Fashion For All
Sourcing accessible, fashionable clothing
Growing up a short train ride from NYC, SAMANTHA BALZANO was always interested in fashion. “I took bags of my clothes and sewed them in different ways to make new clothing,” she says. When choosing a college to attend and a degree to major in, Balzano says, “It seemed like it was hard to make a living in fashion, unless you were in a high-level position.” So, she attended James Madison University, studied criminal justice, and planned to become a prosecutor.
After graduation, Balzano worked in restaurants and retail. Managing a small family-run boutique in Virginia changed her trajectory. There, she learned about retail purchasing. “I fell even more in love with the industry and began looking for a way to make it my own,” she says.
Balzano moved to Wilmington two years ago and in August 2021 launched Hues of Violet. “I wanted it to be a slow growth,” she says. Her business was fully online solely focused on accessories. Balzano worked craft markets around town and business grew through social media. Soon she was selling more at the markets than online.
“It clicked that I needed to be in front of customers,” Balzano says. She began looking for retail spaces and introduced clothing to Hues of Violet in January 2022. That May, she opened a brick-and-mortar location at the corner of South Second and Market streets in downtown Wilmington.
From the beginning, Balzano has prioritized people over profit. “My goal is to build relationships,” she says. “I want Hues of Violet to feel like you’re shopping with your best friend. It’s been years since I lived near my best friends, and I know it can be hard to shop by yourself. Sometimes you need opinions,” she says with a laugh. “I want you to find what’s right for you.”
Balzano’s clothing and accessories are fashionable, practical, and at the right price point.
“I have maybe one item in the shop over $60,” she says. She hand-picks items that aren’t too trendy. “I don’t buy into trends that are going to be out of your closet as fast as you put them in your closet. Clothing should have longevity,” she says. Balzano buys through a wholesale marketplace where she can search for ethically sourced products made by independent brands.
“I purchase smaller quantities to ensure minimal surplus at the end of each season. I don’t want excess stock to wind up in the landfill,” she says.
As she approaches the one-year anniversary of opening her retail location on May 13, Balzano has her sights set on increasing her social media followers, expanding to a larger location, and helping other female small business owners.
“My short-term goal is to hit 4,000 Instagram followers. I don’t take the power of social media lightly,” she says. Balzano filled her current 400-square-foot shop and will need more space to grow. “I’d like to buy a building downtown where I can run a retail location on the first level and provide rentals and office space above it.” Balzano enjoys networking with her peers and wants to build community among small businesses. On April 15, she is hosting a “Self-Love Summit,” an empowerment event designed to help women business owners build their confidence and networks.
“I want to help spread the love and positivity that I feel towards fellow business owners,” Balzano says. “We can all succeed together.”
To view more of photographer Aris Harding’s work, go to arisharding.com.
Want more WILMA? Click here to sign up for our WILMA newsletters and announcements.