a thriving arts community too, and that is huge. That really helps. This community is a springboard for a lot of things.
Even though Jameson could potentially open another store in a more populated area, such as Chicago, she prefers to stay in Champaign. The diverse cultures brought by the U of I from all around the globe opens her store up to a worldly clientele, without the costly effects that moving to a major city would bring.
Her approach to running her business is focused less on the monetary value of her items than the quality they provide. She cares a lot about how her items interrupt typical fashion narratives.
I am a combat boot girl. I like to combine that really rock ‘n roll edge with a nice feminine counterpart. I think you should work with things that are opposites and make them work together. If you’re just a feminine girl and you want to go with just the lace, that’s great. That’s not how I would style it, but I still think that’s fine. I want people to come in with their own ideas… I’m just adding things that could be cool on top of it.