Jamaican-owned fashion boutique Glam Expressway thrives in DUMBO, New York
In 2013, Lindsay Stuart started Glam Expressway as a website, selling fashion jewellery and accessories online and at pop-up shops. “I remember seeing the Essence Festival setting up in the neighbourhood from my apartment window. I would run over and set up my little table and sell my jewellery and accessories. One event went so well that I realised I could do this every day,” reminisces Stuart, the Kingston native. Eventually, in 2017, she expanded and began selling “anything I thought was cool”, which included clothing and shoes. Noticing that her community of DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) in Brooklyn, New York, lacked fashion boutiques, Stuart took a leap of faith and opened her brick and mortar location soon after. “You could say I opened Glam Expressway because I saw a need in my community. I live in this part of Brooklyn, and there really wasn’t, and still isn’t, anywhere else to shop in the area. I also noticed that this neighbourhood (DUMBO) is very trendy and popular with lots of tourists, residents, office workers, and creatives. I thought it was insane that there weren’t any cool, funky, and affordable boutiques in the area.”
While noting that she has always had a great appreciation for fashion and individuals with personal style, Stuart, an Immaculate Conception High School alum, actually studied business and always knew that she wanted to be an entrepreneur. She says that what sets the clothing apart at Glam Expressway is that she knows what women like and how they want to feel and uses this knowledge when buying stock. “I carry a lot of statement pieces and items that can make a woman feel special. I think it works because I don’t try to be anything that I am not. I don’t try to be too luxury-based. I know my lane and saw that it was wide open,” says the mother of four.
Her clientele varies widely, and while research shows that younger women tend to shop online, the customers who shop at Glam Expressway are from all different age groups. “I have a customer in her seventies who shops with me regularly, and I have been fortunate to have some celebrities [who] really love and support my brand. Cush Jumbo is a regular customer of mine, Elle Varner has shopped here, Ashley Graham has been in our store, and we recently helped to outfit Latoya Tonodeo from Power. I feel lucky that such a wide variety of people see, feel, and appreciate the love that I put into what I do,” she says.
“I can’t fully express to you the joy I feel when I have a happy customer. It really is a total high. You have this concept that starts with an idea. You pour yourself into it, so when it works, you feel like you are on top of the world. You want to dive further in. It is a part of the extreme highs and lows that can come with entrepreneurship. It becomes an addiction, and when the formula works, you want to create more,” she adds.
The pandemic forced the location to close for almost four months in 2020. “It was terrifying,” she remarks. “Any business owner can tell you that they have a certain number that they need to hit daily. So being forced to close felt like drowning. At first, it felt like I could lose everything that I worked so hard for, but I made a decision early on that I was going to find every resource and do whatever needed to be done. Because that is entrepreneurship, so I find solutions to problems. Thankfully, I was able to find other ways to satisfy my community. We started free delivery in DUMBO, offering curbside pick-up; we collaborated with a graffiti artist to come up with our original line of loungewear, which sold out twice. I feel blessed to have received the support that I did last year.”
Our conversation leads to what is currently trending at Glam Expressway, and Stuart is quick to give us the 411. “Plaid is big right now in every variation. It doesn’t have to be a fall or winter thing. It can be for all seasons and climates. It just depends on the colours you are using. People are doing plaid button-downs, plaid jackets, and also layering in plaid. Right now, we are carrying plaid tennis skirts that are actually skorts. That can be styled with a crew neck tee or a hoodie, making it a combination of streetwear and preppy.” Trousers are always having a moment. Vintage graphic tees are trending. Embellished sleeves are definitely a thing. Cutouts are all the rage. Vegan leather is light enough to rock in heat and heavy enough for colder days. Lightweight knits are also a vibe, and mom jeans, yes, mom jeans, even if you aren’t a mom, are a must-have.
With hopes of Glam Expressway continuing to grow, Stuart shares that they have become more inclusive, with their sizes ranging from extra small to double extra-large. “We want to have something for everyone and make them feel welcome at Glam Expressway.” Making it a point to hire and sell products from mostly female vendors and people of colour, Stuart says, “I just want to empower people and leave a positive imprint in the world.”
Find Glam Expressway at 145 Front St, Brooklyn, NY 11201, United States. Online at shopglamexpressway.com, and on IG @glamexpressway