Proprietor: Scott Wable on What’s in the Jean Pool



For denim-loving Baltimoreans – both men and women – Jean Pool has been a must-shop boutique since its opening in 2006. Owners Scott Wable and Josh Dunkin adopted the slogan “West Coast Meets East Coast” to explain their casual-cool aesthetic that includes a wide variety of well-known denim brands, plus accessories and clothing that pairs well with jeans.

Here, Wable shares a bit about the history of the store, great gifts for denim-lovers and what’s hot right now:


How did you get involved with Jean Pool?

I’ve been in the garment industry since I can remember – from running Tommy Hilfiger stores to Old Navy and doing visuals at Nordstrom. I opened Jean Pool in 2006, when I realized the Baltimore girl needed a denim store to fit into everyday life with great tops and accessories. I also carry men’s denim.


What is your favorite item in the store right now?

It’s hard to say – I like everything that I buy! Denim is still my “thing,” though.


What is your go-to recommendation for holiday gift?

I love the the Hanky Panky gift sets ($55 for a set of three) and Cartier “knock-off” bangles ($34). Hermes-inspired handbags ($499) that are made in Italy are also a great way to accessorize your jeans.


What style icon or celebrity could you imagine shopping at Jean Pool?

Jennifer Aniston – she looks good in jeans and tees and she’s built like most of my customers. Easy and effortless, she always looks amazing.


What’s new and exciting at Jean Pool? Any great trends for fall/winter?

Black, white and gray seem to be the favorite colors this season. There’s a lot to choose from!


Jean Pool is located at  92 Village Square in the Village of Cross Keys in Baltimore. For more information, visit their Facebook page.


Proprietor: Eye to Eye with Brad Bowers of Bowers & Snyder Opticians


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Bowers & Snyder has been a constant fixture on the Baltimore eye care and eyewear scene since its opening in 1947. Today, Brad Bowers, the son of the company’s founder, works with a team of opticians and eye care specialists at four stores throughout the region, including one in Cross Keys, which opened in 1990.

Here, Bowers discusses what he likes most about his job, good (and useful!) holiday gift recommendations and which celebrities have hit Bowers & Snyder for a bit of eyewear help:

How did you get into the optician business?

I’m second generation – a Bowers. My dad started the company in 1947. I started working with him in 1966 and have been here ever since.

Proprietor: How Florence Sokol Keeps it Classic and Chic at Jones and Jones


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Since it’s opening in 1970, the chicest Baltimore women of all ages have flocked to Jones and Jones for everything from accessories and day dresses to black tie attire.

Owner Florence Sokol has been with the shop for 25 years – but she has been a fan of cutting edge fashion for longer. She and her team put their expertise to work, outfitting their customers in clothing that’s both fashion-forward and accessible.

Here, Sokol shares the story behind Jones and Jones, plus what she loves most in the store now – including what’s hot for the holiday season:

Proprietor: Emilie Blaze’s Perfect Fit–The Little Shoebox


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At The Little Shoebox in Ruxton, owner Emilie Blaze celebrates her love of shoes – especially those that are fun, feminine and different from what’s available at every department store across the country.

Proprietor: Meet The Liza Behind Liza Byrd Boutique



Known for well-made, brightly-patterned clothes and distinctive ruffled blouses, Liza Byrd Boutique is a favorite among Baltimore’s preppiest residents. For nearly two decades, the boutique’s owner Liza Jarrett has honed her design skills and keen eye for color and pattern. Today, she has a loyal following in Baltimore and beyond.

Here, Jarrett dishes on the story behind the shop, what her weeks are like, and which products she loves as gifts:

BFB: How did you get started at Liza Byrd? What made you open the shop?

Liza Jarrett: My business started 18 years ago and has evolved from a small furniture and hand painted home accessory business to a ladies and girls ready to wear line with a unique twist.

I had been a buyer for Merry Go Round stores – I bought dresses for 1,200 stores. We had an in-house design team, so that’s where I got the foundation for clothing and what I do with design.

BFB: You have multiple locations and also show your products at a lot of shows. What is a typical week like for you?

