Sunday, June 17, 2018
News Roundup

Twin fashionistas offer designer clothes at consignment prices in Wesley Chapel

WESLEY CHAPEL

Like many 16-year-old girls, Amber and Allie Malott crave designer clothes. Only not for the labels. For these identical twins, it's the whimsical buttons on a blouse, the pleats that make the back of a white blouse just as interesting as it is in the front, the high heels that actually smell like perfume. ¶ "It's that something extra that makes it special," said Allie, who with her sister hopes to become a fashion designer someday. She holds up a blouse that appears to be plaid. A closer look reveals small fish sprinkled into the print.

The girls, who both sport Chanel eyeglass frames, write their own fashion blog and keep little black books that hold sketches they hope to turn into real clothes and sell out of their own store someday.

For now, they're getting started with A & A Boutique, a consignment store that opened last week specializing in high-end designer clothes, shoes and accessories. Think Prada. Chanel. Versace. Burberry. Salvatore Ferragamo. Louis Vuitton.

"I really love Ann Taylor pants because they fit me just right," confessed their mother and store co-owner, Lori Malott. "But we can't sell them in the store."

The girls, who attended Quail Hollow Elementary when they were little but are now homeschooled, have been into fashion since they were old enough to dress themselves, their mother said. They would buy Barbies, only to cut their hair and put them in homemade clothes.

"They didn't want what was in the store," Lori recalled.

When International Plaza opened, they practically lived there, saving all their money for unique items.

A meeting there in September with Tim Gunn, fashion designer and mentor on the television show Project Runway, inspired the teens to open the store.

"He told us to study the business and marketing first," said Amber.

The girls' father, Michael, a machinist and owner of Axiom Automation in Zephyrhills, encouraged them to open the boutique after his business had an especially good year. He even built metal shelving for them that includes the A & A logo in the legs.

They leased a space at a strip mall at 2653 Bruce B. Downs Blvd., next to Dickey's Barbecue Pit in the Shoppes of Wesley Chapel.

To get starting inventory, they bought some items from consignment stores in other places. They also have been accepting items from sellers by appointment.

While Lori said she oversees the accounts and "boring stuff," her daughters inspect the clothes, price them and create window displays. Price tags are applied with a safety pin through the clothing tags so as not to damage fabrics.

Don't bother to sneak in fakes. The girls said they know how to spot counterfeits, though they don't divulge specifics. Prices depend on an item's condition and rarity but generally run about 50 to 75 percent less than retail.

"I'm so thrilled for them," said Lynda Levitt, an image consultant who worked as a brand ambassador for Chanel at Saks in Tampa, where the twins held their 15th birthday party.

She recalled how they would visit and ask questions.

"They would come in and show me their designs," she said. "They would spend hours drawing them. They were just amazing."

She recalled how Allie once designed and sewed a pair of pants with different scraps of fabric and created a matching bag.

"They really are awed by the artistry," she said. "It wasn't about owning a Chanel bag. It was their knowledge about what (designer) Karl Lagerfeld did for the Chanel line. They get that Coco Chanel was the mother of this and how Karl Lagerfeld has taken that brand and with artistry created something new."

Today the twins are never without their little black books, which contain design sketches or ideas. They also maintain a fashion blog and can be found on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. They work as a team but have different styles. Amber is more classic, while Allie describes herself as "whimsical."

The twins kicked off their store opening last week with giveaways, live music, wine and hors d'oeuvres.

They hope to become a mecca for fashionistas who don't want to have to drive so far south for high-end goods.

"We want to be a spot for girls' nights," said Allie.

Comments
FBI agent removed from Russia probe for anti-Trump texts says heís willing to testify before Congress

FBI agent removed from Russia probe for anti-Trump texts says heís willing to testify before Congress

The FBI agent who was removed from the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election for sending anti-Trump texts intends to testify before the House Judiciary Committee and any other congressional committee that asks, his attorney sai...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Erosion of immigrant protections began with Trump inaugural

Erosion of immigrant protections began with Trump inaugural

The Trump administrationís move to separate immigrant parents from their children on the U.S.-Mexico border has grabbed attention around the world, drawn scorn from human-rights organizations and overtaken the immigration debate in Congress.Itís also...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Motorcyclist and pedestrian die in Pasco crash

Motorcyclist and pedestrian die in Pasco crash

NEW PORT RICHEY ó A motorcyclist and pedestrian both died in a crash Saturday night near Palmetto Road and U.S. 19, police reported.About 10:30 p.m., a St. Petersburg man, 41, was riding a 2012 Honda motorcycle north on the highway, according to the ...
Updated: 7 hours ago
For starters: Rays at Yankees, looking to avoid a four-game sweep

For starters: Rays at Yankees, looking to avoid a four-game sweep

UPDATE, 11:37: Interesting decision by the Rays to move Adames to 2B today and reinstall Hechavarria at SS as he came off DL following Arroyo injury.Here is the Rays lineup:Duffy 3bBauers 1bRamos cCron dhAdames 2bHechavarria ssGomez rfRefsnyder lfFie...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Chicago soldier killed in Korea finally being laid to rest

Chicago soldier killed in Korea finally being laid to rest

CHICAGO — Not long after her father went missing during the Korean War, Carol Elkin spotted then-Gen. Dwight Eisenhower in downtown Chicago and did what any kid might do when coming face to face with the nation’s most famous soldier: She ...
Updated: 8 hours ago
1 dead, 20 injured in New Jersey arts festival shooting

1 dead, 20 injured in New Jersey arts festival shooting

TRENTON, N.J ó Shooting broke out at an all-night art festival in Trenton, New Jersey, early Sunday, sending people stampeding from the scene and leaving one suspect dead and 20 people injured, a local prosecutor said. Many of the 20 injured were tre...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Peering into the crystal baseball to see what Rays could look like in 2019

Peering into the crystal baseball to see what Rays could look like in 2019

The Rays are still talking, as they should, about playing for something this season. The reality is that almost every move they've made, going back to the end of last season, and in some cases further, has been about 2019 and beyond.Clearing out vete...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Rays lose again to Yankees, this time 4-1

Rays lose again to Yankees, this time 4-1

NEW YORK — Kevin Cash was not going to go all Lou Piniella on his Rays, raging and ripping and roaring over their latest mess, a 4-1 Saturday loss to the Yankees that didn't feel that close.Which is too bad because Piniella, the volcanic former...
Published: 06/16/18

Lottery resultsNumbers drawn after 9 p.m. are no longer available by our deadlines. For results, please go to tampabay.com/lottery.Pick 2, 3, 4, 5Sun., June 17, midday:xx xxx xxxxe_SRitxxxxxSun., June 17, evening:xx xxx xxxxe_SRitxxxxxFantasy 5Sunday...
Published: 06/16/18
Hurricane Maria family resettles in Riverview, only to be left homeless by lightning strike

Hurricane Maria family resettles in Riverview, only to be left homeless by lightning strike

RIVERVIEW — It was the most routine of errands, shopping for a cooler and some shorts. Joel Jaca and Arelys Gomez, both 40, had turned an important corner, miles away from hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico. They had finally gotten out of their re...
Published: 06/16/18