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What We Wore | Heather Rosenfield and Jenny Belushi

 

Heather Rosenfield and Jenny Belushi are the co-creators of Poppy Store, an enchanting children’s boutique in California. I was inspired by their tale of partnership and why being a children’s retailer is truly joyous.

 

 

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Laura Vinroot Poole:

Heather and Jenny, I'm so glad to have y'all here. Do you remember when we met? Maybe I guess when we opened the store?

 

Heather Rosenfield:

We met a few months before at Farm Shop. We had a little lunch together. And I remember meeting you and giving you a hug right away and thinking you were... You were just so warm and you had really cute clogs on. I remember that too.

 

Laura Vinroot Poole:

I want the listeners to hear more about y'all. Jenny, where are you from?

 

Jenny Belushi:

I'm from Beverly Hills. I've been an LA girl my whole life, pretty much other than college, for four years in Arizona. And I've worked at probably every retail store in all of Los Angeles since I was 14. I started at Benetton.

 

Laura Vinroot Poole:

Oh, my gosh. I loved hiring people from Benetton, because they were the best folders.

 

Jenny Belushi:

Yes, the best folders. And I'm good sweeper because they didn't let me do much because I was young. But I just wanted to be in, I wanted that energy, that retail.

 

Laura Vinroot Poole:

What's your first fashion memory?

 

Jenny Belushi:

My first fashion memory… my mom... I mean, my mom was the chicest. Yves Saint Laurant blouses with the little tie. She was always wore slacks, and always going to New York to shop.

 

Laura Vinroot Poole:

What's one experience from your younger years that has shaped your adult life?

 

Jenny Belushi:

I think living in Florence probably for six months when I went overseas, and just seeing another culture. It was during college. But not with a lot of friends and just... That was eye opening and traveling around Europe.

 

Laura Vinroot Poole:

And it's so funny that you say that, because I did the same thing and I lived in Florence also. And I remember thinking about how did we even, if we traveled to Venice for a couple nights. How did we figure out where we were staying? There's no internet.

 

Jenny Belushi:

Stars. You just look at the stars.

 

Laura Vinroot Poole:

So were you into fashion then?

 

Jenny Belushi:

Always. I've always been into fashion. My whole life. I mean, I am the same way. I fall in love with something and I get it in four colors.

 

Laura Vinroot Poole:

Do you do it yourself or does somebody help you with your closet? Does Heather help you?

 

Jenny Belushi:

I often call Heather for fashion advice and we always check in with eachother. Are we wearing jeans? Are we wearing dresses today?

 

Heather Rosenfield:

We're the best shoppers, because we're opposite. We really like similar things. But then what we end up buying... We're talking about high heels and flat. Or blouses... High neck and lower neck. We're very complimentary, but not the same.

 

Laura Vinroot Poole:

And Heather you're a California girl?

 

Heather Rosenfield:

I am, Northern California. I was raised in a really small town in Napa Valley on a pretty big piece of property. Big... We had horses and orchards, and vineyards and not a lot of fashion.

 

Laura Vinroot Poole:

So how'd you get into fashion?

 

Heather Rosenfield:

I always loved it. My mother really loved the quality of things. She was also a Francophile. She had a deep appreciation for beautiful things. And I think for me growing up in a natural environment too, so I had an appreciation for beauty and then, Guess opened up in San Francisco. So I think I did always love fashion. My sisters were into sports or into other things, and I really did love shopping.

 

Laura Vinroot Poole:

Is there one experience from your younger years, Heather, that shaped your adult life?

 

Heather Rosenfield:

If I think about work life, what influenced me, I think probably travel. Travel was a very high priority in our family. We traveled from a really young age. My Dad was always taking us to Europe, Central America, everywhere. I was in Fiji…

 

Laura Vinroot Poole:

With your whole family?

 

Heather Rosenfield:

We were scuba diving. So it was on a boat for two weeks and it was just with my stepmother, and stepbrothers. And we were in... We had been on the boat for about five days. In the middle of the night we ran into a reef, and it was a big... It was a very big boat and hours later, a day later, the Coast Guard finally... The Fijian Coast Guard finally was able to get there, by helicopters. And I was the first to be airlifted, because I was the youngest on the boat.

 

Laura Vinroot Poole:

How old were you?

 

Heather Rosenfield:

I was 14. It was a storm. It's like in the movies, where they actually lift you off the boat-... you're in a harness. And there was a complication with it. So I hit into the boat, and then I got into the helicopter and they said, "We can't take anymore, because we've never done this before." And they brought me to the closest island, which was about an hour away by helicopter and they dropped me and they said, "We will come back." And they didn't come back. I was there for five days.

 

Laura Vinroot Poole:

So what did you?

 

Heather Rosenfield:

I think eventually what I realized, they celebrated me. They were as kind, they were incredible. They were kind. They wanted me to go to school. I was still in my wetsuit. I was obviously in shock and I realized that nobody was coming back. And so there was a little airstrip, and I went when the mail plane was coming, and I got a ride to Suva, to the Capital. And I arrived at the Suva airport on the landing strip, still in my wetsuit, someone from the Consulate came and met me and I stayed at their house for three days on the couch.

 

Jenny Belushi:

No. I actually have to add to this because she's great to travel with and probably because of the story. Because, and a friend of mine, our mutual friend, calls her Valium. Human Valium, because she really is... You want to be sitting next to her when you're on a plane, because she's... It's going to be okay.

