October 2019

So Sandra: Feel the love

Author: Linda S. Hopkins | Photographer: M.Kat Photography

Sandra Ossie and Sir Winston pose for a quick snap at her boutique for women in Park Plaza, So Sandra.

Have you ever wished you had a personal stylist—someone who could help you achieve that put-together look you admire but can never seem to pull off on your own? Maybe you’re a confident shopper but simply don’t have time to run all over town searching for the specific items you wish to add to your wardrobe. Or perhaps you’re not feeling 100 percent confident in your body these days and could use help finding what flatters your figure. Whatever your fashion needs, Sandra Ossie and her team at So Sandra are your angels in waiting.

What sets this boutique apart is the personalized shopping experience and notable culture of caring. It’s easy to see that Ossie is attentive and genuinely interested in knowing her customers. “It’s not a forced thing. It’s just my nature,” she said in her sweet Southern drawl.

No sooner had these words been uttered when the bell on the door jingled and Heidi Perez walked in. A 17-year local resident, busy mother of two, and devoted So Sandra shopper, she pops in regularly to see what’s new, chat with Ossie, and visit with Winston, Ossie’s Pomapoo, the store’s mascot. Perez often brings her children and her two dogs along, but today she is alone, on a mission to try on the new embroidered leggings that just arrived at So Sandra.

“[Sandra] has some very unique, fun things that I can wear all the time. She also helps me put together complete outfits,” Perez said as she slipped into the dressing room. “I like to have everything matching.”

“Some ladies call us mannequin shopping, because I have things so well merchandised. We make sure to present head-to-toe looks. And if we don’t have the right jewelry or accessories for a special occasion, I’ll take a picture of the outfit and call one of my jewelry vendors to make it,” Ossie said.

Next came Lois Hoyt-Berry, another local resident who has traveled the world but always makes her way back to So Sandra for something unique to wear. Just returning from a trip to Albuquerque, she and Ossie had a personal conversation before she began perusing the new styles that arrived since her last visit. Singing Ossie’s praises, Hoyt-Berry said, “She knows how to choose clothes that most of the people here on Hilton Head would like to wear. She has great pricing and really nice clothes that you don’t find everywhere else.”

Over the course of the next hour, every customer who walked in was treated to the same friendly, personal service—like a cross between Cheers and a sorority sister reunion. “This is the privilege I have—knowing people like this,” Ossie said of her customers.

But for all the warm fuzziness of the shopping experience, don’t think for a minute that Ossie doesn’t know her business. When it comes to the fashion world, she’s done it all. After studying fashion merchandising at Georgia Southern University, she set out to build on her education and truly serve women in a practical but important way.

“I’ve been dressing ladies for over 35 years, and I’ve been in every aspect of it from the retail sales end to buying for a large chain of stores,” Ossie said. She has also run a showroom at the market for a wholesale company and managed several well-known national chain stores.

With a natural eye for style and the passion to make a difference, she enjoys the challenges and rewards of business ownership and putting her personal touch on the boutique. She has established close relationships with her vendors, many of whom she has known for over 30 years. She also enjoys working with local artists and artisans who provide unique jewelry and one-of-a-kind handmade gifts (paintings, shell décor, sea glass, etc.). Keep your eyes open for angels and dragonflies in the décor and giftware—spiritual symbols that reflect Ossie’s beliefs, values and world vision.

Ossie helps local ladies as well as vacationers dress effortlessly, taking pride in the quality of her merchandise and the affordability that brings customers back for regular wardrobe updates. She does most of her shopping for the store in Dallas and at the Trendz show in West Palm Beach, Florida. “It’s more geared towards our climate and makes our store special and different,” she said. At market, she goes for body shapes and what’s appropriate for women here, catering to an elegant lady with a practical lifestyle.

As merchandise comes in, Ossie and her sales associates spend time in the dressing room. “We start trying things on so we know how they fit. That way, when a customer walks in the door, we can guide her to the styles that are most likely to fit her well and look good on her. You’ve gotta know your merchandise, and you’ve gotta know the fit,” she said.

Ossie also keeps a running list of items her customers need or are looking for. When those pieces come in, she’s on the phone, calling or texting, sending pictures or whatever is necessary to help that customer get what she wants and buy with confidence. And when the husbands come calling for help at Christmastime, she nails it. “Rarely ever does an item come back,” she said.

Ossie is also known for staging area fashion shows to benefit various non-profits. This past year, So Sandra has helped raise money for Volunteers in Medicine (VIM), National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Holy Family Catholic Church, All Saints Episcopal Church, and the Moss Creek Women’s Association’s fundraiser on behalf of battered women and children, among other charitable organizations.

“I love what I do. I love the people. I love the creativity. I have customers tell me it’s obvious,” Ossie said. “They say, ‘You’re good at it, you’re fun, and you’re never pushy.’”

“Nobody does what Sandra does. It’s so personal,” sales associate Karen Paradise added. “She goes above and beyond.”

Whether you need a lightweight sweater or shawl to cover your arms, a sparkly top for the upcoming holidays, a denim update, jewelry, shoes or a hat to complete an outfit, a gift for a friend, or a seasonal wardrobe makeover, Ossie and her team are eager to help—but they promise not to rush or pressure you. And if you simply want to poke around, have a relaxing conversation, and make some new friends, stop in So Sandra. You’re sure to feel the love.

So Sandra is located in Park Plaza shopping center, 33 Office Park Rd., # 222, on Hilton Head Island. For more information, visit www.sosandra.net or call (843) 686-4900.

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