The business and personal lives of Blue One boutique co-owners Crystal Smith Willis and Jarret Willis are closely tied. So it comes as no surprise that as their family is growing, so is their business. As Crystal and Jarret — who is also a major player at Bespoke Real Estate — await the arrival of their first child, the duo reflect on how their story has built them a loyal following of friends and shoppers.
Were you ever worried about mixing business with your personal lives?
Jarret Willis: To be honest, that was the easy part. We got engaged a year and a half into having the store. It was a natural progression; there was no pressure.
Crystal Smith Willis: We’re a real team. Once we opened the store and people really gravitated toward us, we realized that not only do people like our fashion sense, but they love our story. So we went off on that before all the social media really hit the roof. Fast-forward 13 years in business, and our clients have really grown with us. Seeing us get engaged, seeing us get married, seeing us doing pop-ups and trunk shows… the story has really evolved. People have followed us the whole way and really feel part of it. That’s what makes us a force to be reckoned with.
How do you explain your success?
Crystal: Jarret and I have built a strong and powerful business that has caught the eyes of many customers, and with that, a loyal following has developed. Both our clients and followers look to us every season to bring them fresh new styles. They rely on us to provide an accessible interpretation of what’s trending on the runways worldwide. By following us on Instagram, our audience gets an inside and instant look at our livelihood and how we navigate through the Hamptons socially.
When did you first realize that people were interested in your story?
Jarret: Crystal was born and raised in the Hamptons. She had worked in a shoe store across the street from our first store, and she had such a loyal following already.
Crystal: People were coming to me with all their fashion questions. “Where did you get this?” That made me think that maybe I could actually do this on my own.
You’ve been together for so long!
Crystal: We met 19 years ago, and we’ve been married for 10. Now we’re expecting our first baby!
Would you encourage your child to go into the fashion industry?
Jarret: I would encourage our kid to do anything that’s going to make our kid happy.
Crystal: To follow his dreams! But he’s going to be around the fashion industry. I didn’t grow up surrounded by fashion, but I just loved it.
Do you think being parents will inspire you to start carrying kids’ clothes?
Crystal: Yes. People have been asking us for years. It never made sense to us, and we had no real knowledge of it, as it wasn’t part of our lifestyle. Next year, we will launch some really cool collaborations with kids’ stuff. As I’m shopping for our little guy, I haven’t been able to find certain stuff.
How would you describe the boutique’s aesthetic? What do you gravitate toward?
Jarret: Pretty much the opposite of what you see in department stores. Our brand and business model is the anti-department-store experience. We create real relationships. We curate brands that speak to us and speak to our personalities and style. Our whole business is really relationship-driven.
Crystal: Because we are so involved with clients and we know their lifestyle, we really can create a story when we are buying for our clients.
What are some of the longest customer relationships you’ve had?
Jarret: We have several that span 13 years. They are extensions of our family. There are several families that have really seen us evolve.
Crystal: They came directly through the store. We stayed in contact with them, we dine with them, we vacation with them — [the relationship] really goes deep.
How do you translate that personal relationship to the online version of your boutique?
Crystal: Instagram really pushes a lot of sales. People are following us to know what’s going on in the Hamptons. They can buy off of Instagram or they can message us and we know who is reaching out to us. We can tell them the size that will fit them. We send boxes to clients constantly. We put together a huge box.
Jarret: We were a trunk club before trunk clubs were even a thing.
Crystal: We are in a seasonal location and you have to keep the business going throughout the year. The way to do that is sending personal boxes to our clients on consignment. We know their sizes and style, and then they send back whatever they don’t want. We’ve been doing that for years.
How often are pieces returned?
Jarret: Probably less than 10 percent. That speaks to how well we know them and what they do in their everyday lives, whether it’s during the week at home or one of their vacation homes, or traveling in Europe. Because of that relationship, we have a low return rate.
What is special about being a retailer in the Hamptons?
Crystal: It has been our niche. These people are loyal customers of ours. It’s not just tourists coming in. You do get that, obviously. But for the most part, these are people shopping with us since we have been open.
What makes your boutique so unique?
Jarret: There are so many pop-ups [in the Hamptons]. And if they’re not a pop-up, they’ll close for the winter. We are open all year round. We service our clients 365 days a year. That is really what’s different about us.
Tell us about the rest of the scene in your area! What are your favorite things to do?
Jarret: We live close to the store. Socially in the summer, things are changing a little bit more now because Crystal’s pregnant, but typically we spend a lot of time out at restaurants. Whether it’s on Shelter Island, or on Vine Street or Sunset Beach.
Crystal: Sag Harbor is so close and it’s nice to be on the water, so we frequent those restaurants. We pop all over really. We try to support each town and their different businesses. We post it all on our Instagram. People will reach out to us and ask, “How is the new restaurant that just opened? What would you suggest to eat?” It’s cool.
Who do you follow on Instagram?
Crystal: A lot of clients and friends, because it’s important for us to see and know what they’re up to. And of course, bigger fashion houses. We’re buying so far in advance, so we’re really seeing a lot of the trends before they happen, which is cool.
What trends should we be gearing up for this fall?
Crystal: Jarret and I handpick everything we buy for the store, and we buy specifically with clients in mind. For fall, we’re seeing a mix of the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s. We are seeing blazers — one of my personal favorite wardrobe staples — cinched with a belt. We made sure to offer a wide range of incredible belts this season to get you started. We bought some great capes for fall too, a trend we were seeing in almost every designer’s lookbook. The color that stood out this season is purple. Everyone has also been asking us about the one-shoulder trend — it’s all about the asymmetrical neckline!
Read the complete new issue of The Daily Summer below.