Clothing designer Jennifer Butler has made a move that some business people might think is unusual: She has moved her fashion shop from a downtown Post Road address to the Sportsplex off Mill Plain Road. But being surrounded by gyms and yoga studios isn't a problem for the high-fashion businesswoman -- it's a plus, Butler said.
"The light is beautiful, the space is great and I could carve out the size I needed," she said from her third-floor fashion studio in the Sportsplex, 85 Mill Plain Road. "In downtown Fairfield the rents are astronomical," she said.
Jennifer Butler is not the only non-sports enterprise at the former industrial site. There is another clothing designer, a gourmet market, a vegan juice bar, an art studio, a tutoring business and a screen printing and embroidery enterprise among the 23 businesses there, according to Tamara Guarino, director of the Sportsplex.
Butler has helped bring a creative side to the complex, Guarino said. This summer, Sportsplex hosted the Creative Camp, a camp where children worked with Butler on fashion design, on artwork in the complex's art studio called The Studio, and took cooking classes at Cinch Gourmet Meals, also on the Sportsplex campus.
In addition to finding the space she liked, Butler said that she had wanted to transition the format of her business away from retail. "Managing a retail store is a job unto itself," she said. Now, instead of the store taking almost 24/7 management, she sees her clients by appointment in her studio, which is how her business had evolved recently anyway, she said.
Butler enjoys the person-to-person contact when she designs clothing for her customers, mostly women, and the new location really hasn't changed how she does things. "The business is operating still the same way," she said.
Butler has been in the fashion business for 30 years, with shops previously in New Haven, and in a home studio for about 16 years after that. She moved to her shop on Post Road in Fairfield seven years ago, moving to the Sportsplex this year on June 1.
As in previous years, she will present her fall collection in a runway fashion show at 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 3. Only this time in keeping with her new location, the full runway show will be in the Field House at Sportsplex. The show will include samples from her collection for women, men and girls. As before, Butler will donate proceeds of the show to the Fairfield Public Library.
Raising money for the library is close to her heart. "Lots of people think that they'll always be able to walk into the library every day, but that's not necessarily true," said Butler, a member of the Friends of the Fairfield Public Library. Supporting the library should be a community effort, she said.
And even though Butler said she misses her proximity to the library in her former shop's Post Road location, but otherwise, she is completely satisfied with her move.
Tickets for Jennifer Butler's fall collection show are $50. Wine and hors d'oeuvres will be served. To reserve a seat, call 203-256-5768 or e-mail email@example.com.