October 2016

Traveling Chic Boutique : It All Began in an Airstream

Author: Kitty Bartell | Photographer: M.Kat Photography

Yellow Snake Skin Off Shoulder Romper, Izzy & Lola $86
Druzy Choker, Mila Rose $69
Wooden Tassel Necklace, Ann Paige $48
Bracelets, Love Poppy $29
Earrings, Ann Paige $32
Interchangeable Sandal, Cambiami $79

When Brody Kenneweg was looking for just the right spot for her new fashion franchise, Traveling Chic Boutique, she knew 1,200 to 1,800 square feet of retail real estate would be perfect. Honing in on Coligny Plaza on Hilton Head Island, the only space available that fit her timetable was a mere 600 square feet. Founded in her hometown of Southern Pines, North Carolina, the franchise’s first “location” was a travel trailer with less square footage than her proposed store. So Kenneweg thought, if that could work, then this can work for me, and she went for it, opening her boutique on Easter weekend in March of 2016.

Kenneweg’s friend and Traveling Chic Boutique founder, Anna Grace, took her first shop, a tweaked-out Airstream travel trailer, to horse shows, selling designer fashions, jewelry, handbags, accessories, and vintage boots—the essence of traveling chic. Building on her success, Grace opened a brick and mortar store in Southern Pines, where Kenneweg found inspiration. “I just loved her concept. My favorite part about Anna’s store was that any time I had a date or a nice dinner, I knew I could go and find something that wouldn’t negatively affect my budget. Without fail, I could find something, and I felt good buying it. I felt I could shop frequently. Before I ever moved to Hilton Head, I had looked into franchising it.”

A relative newcomer to the Lowcountry, Kenneweg met and married islander Courtney Kenneweg in May 2015. “Courtney’s family is partners in the Crazy Crab restaurants. He asked if I would ever consider moving to Hilton Head. Has anyone ever said no to that question?” Relocating with her six-year-old daughter Saylor, Kenneweg, a practicing dental hygienist and former wedding photographer, was looking for more flexibility in her life and an outlet for her creative energy. “We were in Asheville visiting Courtney’s mother and stopped in to the Traveling Chic location there to say hi to Anna. Courtney has such a business-oriented mind, he said, ‘You should open one of these on Hilton Head.’” That was December 2015, and by March 2016, Traveling Chic Boutique Hilton Head was open.

The Traveling Chic approach to buying and their focus on customer service are carefully crafted by Grace, and both aspects of the business appealed to Kenneweg. Rarely carrying the same item more than once, with at least half of all their looks changing on a weekly basis, customers are thrilled to find fresh fashion with every visit.

Bone Leather Jacket, Blank NYC $96, Jeans, Mia & Moss $79, Choker Necklaces, Love Poppy $38, Statement Feather Necklace, Love Poppy $88

Yellow Asymmetrical Dress, Adelyn Rae $98, Beaded Necklace, Mila Rose $69,Bracelet, Love Poppy $44

Animal Print Poncho, Buddy Love $72, Liquid Leather Leggings, Ellison, $66 Necklace, Love Poppy $76

Cream Blouse, Lumiere $43
Statement Necklace, Hands High $95,
Brown Faux Suede Leggings, Mud Pie $58,
Recycled Glass Beaded Bracelet, Boho Gal $34,
Hoop Earrings, Sheila Fajl $72

“I have a few lines that I really love,” Kenneweg said. “I found Adelyn Rae at my first market in February. They are some of the most well-made dresses. I know I can recommend them 100% of the time. And Dizzy Lizzie tunic tops are made by a lady from New York who wears black from head to toe—a total New Yorker—but her prints could not be more beachy-coastal.”

Kenneweg and her Traveling Chic team naturally follow in Grace’s footsteps when it comes to getting to know their customers and providing them with exceptional service. “I just loved her [Grace’s] concept,” Kenneweg said. “She worked in the boutique at the Ritz Carlton and was trained to provide immaculate service, so she set out to open a shop where people could get that level of service.”

How women shop for clothing has been an unexpected, fun surprise for Kenneweg. “I never realized there were multiple ways to shop. I’m a piece person. I may not have anything that goes with this shirt, but I like it, so I buy it. A lot of customers will ask about what goes with a piece.” She has found that when they put an outfit together on display, it sells—the entire outfit, from the fashion to the accessories.

Particularly proud of the shop’s Instagram presence, Kenneweg enjoys sharing her vision, the shop’s fashion sensibilities, and Traveling Chic happenings with her followers. Her team will text customers when particularly perfect items arrive in the store and work to ensure that every purchase is just-right for each individual customer.

“Competition makes you better,” Kenneweg said. “It keeps you on your toes. It makes it a little harder for me, but it’s good for the consumer.” Putting the customer first, she will refer someone to another island boutique if just the right thing can’t be found at her shop, which rarely happens. Several other island boutique owners live in Kenneweg’s neighborhood, where they are building friendships and sharing their entrepreneurial experiences. She feels there’s something special to the affable competition and working together. “I believe there’s something to that; I think this island can handle what’s here. It helps to keep our locals shopping here.”

Kenneweg hopes to join other Traveling Chic Boutique franchisees who own Airstream travel trailer shops, decked-out and on the road at events, shows, and gatherings. “Anna Grace buys them [the trailers] and renovates them too,” she said. Owners have the option of buying a brick and mortar franchise, a trailer franchise, or having both; Kenneweg looks forward to having both one day.

Brody Kenneweg, local owner of Traveling Chic Boutique in Coligny Plaza

Hosting shop-in parties has been a great way to the share the fun of the Traveling Chic brand with their customers, along with benefitting local charities. Customers schedule a shop-in event, invite their friends, and supply their own food and beverage. Everyone gets to have some fun and do some shopping; the hostess can choose to receive 10 percent of the sales from the party back in store credit or have her charity of choice receive 15 percent.

“We had a party last night,” Kenneweg said. “Some people spent $300 and some bought a cute shirt for $23. It doesn’t matter. It was just a great time to get together.”

Traveling Chic also has ongoing charity-related endeavors. If customers forego a bag, the shop donates $1 to one of the charities named on the jars lined up behind their counter—customer’s choice. Some of the local charities benefiting from their efforts are Deep Well, Backpack Buddies, Special Olympics, Hilton Head Heroes, fire fighters, and Noah’s Arks Rescue.

Finding flexibility, her creative niche, and a sense of home and community, Kenneweg is perfecting traveling chic. 

Traveling Chic Boutique is located in Coligny Plaza at 6 Lagoon Road, Unit 3, Hilton Head Island. For more information, please call (843) 295-9003 or visit travelingchicboutique.com.

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