I remember the first time I met Emily Bargeron – she has the looks of a super model and the charisma of a rock star. Those two qualities seem to mesh flawlessly with her creative and ambitious disposition while constructing a Savannah fashion empire.
She began her career with a fashion line and store named Mamie Ruth. Mamie Ruth was named for Bargeron’s designer grandmother, who was an early nurturer and cultivator of her creative spirit. Bargeron later opened up East and Up, a vintage store, and now, Starland Strange and Bazaar, her latest project.
Do Savannah: This is store number...what now? What sets each of them apart? What are main differences in each location?
Emily: "Starland Strange is my third store in Savannah. At Mamie Ruth (107 W Liberty St.), we make and design everything in-house. All of the clothing is designed in the back of the store and my business partner, Mary Liz, designs and manufactures all the jewelry in house as well. We love our locals but 90% of our customers are tourists. Mamie Ruth / M.Liz studios & boutique were my first retail location and we have been open for five years. All of my designs for each Mamie Ruth collection have been inspired by vintage pieces I have owned.
"I have always had an intense love for vintage shopping and the intricate details of vintage. I always had a dream of having a vintage store and when the second space on Liberty St. came available, East and Up was born. East and Up focuses on high quality and designer vintage pieces, rock and roll band t-shirts, vintage denim and more. And now, Starland Strange, which is a joint venture with Marguerite Seckman from Fete Chalet and Superbloom. We wanted the space to be a fun and eclectic spot where friends and families can come and grab a snack, meet an artist, do a little shopping and hang out. We will be an evolving space with new concepts, collaborations, and ideas always rotating through to keep it interesting."
Do Savannah: We love the idea of ice cream. Tell us about your ice cream and frozen treats bar.
Emily: "My co-owner, Marguerite Seckman, is the owner of Superbloom and Fete Chalet. She has a special way of creating unique and interesting experiences with food. She can take a basic treat and turn it into the most interesting thing you’ve ever eaten. Our artisan ice cream cones come in flavors like birthday cake and red velvet, and the chocolate-covered bananas wear pink cowboy hats."
Do Savannah: Why Starland?
Emily: "Starland has the Savannah local aspect that we don’t get downtown. We have regulars, and we know their kids, we know what kind of candy they like and their dog’s name. It’s fun to be able to establish relationships with our customers. We want to be a place where locals can have events and showcase their work. We want to listen to our customers and evolve into what the community needs in the area. We want to be a local spot."
Do Savannah: What makes Starland so cool and strange, in your opinion?
Emily: "The people who live here, the businesses that thrive here, the artists that make murals here, the out-of-the-box thinkers that will continue to do cool things here."
Do Savannah: Describe your aesthetic.
Emily: "When asked we jokingly respond, ’we are an eclectic mix of things and stuff.’ But that pretty much nails it. Our aesthetic is all about creating a fun and inviting environment that showcases the uniqueness of the Starland District. We have a mix of eclectic gifts, funky jewelry, Starland-branded merchandise, local art by our in-house artists Maggie B French and JULU, candy, ice cream, snow cones, and more."
Do Savannah: Where do you find the inspiration for the unique Starland graphic tees?
Emily: "We love Starland and get inspiration for the tees from the locals! We want to create fashion forward, non-cheesy, cool apparel that locals are proud to wear. Starland is just a cool name too, so the merch just works."
Do Savannah: Who makes the graphics and tees? Are they local?
Emily: "We love working with local screen-printing companies, designers, etc. We jump on any chance we have to collaborate with locals in the community. I designed a few of our current graphic tees along with a few SCAD artists as well."
Do Savannah: What inspires you?
Emily: "I am inspired by the weirdness of the West: the desolate landscapes, the vibrancy of colors, mining for gold, desert plants, and creepy snakes. I think that is a constant theme throughout our décor and overall aesthetic. The desert is mysterious and intriguing and creates a fun dynamic in the store."
Do Savannah: How are you dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic?
Emily: "This has been tough on everyone, but we have gotten creative by making quarantine kits, having at-home fashion shows, virtual sample sales, selling plants, etc. We are doing what we can to connect with customers virtually. Now that we can be open, we are limiting customers in the shop, we have temporarily discontinued our bulk candy, sanitize and clean after each group of customers, etc."
Do Savannah: Anything you want to add?
Emily: "We also have an Airbnb shopping and styling experience at Starland Strange! You and your friends can come in the shop, sip champagne, play dress up in our vintage collection, and then hit the streets with our in-house photographer for a Starland photoshoot and timeless memories."
Check out Starland Strange and Bazaar located at 17 W 41st St., or shop online at starlandstrangeandbazaar.com.