Jennifer Craft has a vision and a style she’s bringing to Lafayette — if only the city will let her. Her boutique on wheels (literally) could do for clothing what food trucks have done in Lafayette for a new brand of eats — bring something eclectic once only found in brick and mortar to the masses at their doorstep at a good price point.
Craft left her job as an assistant buyer for Dillard’s corporate offices in Arkansas to devote her time and efforts to Civilian Style — a converted trailer boutique. She set up in Little Rock for a bit using a peddler’s license and soon made the decision to head back south to her home state.
“The culture here is perfect for this type of business,” Craft says. “People are more interested here in unique concepts and willing to accept a new idea and they are really into fashion.”
Thus far, the fashion-minded seem to have welcomed her with open arms. The permits department — not so much. While Craft is quick to say the people with Lafayette Consolidated Government are kind and helpful, the standards aren’t something they can fudge. Because she sells commercial goods (unlike the food sold by the growing fleet of local food trucks), she does not qualify for the same permits, which means her mobile business must stay put just across the way from Taco Sisters on Johnston and Vermilion streets.
She loves the location but doesn’t want to stay grounded forever. Craft hopes the rules will change, and in the meantime is making eclectic wares from lemons so to speak.
She believes in blending style and era. In her silver trailer you won’t find rack after rack of clothing. You’ll find a kind of capsule collection of clothes and accessories with affordable prices — next to a little festival dress you’ll see a simple maxi; near preppy little pieces hanging by a display of necklaces she snagged at an estate sale are pieces she crafts herself.
It’s a kind of style that’s aimed at a market she sees right in the neighborhood where she’s parked — near Freetown. And one she hopes will welcome this new way of buying clothes.
“I’m not going for the same customer that a lot of people are, and that’s why I chose this area,” Craft says. “It’s a unique shopping solution in a unique environment.”