Nichole Bartley's foray into fashion started during high school. “I was given the option,” she recalls, “to choose between Clothing and Textiles for CSEC (CXC at the time) and Food and Nutrition, and I chose Clothing and Textiles.” A shrewd decision for the young adult who was so into dressing up that her holiday jobs were at a boutique located in Springs Plaza at the time. A job in sales in her early 20s in a company that sold clothing wholesale further piqued her retail passion, as it was during this time that she realised and developed her ability to offer advice on what to wear and how to put pieces together. This was her 'aha' moment. “ I knew that I could do this on my own,” she shares.
It was no idle boast! Fashion 911 was opened in March of 2006 at 16 Windsor Avenue, Kingston 5. Her husband came up with the name, she explains, “because I was offering my services from home at the time and he would see lots of women call me at odd hours with fashion emergencies. The location was chosen because we were able to see our clients in a comfortable, homely environment.” Bartley's second location at 7th Avenue Plaza was opened days before the first staging of Fashion's Night out in September 2011.
“Fashion is a fickle business but I have stayed in the game because I am a strong believer in amazing customer service, teamwork and offering quality, fashionable clothing at affordable prices.” There's more, however, like the effort made to know most of her clients on a first-name basis, so when they walk through the doors they are greeted with a very warm welcome and her belief in getting quality pieces that fit well and have lasting appeal.
Bartley describes her typical client as “young to middle-aged professionals, who are seeking to fulfil any fashion need they may have at the time, ranging from business meetings, office retreats and banquets. However, we also cater to their recreational needs because we offer from a pin to an anchor in a woman's world. Such items include swimsuits, bras, double-side tape, nipple covers, accessories, jeans and casual tops”.
Keeping abreast of trends and the changing look, feel and demands of today's executive is what will keep most entrepreneurs in business, and Fashion 911 is no exception. “The style of the female executive has changed in the past decade. The transition from monochromatic business suits with shoulder pads to a more relaxed look with colour has transformed the business world to reflect a trendier fashion style for today's professional. Female executives have realised that attire represents their individual personalities and tells the world who they are. So with certain rules still in place (like the appropriate length of skirts and dress, acceptable-fitting pants that are not too tight, and not too much cleavage showing,) women are now wearing separates and more tailored dresses, with pops of colour and accessories that speak to their unique style. Businesses are on board with this trend, as performance statistics now show that more productive work is done in a relaxed, team-driven organisation. Fashion 911 has kept in step with the fashion lifestyle of the 21st century professional woman by offering separate, complementary pieces that include jackets, skirts, pants, dresses and tops with sleeves and without sleeves that can be worn under jackets.”
Bartley has nothing but rave reviews for the five-hour economic stimulus: “ Fashion 911 has been a part of Fashion's Night Out (now Takes Style Out) since its inception and has benefited tremendously. The Jamaica Observer is known for its influence in the fashion industry, and by advertising with them for TSO we continue to gain a huge number of new clients, with each year the figures increasing. These new clients come to us for TSO, love what we offer and many continue to make us their choice for styling. We also use that night as a way of giving back to our existing client base by offering them even better prices for quality, trendy clothing which makes them very happy and eager to remain a part of our family. TSO has now become our biggest sale day of the year, affording us the opportunity to move a vast amount of stock on that day, making us happy!”