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Manahawkin Natives Set Up Sister Shops in Heart of Tuckerton – The SandPaper

The Newsmagazine of Long Beach Island and Southern Ocean County

BLONDE MOMENT: Blonde South Hair Co. owner Casey Reven welcomes clients to her new salon, where she specializes in blonding and extensions. (Supplied photo)
Settled by Quakers in 1699, Tuckerton is rich in history and coastal grandeur. Centered around Lake Pohatcong and the replica Tuckerton Seaport Lighthouse, the business district has preserved its historic charms. Small businesses abound, and now there are two more reasons to go into town: Press Clothing Boutique and the adjacent Blonde South Hair Co. salon.
Both shops are independent women-owned and operate side-by-side, as two separate entities. They opened a little over a month ago after an eight-week, full renovation and have quickly become established as part of the community. “We’ve created a really nice environment here,” said Press Clothing Boutique owner Chrystie Shimko. “The community is responding really well to it, saying ‘this is exactly what we’ve been waiting for.’”
What “this” is, exactly, is a place to relax with like-minded friends and indulge in a little self-care.
With regards to opening neighboring storefronts with her close friend Casey Reven, “It’s been mutually beneficial,” said Shimko. “People come shop and then get their hair done, and vice versa.”
Shimko grew up in Manahawkin and was a 2008 graduate of Southern Regional High School. She inherited her passion for boutique fashion from her mother, with whom she shopped boutiques all over the tristate area from a young age. Shimko credits her parents, Bill and Cheryl Shimko, for helping her flourish. “I’m so grateful for my parents’ love, and for supporting all of my dreams and adventures,” she shared with a laugh. “I’ve always been into clothes and fashion. It’s just always been something that I loved.” She has worked in the retail industry for about a decade, at boutiques and spending a handful of years with Lulu Lemon.
Shimko distinguished herself in the industry when she began customizing clothing and offering a personal shopping service. “I built a little bit of a brand and said, ‘OK, I think I’m ready to expand and do this,” she said in reference to opening her own storefront. Once she scouted out the space, she reached out to longtime friend and hair stylist Casey Reven.
Reven also grew up in Manahawkin, but transferred out of SRHS to attend Paul Mitchell Cosmetology School, from which she graduated in 2013. From there, she bounced around until 2017, when she found a salon that felt like home: Dazzlz, in Barnegat. “I developed great friendships, relationships and great relationships with clients,” Reven said gratefully. “I never thought I was going to leave.” Her friends and clients, however, knew there was a bigger journey in store for her. “I had a lot of push from the people around me,” she said with a suggestive glance toward Shimko.
“It was this space, specifically, that got me,” Reven continued, explaining that despite needing a total overhaul, she had a vision for Blonde South Hair Co. “Seeing it, I knew where everything would go. I completely saw it, from day one, and I said if this location doesn’t work out, I’m not doing it.” Her interior vision manifested in a bright, open space, industrial but elegant, with gold framed mirrors and light fixtures against white-washed brick. In addition to that vision, she said “I saw the potential in this town, and Chrystie was very motivating in getting the ball rolling.”
SALON DOG: Meet Chloe, an Australian shepherd puppy who greets salon clients with a happy tail wag in exchange for some pets. (Supplied photo)
Reven brought in another former stylist colleague and “just about all of our clientele,” she beamed. “We were pretty much booked out when we got here,” she said, adding that she brought in additional stylists to accommodate the client demand. “Like Chrystie said, it’s been overwhelming in the best way.”
The most beloved team member at Blonde South Co. is not a stylist but an Australian shepherd puppy named Chloe. “She’s our salon dog and clients are absolutely over the moon about her,” said Reven. If invited, Chloe will even snuggle clients’ laps while they are being shampooed. “People say it’s their therapy session.”
MIRROR, MIRROR: Who is fairest of them all? Blonde South Hair Co. invites clients to pull up a chair for fabulous hair. (Supplied photo)
Blonde South specializes, of course, in blonding! However, Shimko assured the shop is not limited to just one color or style. “I have jet black hair and Casey colors my hair every two weeks!”
Reven added, “Extensions are our other specialty.”
After getting done up, clients can casually walk next door to Press Clothing Boutique and peruse the sunny, modern shop for a new fit for the week, or purchase a gift for a loved one. Shimko’s shop boasts local artisan-made wares such as candles, signs, pillows, room sprays and other home goods. Some local vendors she supports include RyBands and Lindsay Boho Designs.
As far as fashion goes, Press Clothing is both chic and comfortable, offering everything from a selection of dazzling cocktail dresses and other formal fits to bold-shouldered blouses, to plush hoodies and casual lounge sets. The racks are brimming with jackets and “shackets” (a trend Shimko says isn’t going anywhere) and a variety of denim and handbags.
The boutique is also size-inclusive. “I want you to come in here and feel comfortable no matter what your size is,” Shimko affirmed. She has garments ranging from XS to 3X.
“We also offer personal shopping and shopping for special events,” Shimko explained. This customized service sets Shimko apart from most clothing retailers. A client planning an ensemble for a special event can meet with Shimko and discuss a look best suited to their needs. “Say you have a wedding to go to. You can come in, we can talk about it and I can start looking for items for you,” she elaborated. “The inventory is directly purchased through the shop, personally shopped for you.”
Shimko’s inventory is constantly changing and rotating, as she sources quality designers on her own. Moreover, she has the feedback from her friends in the neighboring salon, and of course, their clients.
“We really want to encourage that environment, where you can come, have a cup of coffee, get your hair done and establish relationships.” With community at the forefront of their business model, Shimko and Reven aim to actively involve their businesses in community sponsorships and donation drives. “We’re here for it!”
Thanksgiving weekend, the sister shops are hosting a holiday coat drive. Shimko is accepting coats of all sizes and styles to be dispersed throughout Southern Ocean County, from Manahawkin to New Gretna. The drive will run through mid-December. Those who drop off a coat will receive a percentage off of any purchase in the boutique.
As always, consumers are encouraged to shop small, especially during the holidays. Blonde South Hair Co. is running Black Friday deals through mid-December on retail and services.
Small Business Saturday will serve as an opening celebration for prospective clients and community members to check out the spaces, book appointments, enjoy light refreshments and get in on some exclusive deals. The boutique will offer seasonal inventory such as Christmas sweaters, holiday crew hats, holiday pillows and other home decor.
Visit pressclothingnj.com to check out the latest inventory. Seasonal residents who are out of state or anyone still uncomfortable shopping during the pandemic can see the latest inventory on Instagram (@pressclothing_nj) and Facebook (@Press Clothing Boutique) and order online, or call 609-857-3487. Blonde South Hair Co. can be reached at 609-812-5737, and followed on Instagram at @blondesouthhairco. Both shops are at 110 E. Main St.
— Monique M. Demopoulos
Photos by Jack Reynolds
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