Ellie Circhansky spent her high-school weekends digging. Sifting through mounds of clothing at thrift stores, she stretched her $20 allowance to its bare bones, salvaging the simplistic designer pieces others tossed form their closets and welcoming them into her own.
Now, Circhansky puts her frugality to good use in a different way--hunting down bargains online and selling them on her website, HwoodStyle.com, which offers celebrity- and designer-inspired fashion for an affordable price, all less than $80.
Not everyone has a knack for unearthing fashionable pieces and spotting their potential, but you could say it runs in Circhansky’s blood.
Her mother worked in retail for 40 years with positions such as Kris Kardashian’s personal stylist (pre-TV show) as well one of the founders of the first Nordstrom on Rodeo Drive.
“She’s passed it on to me,” Circhansky said. “I’d look through her closet and would find vintage pieces from the ‘70s and ‘80s and bring them back by incorporating them into today’s style.”
Flash forward to a second-year fashion merchandising major at Santa Fe College, and Circhansky is making her own high-heeled footsteps in the industry—far from her mother’s fashion hangers. Implementing her talent for formulating fashion at a skinny price, Circhansky has become an entrepreneur at age 19.
“A lot of people don’t think you can look nice in a $30 outfit,” Circhansky said. “But style doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Forever 21 and H &M are trendy, but they aren’t celebrity inspired pieces.” Circhansky researches celebrity paparazzi pictures and then buys similar pieces on a wholesale website to then sell on HwoodStyle.com. She built up her savings from working at Saks Fifth Avenue in her hometown of Boca Raton to invest into bringing her creation to life.
What distinguishes HwoodStyle from other sites that offer celebrity looks for less is that Circhansky’s site offers everything in one place.
In other words, it’s not an exhausting hunt for the fashion find. Everything’s right there in front of you, no work required except for a simple click.
“It’s a one-stop shop,” Circhansky said.
T-shirts are priced around $20, sweaters around $30, outerwear around $30, and bags around $80. In the fall items currently available on HwoodStyle, shoppers can expect to see what Circhansky describes as “street chic” featuring vintage plaid, embellished tunics and leather jackets. Pieces are accompanied with a snapshot of a model or celebrity that’s sporting the look such as Miley Cyrus, Mary-Kate Olsen and Nicole Richie.
However, in some of the photos on HwoodStyle, shoppers can expect to see a familiar face.
Circhansky was so eager to launch her site that she didn’t want to spend the time casting models.
She decided to just get it all done quickly by modeling the looks herself in a “paparazzi” inspired style in photos taken in downtown Gainesville.
“Being in Gainesville was an inspiration in itself,” Circhansky said. “I wanted HwoodStyle to be a place for people to go that offered more options [for fashion].”
Gaining hits from out of state as well as in, Circhansky remains hopeful for the future of HwoodStyle, looking to do fashion shows and establish boutiques nationally, pinned with the HwoodStyle name.
Editor's note on 9/30/2010: The original article implied that the clothing sold at Hwoodstyle.com is purchased from thrift stores. The items are purchased new.