FASHION FORWARD: “We have always offered a high level of choices. The quality of our designs and collections and the concept of our business have never changed. We will always continue this.” Rachel Reiss, owner of Hedy Shepard LTD, is shown with her late mother Lynn Rabinowitz, who was co-owner of the popular women’s shop for 20 years.
By Jean Stratton
Hedy Shepard LTD is a longtime Princeton favorite.
This popular women’s shop at 175 Nassau Street, always in the forefront of fashion, offers a dynamic selection of all-occasion clothing — career to evening, sophisticated, and very wearable.
No question about it. Hedy Shepard LTD is the place to be for the fashion-conscious woman of today!
Despite a pandemic and the challenges of online shopping (and winter storms!), this special store remains a go-to resource for women who want stylish and unique fashion.
Originally opened in 1987 by Hedy Shepard, it became the fashion focus for new owners Lynn Rabinowitz and her daughter Rachel Reiss in 2000. The mother-daughter team operated the store together until Lynn’s death last year.
It is Reiss’ hope and commitment to carry on the vision that she and her mother began.
“I am proud to continue the tradition that my mother and I enjoyed establishing together. It will be an incredible sense of accomplishment to take the tools and lessons that she has given me in life and business, and move on with the same grace and dignity we have shared with our community for the past 20 years. She gave me something I always dreamed of, and my dream has come true.”
That dream began, when as a young girl, Reiss became intrigued with fashion. “I also had a mom who was always dressed attractively, and this was part of my experience.”
In addition, she worked as Hedy Shepard’s associate, first in Hedy’s Yardley, Pa., store, and then in Princeton. “I learned a lot from Hedy,” says Reiss, “and my mother and I continued her emphasis on quality and exciting fashion, and we wanted to build on it.”
What attracts customers away from the convenience and quick fix of an Amazon purchase? Yes, online shopping is convenient, but it is also impersonal.
Increasingly, in our technologically-focused society, to lure customers from the comfort of home, something special must be awaiting them.
They will find it at Hedy Shepard LTD! Personal service, attention to detail, a staff waiting to share fashion ideas and honest advice, and to spend time with each customer — and all within a charming environment. This is the Hedy Shepard hallmark, and it continues to stand the test of time.
“Our customers come here because they know they will be taken care of,” points out Reiss. “We are truly about service. About greeting someone by name, giving them our full attention. We know their needs — their style, their shape, their size. And we are always on the lookout for something that is right for them.
“The person who walks in our store is the suburban woman who doesn’t find what she wants in other places, who has frequently been forgotten in the direction fashion is going today, which is often increasingly youth-oriented. We offer long-term investment dressing. Our collection is classic and elegant, and also quirky with an edge, but not way out. Just very interesting.”
Customers range in age from 50 to 90, she adds, and they come from Princeton and the surrounding area, including Yardley. Many are longtime, loyal patrons who value both the Hedy Shepard LTD innovative fashion and the customer focus.
The shop carries the latest styles and fashion choices in all categories. Customers will find dresses, pants, sweaters, blouses, tunics, blazers, and outerwear. Cotton, silk, and cashmere are in demand, and there are many new advances in various fabric blends, which are very popular.
“Our customers want colorful tops today,” reports Reiss. “Also, black, navy, and gray are always favorites, but we are also seeing pink, yellow, and big bold prints.
“They also want jewelry and scarves. Things from the waist up. One reason for this is that so many people are on Zoom now, so you see everyone from the waist up.”
Necklaces and earrings are especially popular, she says, and the jewelry selection ranges from delicate to dramatic and bold.
Accessorizing is so important to the fashion statement, and the Hedy Shepard staff can help the customer with a variety of choices. Scarves are almost an all-purpose “must-have” today, and the selection offers something for everyone. Silk, cashmere, and blends are all available in many sizes, styles, patterns, and color combinations.
The same is true of belts, another popular accessory, and there is certainly something for everyone.
In addition, Reiss explains that it is not necessary to purchase a lot of new clothes or to spend a great amount of money to achieve a new look. “It’s very good to buy one or two new items that can be worn with several other things. This is creating a wardrobe. You don’t wear something only one way. By mixing and matching, you get mileage out of your wardrobe.
“We help people understand that they can reinvent their existing wardrobe with just a few new additions. You can create a whole new look! Many customers appreciate our help in putting an outfit together for them.”
She emphasizes that one’s individual style is important. Fashion is not dictated by rigid rules, as it was in the past. It is much more eclectic.
“You can make your own rules now, create your own individual style. You don’t have to conform to anything but who you are. It’s important for people to feel comfortable in what they wear, and that it reflects who they are.”
Hedy Shepard LTD offers the collections of many important designers, including Veronique Miljokovitch, Majestic, Cambio, Perserico, Dana Kellin, Wilt, Vitamin, Liviana Conti, Pashma, and Angela Caputi, among others.
Of course, the pandemic underlies much of what people think and do today. After being closed last year from March to June, the shop reopened its doors, and many customers returned, eager to see the latest styles.
All the safety and sanitation precautions are in place, and customers and staff are careful to wear masks and practice social distancing.
During the time the store was closed, Reiss instituted an innovative Style Boxes program, which became very popular.
“We would send a variety of items for clients to choose from. They trust us to know their taste and also their height, body shape, etc. We ship all across the country. Some clients are people who knew us in Princeton and then moved; others found us while visiting here, and some live in Princeton.
“They might need a special dress for a wedding or party, and we can send some choices. The Style Boxes became so popular that we will continue it even after the virus. It’s fun and functional — it’s the anticipation of getting something special.”
Hedy Shepard LTD offers a range of prices, and customers will appreciate the fact that the store is in the midst of a big sale, with 50 percent to 60 percent off all fall and winter items. There are also two racks, primarily featuring pants and tops, each at $25.
Being with the customers and helping them to look their best is Rachel Reiss’ biggest pleasure. “I enjoy the interaction with them so much, and I am so grateful for the past 20 years. Whatever I have given to my customers, they have given more to me.
“We have been supported by a core group that has really participated in keeping us in business, and that means so much. I am really nothing without my customers and vendors, and Galina Gaziev, our longtime sales associate has been with us for 15 years. She has been an integral part of the daily operation, and she has a real following.”
The virus has changed nearly everything, she adds, with people not dressing in the same way as they did before. But there is still nothing like a new dress, jacket, scarf, or piece of jewelry to create a feel-good moment.
Maybe something special for Valentine’s Day? Even if the plan is for an evening at home, a new look might be just the thing.
“I have such energy from doing what I love to do,” says Reiss, “and I am so lucky I get to do what I love. Of course, I am definitely looking forward to more familiar times. I will be here waiting for our customers when they have places to go and reasons to dress up again!”
Hours are Tuesday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and by appointment. (609) 921-0582. Website: hedyshepardltd.com.