In the city of Tacoma, Washington, Umi Wagoner, an original native of the town, followed through with his plans to return back to his home and create the town's first street wear influenced boutique. Below we sit down and ask him a few questions to familiarize with eTc Tacoma, as well as in the process realize what the importance of boutiques and shops of this nature have on a community, even in this age of digital shopping.
What kind of customer shops at eTc? Our customers are the youth of Tacoma and the towns surrounding it that have residents who either work in and/or frequent Tacoma. There are plently of colleges out here. That is the customer we want to mesh with the most. A majority of our customers shop here to show a since of Tacoma local pride - which has recently become very important here, we are still doing our best to let the culture customer know we are here and carrying all the heat they'll want in eight months. It's their first time getting this opportunity though so we know it will take time and we want to usher them in organically.
Tell us a little bit about the location and what you are doing for the community and "street wear" as a whole. Tacoma is the third largest city in the state of Washington, but few people know that. There is a severe lack of gratitude towards what we (as a city) bring to the state, which stems for a gang ridden past due to migrated gang members from Compton and South Central expanding their chapters to the now infamous Eastside & Hilltop communities. There was a heavy fog that kept Tacoma from supporting itself - those times are now over and with fresh soil and eTc we have been among the first in the rebuilding process. We bring an advanced shopping experience for the youth outside of a mall setting - the idea of a boutique is often unimaginable because of the mall, but we provide what the mall can not and our vendors won't allow. From a "street wear" standpoint we want to uphold the true idea of limited edition and the generations before us - the characters we look up to like Nigo and Takahashi with NOWHERE. Or the Union NY and old LA guys. Because of the culture behind "street wear" the new way of business is hard to bare with - but we are here to bring the best brands to the Northwest and hoard them.
What are some brands that you carry now? We currently carry CLSC Co., Above Average Co., Phresh Cru, 40s & Shorties and PNCINTL to name a few. All of these brands have cult followings that have extended over time online and beyond into retail locations. A few of the brands we carry are very grass roots and are companies developed by our friends who work for bigger brands such as Diamond, HallofFame, The Hundreds, etc.
What are your plans for the future? Our biggest plans for the near future are collaborations to show branding power. Long term plans are to make eTcTacoma a staple by providing what is next in our industry and getting it out to the entire Pacific Northwest. We are also going to grow the in-store brand to the point where we can be carried internationally and in select stores within the United States. Brands we do hope to carry in the future are Rare Panther, Pigalle and Public Label.
Any word for those wishing to follow in your footsteps or start a business of their own?Have a passion for the industry in which you decide to develop your business. Research and be patient to let opportunities happen but never stop working - not on any frontier - marketing, design and networking never sleep. Other than that have fun - make sure you add fun into the schedule, write it on your calendar.