A decade of real spunk and sass

Stephanie Jackson vamps for the mirror at Noir et Blanc. - DOUGLAS CRIST/Staff Photo
Stephanie Jackson vamps for the mirror at Noir et Blanc.
— image credit: DOUGLAS CRIST/Staff Photo

Stephanie Jackson’s boutiques are stylin’.

“Life is serious, so have fun with your clothes.”

That philosophy has guided clothier Stephanie Jackson in life and in business, as she enters her 10th year as the owner of the whimsical Winslow clothing and jewelry boutique, Blinx.

“I love what I do and I want to be here another 10 years,” said Jackson, who bought the shop as a single woman in her late 20s, and will celebrate a decade in business with champagne for customers May 29-30.

Jackson has a way of blending classics and accessories with spunk and sass, and Blinx features the unusual and colorful, with a nod to comfort and playfulness. There are jeans and T-shirts, bright skirts and printed tops, rhinestones and polka dots, sunglasses, purses and flip flops.

Her clientele at the shop ranges from teens who come in to get their ears pierced, to the “young at heart” in their 60s, including her own mother.

Blinx has a loyal following, which Jackson has nurtured over the years. She keeps individual customers in mind when she goes on buying trips and then phones them when the merchandise arrives.

“Love it,” said Linda Stranahan, a customer who has been shopping the eclectic yet affordable collection at Blinx for 10 years. “Stephanie always calls me when stuff has come in that she knows I’ll like. I feel known here. She makes it fun to shop.”

As Stranahan thumbed through the racks of bright clothing – corals, oranges and yellows are the dominant colors for spring – Jackson was busy rounding up select items in her size. All the while, the pair chatted about what was new in their lives.

Keeping it personal is important to Jackson, who buys in small quantities so that customers won’t bump into friends wearing the same outfit.

“I have people say, ‘I’m buying this for the Wilkes auction – don’t let anyone else buy one just like it,” she laughed, saying she strives to oblige.

It is, after all, a small community. So small, in fact, that many customers have become long-time friends who have helped her celebrate life’s milestones.

“They have come to my wedding shower, to my wedding and to my baby shower,” said Jackson, whose husband Jeff Jackson is a loan officer at CFA Northwest Mortgage Professionals. The couple’s daughter Bella is 3.

Born in Yakima and raised in Tacoma, Jackson attended the University of Washington and worked as a sales rep in the fashion industry for several years. She moved to the island in 1994, went to work at Blinx, and bought the store in 1995.

Two years ago she opened a second boutique on the street side of the mall, Noir et Blanc, which features a palette of black and white – ranging from jeans and T-shirts, to classics, to sexy evening wear – and accent items in a seasonal accent color.

This season’s accent is turquoise, which is mimicked by the paper lanterns of that hue that hang in the shop’s window.

The stores reflect two sides of Jackson’s own fashion personality: There’s the sunny “flip flop and tenny” girl in colorful prints who shops at Blinx, and the girl who loves black and white basics and getting dressy for a night on the town.

“We women wear black and white constantly,” she said, noting that the color black no longer imparts a serious mood. Especially not in her store, with its pink walls and off-beat accessories, like the rhinestone encrusted sash paired with black jeans. There’s plenty of lace and sheer items, too.

What’s neat about having a shop downtown, she said, is that it’s a real community. There are several other women’s boutiques downtown, and Jackson praised them all for serving customers in different ways and with different styles.

She never hesitates to refer a customers to the other shops if she can’t help them, believing that it’s critically important to keep it local.

“It’s wonderful to be part of this community, and it helps us all to have such great variety downtown,” she said. “We all offer a unique package. We can all help each other.”

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