Monday, March 14, 2016

Shopping Gems: Aoki Boutique

Model Kawtar rocking a varsity jacket from brand 'Sugar Lips'

Philadelphia is known for many things including our food, art and music but one thing many may not know about our city is that we have a bubbling fashion scene too. We have some of the best shopping districts, boutiques and malls all in a close distance. Being that my favorite (and most expensive) hobby is shopping, I thought I share some of my favorite shopping gems in the city of Philadelphia!

Now, this shop is one I heard many great things about but never visited myself until this interview. Aoki Boutique is a quirky boutique located in Center City with its own sense of style and flare. Featured in major publications such as Philadelphia Style and Nylon Magazine, Aoki Boutique is sure on its way to being a household name in the fashion world. With that being said, I wanted to get to know the mastermind behind this fabulous place. Introducing Alina Alter, owner of Aoki Boutique! Meeting her for the first time, I understood why this shop was such a success. Not only was she super nice but she was also very stylish. It was such a great time shooting the clothing and getting to know the woman behind this amazing success. 

Check out my interview with her and some of my favorite looks from the store!

Dress from Sugar Lips and belt from Rebecca Imperiano
1.) What inspired you to open a clothing store? Was that always an interest for you?
To be honest I did not grow up dreaming of owning a boutique, but it grew out of a combination of interests and desires, and has been the perfect fit for me. I went to hotel school, but knew that I wanted to be self-employed, that I wanted a women-centered business, and that I wanted to curate a collection of some sort- the boutique developed out of those desires, and I've been able to use my hospitality background to create a nice ambiance here for people and deliver great customer service. It just shows that it's ok to switch career paths or not directly use your college degree because everything gets you to where you are now, and you can always apply what you've learned elsewhere in unexpected ways. 

Poncho: Line & Dot | Pants: Terese Sydonna
2.) Who are your current fashion inspirations? Do you incorporate them while picking items for your store?

Travel is my main source of inspiration; in college I spent a semester abroad in Tokyo and just returned from another visit there. Tokyo fashion is so vibrant, off the wall, and original- even the way people there tuck their shirt in or tie a scarf can be a source of inspiration for me. I do incorporate some of that into the way I buy for the store because I want my girls to have unique pieces and feel like an original in the way they dress and express themselves aesthetically, so I have a lot of fun picking things that make that easy for them. 

Dress: Sugar + Lips
3.) What inspired the name Aoki Boutique?

Aoki is named after my cat, who is my sidekick and the store's unofficial mascot. She embodies the spirit of the brand and my target customer- a woman who is empowered, curious, adventurous, and kind.

BTS Photo | Jacket: DRA

4.) Do you work with local designers for your merchandise? How do you select all of you items?

I do work with local designers as well as more established brands from all over the world. I like the idea of seeing local emerging talent on the same stage as bigger known labels. I buy with an eye for my personal taste- if I wouldn't wear it or use it, it doesn't come in. That way it's a very organic and cohesive collection, and an authentic extension of myself. I find products at trade shows, on Etsy, and from seeking out designers or brands that I personally love and want to carry. Nearly everyday I'm fielding emails from new labels or products that want to be represented here, so I'm constantly sorting through potential new additions to the collection.

5.) What do you see in the future for Aoki Boutique?

I hope that Aoki Boutique will always be synonymous with great product and, just as importantly, with top notch customer service. I have built meaningful and lasting relationships with my customers and have a lot of regulars who I'm so grateful for- I hope everyone will always think of Aoki Boutique fondly and with admiration and respect. I hope that will be the store's legacy. People frequently ask me if I would consider adding a second location or expanding, but to me bigger is not always better in business. What I'm doing here is working and I like the idea of a small but successful operation, where people hopefully feel like they stumbled upon a little hidden gem in the city. 

Front View | Dress: Sugar Lips & Belt: Rebbecca Imperiano 

 Be sure to visit Aoki Boutique and follow her Instagram!

 Model: Kawtar @karrkarr_
Photographer: Daniella @nanasopretty


  1. Awesomeness. I use to live in Philly and I completely agree. Thanks for sharing and we look forward to seeing you soon.

    Eye See Euphoria |

    1. Thanks! Hope to work with you soon.

  2. This is so cool!
    Xo, Christianne