Many stories lurk throughout Asheville, whether behind the Vaudevillian jazz-folk played by buskers around Pritchard Park, the colorful businesses decorated with funky, hand-made crafts or the laughter echoing from a patio as locals enjoy delicious beer.
Photos by Larisa Karr.
Elle Erickson, owner of Urban Gypsy pop-up thrift store
How would you describe your style?
“F****** amazing — gypsy, hot, bad-ass, goddess, boho-chic. I kind of mix it up. I like to take vintage pieces and maybe a trendy piece and fuse different elements in a way. Empowering, yeah.”
Tell me about Urban Gypsy.
“It’s really not just necessarily about the clothes — well it is, but it isn’t. You get people in here, and they see the clothes, they get highly excited and love wearing them. But it’s also great because you get such a beautiful energy and the way it is decorated, it gives them a kind of permission to step outside of their comfort zone and try things that they normally wouldn’t try and kind of step into an inspired fantasy world. The energy is just so magical. You know, we tie in local people. We have an artist doing face painting, locally made jewelry, Tarot reading, a girl coming to do Thai massage. I’ll go to different cities and bring in something different, you know, like someone doing poetry. So, it’s kind of an organic thing every time. It’s like a festival that meets shopping. I like to go to Burning Man and those kinds of festivals and bring some of that energy back. So basically, I have a lot that I want to say and I’m very passionate about things. I like to help people, and this is almost like a vehicle to get them to me. I can say, ‘Oh yeah, the clothes! But let me tell you about going vegan or going to Burning Man.’ It works. This space is amazing. I love going to different spaces every time, maybe an art gallery, a bar or a yoga studio and just pop up.”
Where are you from initially?
“Michigan initially, but I’ve been in Charlotte for a long time, and I just moved here. I’ve been wanting to move here for years. I had to leave my husband to do it, but it’s awesome that I finally got here. I’ve been in love with Asheville for about 10 years.”
What differentiates Urban Gypsy from other similar funky boutiques downtown?
“The other stores are geared more toward tourists. They also have a bit more overhead than I do, whereas I can kind of travel and keep it at lower, fairer prices for people. So, I’m lucky like that, because I don’t have to pay a monthly rent.”
What inspired you creatively when you put together this business?
“I’m definitely not the type of person who wants to be trapped behind four walls. I like to be on the go and I have a lot of energy, stimulation — go, go, go, go, go, shiny thing, shiny thing. So to be trapped in a store all day would not be good for me. I like the idea of being able to pop-up and go to this new city, meet new people, have an awesome time, and then pack it all up, get on the road and have a few weeks off in between. It’s all new; it’s constantly changing. I love clothes, of course.”
“It initially started to kind of justify my shopping addiction because I would be constantly thrifting and buying new clothes. But now when I go, I can get any size, which is nice because I don’t just have to get stuff for me. I can get it all and sell it! I don’t have to feel guilty about it, so that’s what’s cool. This is all recycled stuff. When you leave, there’s not that sinking feeling like when you go to Urban Outfitters where you spend $130 on three things. Here, you leave and you’re just high and you’re so happy. Everything I handpick myself and I love. Then you buy it, and when you take it home and wear it, that energy is kind of transfused into the clothes and you remember, ‘Oh, I was at that happy gypsy show.’ It makes you happy, you know? That’s cool that it kind of moves along with it.”
Jamie Barwick, South Carolina native, bar and Navitat employee
Describe your outfit right now
“I mostly just buy stuff from the thrift store that I think is fun. The only thing new are these shoes.”
Your style in three words.
“I don’t know. I would say: thrifty, earthy, funky.”
What inspires you creatively?
“I like to f*** with my hair because it always grows back. I really like nature as well as colors, patterns, designs.”
Do you like the style of Asheville?
“I do, it’s a fun place. I’m staying for another year.”