LJ: My weeks are spent running from place to place. I meet with my seamstress twice a week and manage my Richmond  location, shipping new inventory twice a week. I am in and out at the shop in Stevenson Village and the weeks when I am on the road participating in trunk show events are spent loading merchandise, setting up show location and sales at the events on the road.

Additionally behind the scenes, I am continually working on our overseas production, keeping up with marketing and planning next season’s out of town shows.

BFB: Why did you choose Stevenson Village as a location?

LJ: I chose Stevenson because it is convenient to get to, lots of parking and a wonderful shopping environment without the hassles of mall locations.

MI 2014 Day 1-060BFB: What is your favorite thing in the shop right now?

 LJ: Our ruffle collar tops. They are such a statement piece and available in two silhouettes.

BFB: What is your go-to holiday gift recommendation?

 LJ: Our pompon cardis in three colors–a great shape and flattering on many shapes and sizes.

BFB: How do you choose what to carry in the shop?

 LJ: The clothes we carry are our designs with inspiration coming from anything and everything.

For accessories and other gift items, we select affordable and whimsical items that complement our lively patterns and whimsical fashions.

 Liza Byrd is located in Stevenson Village, at 10435 Stevenson Road in Stevenson, MD. For more information, visit


Proprietor: Talking Fine Art with Merritt Miller of Renaissance Fine Arts



At Renaissance Fine Arts, sisters Merritt Miller and Rachel Rubin showcase a smart and diverse collection of art, including artists that range from regional to international. The gallery, started by their mother in the 1980s, has a constantly evolving collection – pieces sell and are replaced on a regular basis.

The sisters pride themselves on their ability to find art that is exceptional, then bring it back to the Baltimore community. “We’re local and that’s what we’re about,” says Miller. “Finding art nationally and internationally and bringing it here.”

Here, Miller shares the story of the gallery and some of her favorite things about the job:

BFB: How did you get you get started at Renaissance Fine Arts?

Proprietor: Rosanna Sech Tells us What’s Chic at Chic Chic Boutique


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Chic Chic Boutique is a relative newcomer in Cross Keys, opening just last summer. The shop’s owners, Dario and Rosanna Sech, bring years of fashion expertise and European flair to the Village. Originally from Italy, the couple gravitates toward international brands, especially those from Canada, Italy and Greece.

They pride themselves on selecting items and brands that aren’t available at other local shops, and they cater to women of all shapes and sizes. Here, Rosanna shares some of her favorites in the shop right now:

How did you get started at Chic Chic Boutique?

After many years of retailing, my husband and I decided to start our own business since we are both passionate about fashion.

What is your favorite thing in the shop right now?

My favorite item in the store is this black, Marisamonti dress.

What is your go-to holiday gift recommendation?

My go-to recommendation would be one of the various beautiful, Italian sweaters we have in the store!

What style icon or celebrity could you imagine shopping at Chic Chic Boutique?

Halle Berry would shop at Chic Chic Boutique because she was photographed wearing one of the jackets we carry in the store!

What’s new and exciting at Chic Chic Boutique? Any trends for this fall and winter?

We have this gorgeous leather, black My Tribe jacket that I think is perfect for the fall or winter! You could dress it up or wear it casually!

Chic Chic Boutique is located at  62 Village Square in the Village of Cross Keys in Baltimore.

Proprietor: Talking Style with Patti Puller of Chezelle



At Chezelle of Cross Keys, owner Patti Puller uses her great eye and sense of style to outfit plus-size women in the latest gorgeous gear, from casual clothes to evening wear. At Chezelle, Puller carries a variety of clothing in sizes 14 to 24, as well as accessories, from jewelry to handbags, and gift items.

Plus, Chezelle is a shop with a mission. “We also carry fair trade designers that help developing countries, paying them fair wages for their talent,” says Puller. Quality fashion with a humanitarian edge.

Here, Puller shares the story behind how she got started at Chezelle and what’s happening right now in the shop:

How did you get started at Chezelle?

I started in 1992 as the manager for Linda and Doug Lamm, who were the original owners of the store. I worked as their manager until 1996, when Linda asked if I wanted to buy the store. She told me if I didn’t buy it, I would be out of a job since she would close it. I think she did that so I would buy it!

