At Frankie's On The Park, we know how exciting it is to shop for holiday gifts for our family and favorite friends, but that it's also just as fun to give back! This holiday season, we partnered with My Favorite Outfit and held a clothing drive in our stores.
My Favorite Outfit is a non-profit organization that sets up pop up boutiques filled with fashionable, donated clothing in Chicago's underserved schools for girls to shop for free who were recommended by their teachers. As a part of My Favorite Outfit's Women Who Inspire Us blog series, our owner Lisa Burik was featured to share her story on how she was inspired to launch Frankie's On The Park.
See the full interview below!
What inspired you to start Frankie’s on the Park?
Since graduating business school 28 years ago, I have worked doing management consulting in the healthcare industry. In 2004, my partners and I sold the consulting firm we had started in 1989 to Navigant Consulting. While I loved my career, with 3 children at home and a desire for a job with less travel and stress, a few years into working at Navigant, I decided the time was right to try something different (although I still do special projects for Navigant even now!).
My daughter Frankie, who was 11 years old at the time, had always loved fashion; it was really her way of expressing herself, in essence her art. We loved travelling to New York where there was an awesome store, Lester’s, that had all the latest and coolest styles for girls (and boys!) and we wondered why there was nothing like that in our great big city of Chicago. So being an entrepreneur at heart (and with no retail background except a stint in high school at the local gift store), I decided to launch Frankie’s on the Park!
In a nutshell, what is Frankie’s mission?
Frankie’s on the Park is the destination for tweens, ages 8-13 and beyond, to express their individuality and build their confidence through fashion in ways that both girls and Moms adore! Through our bricks and mortar boutiques and interactive e-commerce site accessible to tweens everywhere, Frankie’s on the Park stocks the latest must-haves for every season, as well as the biggest selection of special occasion styles and high quality basics for every girl’s wardrobe. Tweens can even customize their fashion, including camp, birthday parties and gift items at our DIY Graffiti Bar. A big part of Frankie’s mission is to show our tweens that fashion and giving back to the community can go hand-in-hand - charity fashion shows, party dress donations at children’s hospitals, and shopping events, featuring our young fashionistas are regulars on the busy Frankie’s event schedule. Our mission also encourages tweens to experiment with fashion as a business through Frankie’s Fashion Camp where kids launch their own brands and learn what it takes to make it in the business of fashion. In a nutshell, Frankie’s on the Park is so much more than a store for tweens – it is a destination for communities of girls everywhere to grow up, learning to love and express themselves through fashion and experience all the positive ways it can impact themselves and others!
What was your biggest fear as you launched the company? How did you overcome it?
Given that I knew absolutely nothing about running a retail business, I had to get up to speed quickly on everything from retail math to point of sale systems to buying properly to staffing models, etc. My business background and attention to details/numbers focus was essential in achieving my goals for Frankie’s.
Have you had a breakthrough moment when you knew Frankie’s was a success?
“Success” can be defined in so many ways – happy customers, meaningful events that support great causes, assembling an awesome management team, a busy back-to-school and/or holiday season – these are all successes. That being said, I think that Frankie’s biggest success is the impact Frankie’s has had on each and every girl. For example, I always think of this one girl with severe epilepsy who was the ‘star” of one of our fundraisers; she had never really had the opportunity to enjoy fashion and the look of sheer excitement on her face when she showed everyone the super-cool sweatshirt she had made herself at our Graffiti Bar will stick with me forever!
How does your approach to your clothing (style or outfits) help you be the best leader you can be?
My leadership style is to set a general direction and specific goals and then let my team run with it, while holding them accountable for results. My clothing style is similar, I have a general style (pretty simple with some fun trend pieces/accessories each season) and specific goals (comfort!) – and then anything goes!
Do you believe clothing has the ability to improve confidence? If yes, please express a time when you experienced this.
YES! That is the underlying assumption of everything Frankie’s every single day! It is so fun watching girls grow up at Frankie’s under the amazing guidance of the “tween whisperers” that work at Frankie’s (a term one of our customers gave to one of our rock star team members.) Girls come in with all different levels of confidence and comfort with shopping, fashion and the desire to fit-in on their own terms, but they ALWAYS leave Frankie’s happy and confident!
What is your favorite outfit to wear? How does it make you feel when you wear it?
I love outfits that my daughters Frankie and Nina help me style – they have such awesome ideas of how to do different things with the items in my closet and when I wear these outfits I feel that they are with me all day which OBVIOUSLY I love!
How has helping others – both through work and outside of work – impacted you?
Helping others has always been important to me in my work and outside of work choices. From initially picking a career in healthcare, to starting a foundation to raise money to find an early detection test for pancreatic cancer after my Dad died at a young age from this awful disease, to deciding to incorporate giving back into the mission of Frankie’s, giving back is always central in my decision making. Why? I guess its just part of what makes me tick and it makes me happy!
Do you have a female role model? If yes, what have you learned from her?
My daughters Frankie and Nina and my stepdaughter Marissa – they’re all super strong, interesting young women who I learn something from every day! And of course my Mom – you can do anything when you know your Mom has your back no matter what!
I LOVE the mission and work of My Favorite Outfit! I can’t wait to see all the wonderful things you will accomplish!