When Kijafa Vick, wife of Philadelphia Eagles superstar quarterback Mike Vick, and her business partner Blair Sandlain first met, it didn’t take long for the two to recognize that they shared mutual appreciation for affordable fashion. Shortly after, the pair would decide to take risks on each other and turn their passion into a business relationship, more specifically the PNKElephant, a clothing and accessories boutique located on the famed South Street in Philadelphia. Three years later, business is definitely booming as the boutique has become the ultimate destination for party girls looking for something trendy, hot and most importantly, affordable to rock for an fly evening out on the town including sequin dresses, sheer guitar style leggings and the very popular PNKElephant’s signature Girls Hustle Harder t-shirt line.
But despite their personal success and overall fun atmosphere, which can only come from a shop plastered in pink and leopard print, both women will readily admit that running a business has not always been easy. Recently I sat down with Vick and Sandlain, who spoke candidly about the learning curve, which comes from being a first time business owner, and what affect being married to one of the most controversial players in the NFL has had on business.
Hopefully I won’t offend you because I mean this as a compliment but I’m walking around the boutique, going through the racks and accessories such as the Trust No B**ch nameplate necklace and I’m like, Oh Yeah, I seen that on Love and Hip Hop and Basketball Wives: LA. So describe for me who you had in mind as a typical PNKElephant customer?
Blair Sandlain: We like to think of ourselves as the ultimate party destination where women can come and get their club outfits, cocktail/after hour outfits. If you are going to the club or going to the lounge, we like to think that when people come to us they are going to have a good time.
Kijafa Vick: And it is funny because when we started out, we started as just an accessory store, we didn’t really want to go into clothes but it was like every girl that came into the store would ask for clothes too. And we’re like, ‘okay we can’t miss out on all this money [laughter]; let’s try it out.‘ And we did. Last April, we started with just a little bit [of clothing] and the response was amazing. So we were like, ‘let’s do it, let’s sell clothes too.’
Do you do your own personal shopping for the boutique?
That sounds like a lot of fun?
Sandlain: A lot of fun? [laughter] It is a job.
Vick: No lunch breaks [more laughter]
No lunch breaks? Well how many hours do you spend in the shop?
Vick: She lives here [pointing to Sandlain]
Sandlain: Yeah, I do like 12-hour days. You know, she has a whole family, a whole situation; husband, kids, house…so I just have her on the phone with me most times –
Vick: All day long…
Sandlain: And we’ll go over numbers, everyday, every week and you know, we’ll recap. I’m in the store a lot but she is still involved. She knows the day-to-day happenings and what is going on. She knows how much money we make [laughter].
So how did PNKElephant come about?
Sandlain: Actually, I was selling jewelry out of my house. And my friend was staying with me. He is a fashion designer and Kijafa found him on Facebook. She would come up to get her clothes custom-made by him because he is a great designer. And he would always show her my accessories and I would be at work because at the time I had a full time job; I used to work for Footlocker’s Corporation office. And so, she asked him if [I was] looking for a partner because I want to get into the business. And I met her and we just kind of clicked from there.
So from concept to implementation, how long did it take to get PNKElephant up and running?
Vick: A little less than a year. When I met her and we were doing business. I just kept riding by [the location] and was like, it’s a store here. I’m going to call and see how much it is. I called and it wasn’t outrageous. And I was like, come on, let’s do this. She was a little nervous because she was working but she was finally like, alright I’m going to do it. And we opened up. I think that was like March we found a building. And we opened up June 1st .