So, on October 1, 1996, I signed the legal papers to buy Chezelle.

What is your favorite thing in the shop right now?

Jewelry is in such change right now. We carry metal necklaces and chains that are basic and novel. And there’s newness in the bead necklaces with coins, woven macrame in bright colors and woods in different shapes and colors to enhance your outfits.

What is your go-to holiday gift recommendation?

In preparation for the holiday season, I love accessories. Scarves and jewelry are the ones I have the most fun buying. I love color and texture – I think that shows when you come into the store.

What style icon or celebrity could you imagine shopping at Chezelle?

Our style icons would be Oprah Winfrey, Queen Latifah and Melissa McCarthy.

What’s new and exciting at Chezelle? Any trends for this fall and winter?

It’s sweater weather! Cashmere and cotton toppers are in great colors and are just enough over your shoulders to keep you toasty.

Chezelle is located in the Village of Cross Keys, at 22 Village Square in Baltimore. 

Proprietor: Ray Mitchener Introduces Us to The Girl Next Door

Ray Mitchener looks over plans for his new store.
Ray Mitchener looks over plans for his new store.

Changes are coming to the Village of Cross Keys, with the opening of a new boutique, The Girl Next Door, this weekend. The new store is the brainchild of Ray Mitchener, owner of the luxury fashion shop Ruth Shaw. The Girl Next Door aesthetic is casual and fun and, like Ruth Shaw, the shop will carry high quality, well-designed brands.

On the 5th of December, the shop will host an official grand opening open house, featuring Helmut Lang and Lema J jewelry. “It’ll be an all-day thing and some of the proceeds of sales that day will go to Karma for Cara, an organization that is special to me.”

Karma for Cara, which promotes youth volunteerism and engagement, was founded for Cara Becker, a young woman who passed away from leukemia in 2012. Cara’s mother, Jill Becker, was Mitchener’s first customer at Ruth Shaw.

We chatted with Mitchener about what shoppers should expect from The Girl Next Door, from t-shirts to bags.

Proprietor: Talking Shop with Maureen Gold of Ruth Shaw and Betsy Wendell of Octavia


Proprietor: Maureen Gold, Manager of Ruth Shaw

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Since it opened in 1973, Ruth Shaw has carried a variety of clothing and accessories brands selected with Baltimore’s most fashionable women in mind. Owner Ray Mitchener, who first joined the shop as a buyer in 1977, is known for his discerning eye and understanding of what makes the shopping experience enjoyable and exciting.

Over the past four decades, the shop has remained a go-to for Baltimore women looking for luxury brands. Here, Ruth Shaw’s manager and buyer Maureen Gold dishes on her experiences at Ruth Shaw – first as a customer, then as a buyer – and what is exciting in the store right now.



How did you get started at Ruth Shaw?

 My story goes back many years. I used to be a customer – on the other side. I felt like this was the only place to shop in my late 20s and 30s. It was my go-to. I developed a relationship with Ray and his staff. Ray and I had a friendship for many years and he always tried to get me to come work for him.

I had a young family at that time and it didn’t work out. When my daughter went off to school, I had a conversation with him about coming in. So instead of just being a buyer on a personal level, I came aboard as his manager, to bring a fresh perspective. That was eight years ago.

I always knew this was the place I could find great clothes and great advice. I liked that and wanted to help facilitate that in the community.

What is your favorite thing in the shop right now? And the most popular?

I am the accessories buyer, so that’s truly where my first love lies. I fought hard to bring in this line by Aurelie Bidermann. She’s a 39-year-old French jewelry designer who loves nature and layering her jewelry. She wears sleeves of bangles, all mixed and they work well together. Her turquoise and golds have such a natural, easy feel. That’s my love right now – beautiful, well-designed and well-priced (even though it’s French!).

As far as popularity goes, I think people come to us because what we carry is so different. They know when they come in, they find something they won’t find anywhere else locally. We pride ourselves in finding things you just don’t find everywhere, like waffle weave fedoras for fall/winter – they just flew out of here – and fox pom-pom skull caps in great colors.

My favorite thing is that we work really hard at finding cool sweaters. It surprises me every year – they always fly out before the cool weather even hits.

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What is your go-to holiday gift recommendation?

