It’s no wonder Bridgehampton boutique Blue One has a legion of devoted customers. The owners, Crystal and Jarret Willis, have created a lifestyle brand and are bonafide chicsters themselves. The couple tell THE DAILY how they kept things going during the lockdown, what brands you should be looking out for, and how they’re making it easier than ever to get one-on-one service this summer.
What was the concept when you first opened?
Crystal Willis: We started in 2007. I can’t believe how time flies. That’s insane! We wanted to do a men’s and women’s boutique. At that point, there weren’t really many men’s and women’s boutiques here. We weren’t married yet, but we were getting engaged. It was just the two of us, and we wanted to create a lifestyle thing where people could not only shop, which is great, but we could also give them advice on where to go, what to do, where to eat in the Hamptons. I grew up here, and Jarret had been coming to visit me for a while. We wanted a boutique where you could not just shop, but it was a lifestyle boutique. We wanted people to feel comfortable to come in.
Jarret Willis: It evolved, month by month and year by year. It almost feels that especially with our Bridgehampton location that people are coming into our home! They are super comfortable. We don’t just talk fashion, we talk everything. We try to avoid politics! We get to know the way people live. That helps us do our job better.
Why did you decide to make this a year-round business?
Jarret: I’m also in real estate, and the reason we choose to be open year-round is because when people invest a certain amount of money in their homes, we found they use them year-round. Except February! February is awful, except for St. Barth’s. People are here, and they want to get out of the city to use their homes. We figure, “Why not be open?” It’s not like we get a break on the rent in the winter. We’re here!
Why is it called Blue One?
Crystal: It’s my middle name and now our son’s middle name. He’s Jacobi Blue. I’m Crystal Blue.
How did you two first meet?
Crystal: I was a junior in college. I played volleyball upstate, and he was visiting his parents. We met at a bar!
The good old-fashioned way!
Jarret: Remember when things used to be like that?
Crystal: It’s not like that anymore!
Let’s talk about shopblueone.com. It looks like you’re selling a lot online.
Jarret: It has been our only revenue.
Crystal: The sales have tripled during COVID-19. Our clients who shop with us go on our Instagram and see what we’re wearing and reach out to us personally. At the time, they couldn’t go into the store, so they had to shop with us online. We were seeing a big influx. Thank God! It wasn’t our biggest mainstream of business. It was really people wanting to come into the store and shop with us to get that personal touch. Thank goodness we had been working on our website and put up a lot of product. We were doing drop-offs immediately. Online has been forcing people to find us. We’re getting sales from all over the country.
How did you get through these past few months?
Jarret: We opened in 2007 and shortly after, the world fell apart. Our mentality, the thing that we found out pretty early, we don’t look around, we look forward. Closing was never an option. We understand a lot of people have lost their businesses. We get that and feel terrible. We’re so hyper motivated to succeed. It wasn’t an option.
Crystal: We didn’t sit back. You see people who just closed up. We were like, “No way!” We reached out to our clients individually. We let them know we were thinking of them and we were here if they needed anything. We have a good following.
Jarret: We have great relationships. It was touching to see the people who we cater to wanted us to succeed.
What brands do you carry in Blue One?
Jarret: With men’s, we do really well with a German brand, Closed. We do well with a lot of our Italian and French designers, such as Mason’s, our bathing suits from Hartford do really well. Onia is fabulous. We partner with them on men’s and women’s. We’re fans of the owners. We love them. They’ve supported us. Because we’ve been in the business so long, we had to figure out a way to work together with the designers during COVID-19, so they could survive and we could survive. We really strengthened those relationships.
Crystal: It’s probably going to be the way it goes. Things are going to change. I don’t know if it’s just going to be us writing orders. It’s going to be us forming partnerships together to help each other. As for women’s brands, we have Ulla Johnson, who does really well. We have a line from Paris called Rose Carmine. It’s gorgeous. We work with a lot of small and independent designers. That’s kind of how we started the business. We didn’t carry what the department stores were carrying. It was hard at first, but now we can bring in small independent designers and people don’t question it. They know if we’ve curated it, it’s good.
Any new designers on the shelves this summer that you’re excited about?
Jarret: A brand from Italy called Nº21. I hope they ship!
Crystal: All the factories have shut down, so we didn’t get in even half of our product that we had ordered.
How is the curbside business working?
Jarret: What we’re doing is setting up appointments with people. We’ll shut down the store and give people an hour or half-hour time slots. That’s safer. We get to give every appointment our full attention. That’s been beneficial and maybe a way we work going forward.
Crystal: We also have a big front lawn that we’re going to start using more. If people don’t feel comfortable coming into the store, they can always shop outside. We can also bring product outside to people.
What are you doing to make your customers feel safe while shopping inside?
Jarret: I was COVID mentality prior to COVID! Everyone must wear a mask, there’s hand sanitizer everywhere, we wear gloves when clients are in the store. We have gloves for people to take. I encourage it. I love it. We’re super clean!
Crystal: If people try on something, we steam every piece before we put it back out on the floor.
We noticed you’re also selling masks.
Jarret: We designed them right away. We had them made here. They’ve been great. They’re comfortable and come with N95 filters.
Crystal: They’re machine-washable, which is nice. A lot of the masks are uncomfortable or hard to breath in. These are not.
Jarret, we hear you were a model back in the day.
Crystal: He modeled for Ford.
Jarret: I did Armani. I walked shows and then I got into acting. I was on One Life to Live as Dr. Jordan Kingsley. [Laughs] So ridiculous.
And you said you work in real estate, too.
Jarret: I’m working with Bespoke Real Estate, which was founded by our friends Cody and Zach Vichinsky. We’re in Water Mill and focus on $10 million and above properties. I’ve been doing it for five years.
Crystal: You can buy clothing and a house!
Do you want to open more stores?
Jarret: No. We’re going to go more into design. We’ve sprinkled in a little bit of our design. We’re going to explore that more.
Crystal: We’re also loving the collaborations. We collaborated with an L.A. brand Kinetix on the softest tie-dye hoodies for men and women, and with Jen Hansen Jewelry on a special piece.
Follow them on Instagram!