 I have a lot of husbands who know their wives shop here. If I can get an idea of what the woman wants ahead of time, she can be sure to find it under her tree. But if I don’t have a heads-up, I sell jewelry. Every woman loves a piece of jewelry at Christmas – finding something in a little box! Whether it’s diamonds or a sleeve of bangles, it says they put some thought into it.

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 What style icon or celebrity could you imagine shopping at Ruth Shaw?

The first person who comes to mind is Michelle Williams. She always looks appropriately chic. She never misses. She definitely has an edited style and always just hits the mark, whether it’s the length of her skirt or the height of her shoe.

You can tell somebody who has a clean vision of the way they want to be represented in their clothing. I think that’s what we do best here. We go to the showrooms and edit down, so the collection is understandable and timeless.


What’s new and exciting at Ruth Shaw? Any trends for this fall and winter?

 Something that’s surprising me is the love of the flat. Women are going more in the direction of comfort – it’s trending, which cracks me up. Every woman has a slip-on sneaker. That came out of nowhere for me and became one of my favorite surprise trends. You can put on a leather sneaker with anything in your closet and make it look cool.

Ruth Shaw is located at 68 Village Square in the Village of Cross Keys in Baltimore. For more information, visit or call 410-537-7668.


Proprietor: Betsy B. Wendell of Octavia II


Since 1965, family-owned Octavia II has been dressing the women of Baltimore in fashions that are both sophisticated and distinguished. Run by Betsy Wendell, the granddaughter-in-law of the boutique’s founder, Octavia II has earned a reputation as a go-to stop for women with impeccable taste, who appreciate top-notch service.

In addition to having a great eye, Wendell is a strong advocate for Baltimore’s local fashion retail community. “If you don’t support the local stores, you can’t expect to get the best designers or looks,” she says. “If you buy online or while on vacation and don’t support the locals, slowly, the availability will dry up. My best customers have always told me, ‘We made it in Baltimore, we are going to spend it in Baltimore.'”

Here, Wendell dishes on the story behind Octavia II and what’s hot in the store this season:

How did you get started at Octavia II?

Octavia is a family business opened by my grandmother-in-law, Octavia Dugan. Octavia was friends with Jim Rouse, who asked her if she’d like to open a store in this thing called a “mall.”

My career in fashion was far less creative in its infancy. Pageants and modeling shoots – I was wearing the clothes, not designing and selling them. Eventually, I found my niche buying the clothes from around the world, hand-picking designs and colors just for my clients – dressing some of Baltimore’s (and beyond’s) most elite fashionistas.

What is your favorite thing in the shop right now?

My favorite items in the shop right now have got to be our incredible selection of jewelry from Gay Boyer, now called Boyer New York. Our “Pebbles and Bam Bam” necklace would make even Barbara Bush proud! Magnetic closures on the necklaces make it so even with our “old eyes,” we can wear fashionable pieces.

What is your go-to holiday gift recommendation?

The best holiday gift is our reversible fur trim rain jacket. It reverses to rainwear and is great for travel. It’s affordable at $1,095. It’s two coats in one and light as a feather.

For something easier on the wallet, I love our Thymes Reed Diffusers in the Frasier Fir scent, which are $65 for the liquid scent bottle, decorative container and reeds. It will last more than just this year and is a favorite gift among our customers – and the proprietors!

What style icon or celebrity could you imagine shopping at Octavia II?

There have been many – but we would never kiss and tell at Octavia! One day, maybe I will write a book…and hopefully my fellow Cross Keys proprietors will contribute their own chapters.

Octavia originally opened her doors to “spread the word of the Lord.” Everyone is a celebrity in that scenario!

What’s new and exciting at Octavia II? Any trends for this fall and winter?

The best trend right now is color, color and more color. Ponchos are ruling the runways of our shows and skinny leggings from Lysse and Not Your Daughters Jeans have the market covered this year. Everyone is buying into it. It has taken decades for the skinny pant to return and I’m planning on it staying for a while. Get on the wagon.

Octavia II is located at 94 Village Square in the Village at Cross Keys in Baltimore.  For more information, visit the Octavia II Facebook page or call 410-323-3066.