 

Heather Rosenfield:

Jim would say, "She is not human Valium. I get to see her lose her mind."

 

Laura Vinroot Poole:

Have you changed the way you travel? Or the way you look at every situation.

 

Heather Rosenfield:

An incredible thing my dad actually had us do the next Summer is, he put us on another boat. It was actually in Indonesia and that's just who he is. And he said, "It's going to be fine." And so I faced that fear. But I think more than anything that experience, whether traumatized or therapy, I think it just gave me a huge amount of perspective. That in my best moments I'm able to have. Instead of getting too caught up in things, taking a breath and it'll be okay, we can handle anything. My dad valued going through life with grace and facing adversity with grace.

 

Laura Vinroot Poole:

Wow. Jenny, what did you do professionally before Poppy, after Benetton?

 

Jenny Belushi:

I had got a degree in art history and I didn't use it. I came back to LA, and went right into production because that's what everyone does here. I started as a receptionist and I was really good at it. They really wanted to keep me there for a long time, but I needed to move on from here. I just had this itch to go back to retail.

 

Laura Vinroot Poole:

What part of production did you not like? It was just that it was probably pretty insular?

 

Jenny Belushi:

I realized that it was really political of who gets the part, and why, and the studio and I just... I didn't like the process. I started at the lowest point and I just saw it all happen in front of me.

 

Laura Vinroot Poole:

And what about you, Heather?

 

Heather Rosenfield:

did interior design right out of college. And then when I had my first child, when I was basically a baby, I realized that it was a lot of being in other people's houses and worlds. I wanted something that I could do that I could have more control over. I had a boy, I was really happy to have a boy, but I was a little, the only thing I was disappointed about was the clothing, lack of selection. And my mother-in-law at the time was an incredible cashmere knitter. She created the most beautiful knitting. So I started just with cashmere.

 

Laura Vinroot Poole:

And then how did y'all meet?

 

Jenny Belushi:

Our mutual friend said we're going to sit down and have a business meeting, and really talk about this. She said “This is not just friends, I want to you guys to meet each other”.

 

Heather Rosenfield:

It was amazing, because I think what thought she saw... Two friends, her two dear friends, and she saw that we were very different with complimentary skills. I think that your love of personal relationships and trunk shows, and being the best hostess and having this relationship, all these brands. And then with me, I was always in the back, making things. And it was about the production and things and the beauty, but I wasn't as comfortable in the front of house. And I think that, was... She thought how well we would do together as partners. I think with everything that Jenny and I do… because we're both really respectful of each other, and we take time to process things and we don't do anything unless it feels very right.

 

Jenny Belushi:

That's true. It was great, because when we did... We decide to do this together. First, we were going to design. That was our idea. And then the Brentwood Country Mart space became available.

 

Jenny Belushi:

Heather has a great design sense. I mean, we got on a plane and went to Florence and we went to the shows and we figured out what we wanted in the store and we curated it together. And I'm a little funkier and she's a little bit more classic. And I think our mix together just... It just, it worked.

 

Laura Vinroot Poole:

Was it clear right away that you complimented each other as business partners? Because that part's really hard.

 

Heather Rosenfield:

I think we've always had our roles that we're strong at and compliment each other. We've honestly never had anything where we, overlap too much. Because, I think we just have a really a great comfort. I mean, Jenny is the retail front of house, customer relationships. And that's what I'm not as comfortable with. I'm really interested in the editing. I'm really interested in the design, I'm interested... And I think it just compliments very well.

 

Laura Vinroot Poole:

How long until you opened your second location?

 

Jenny Belushi:

The second one opened in 2011.

 

Heather Rosenfield:

It was pretty organic as well because I was moving, and it made sense.

 

Laura Vinroot Poole:

What was that like to work remotely or to be apart? I mean, how often did y'all see each other?

 

Heather Rosenfield:

We had to learn.

 

Jenny Belushi:

That was hard to not be in the office together every day. That was hard one for me.

 

Heather Rosenfield:

We would drop the kids off at school and we were... Would arrive at that office at nine, and we would have our coffee and we would sit and talk about the day and I would get to work. You would go down to the store and do the work. Then we would start talking about what we were going to have for lunch, little bit later. We really had to learn skills to be partners that weren't two feet away from each other.

 

Laura Vinroot Poole:

I never asked this. Why Poppy?

 

Jenny Belushi:

You'd think it was a more interesting story, but it's really not. We were actually driving on Sunset. I know exactly the moment we were just passing like Barrington. And we were like... It should be a flower. It should be a flower like Poppy. And it was Poppy, Poppy Store. And we just liked the way it rolled off. That was it.

 

Heather Rosenfield:

We knew it would be a flower. A flower that could also be a name. My first line was Clementine in the same, and I think we became... Well, you had a girl that you got to name, but I have four boys. So I have lists of girl names and I mean, it was... And the funny thing is now with Poppy, there's probably five Poppy's, that come in to the store.

 

Laura Vinroot Poole:

Can you tell me what you're most grateful for to the community around The Country Mart?

 

Jenny Belushi:

I would just have to say our very loyal customers. We have to do a lot of re-merchandising. I mean, they come every day. They come for lunch and they bring their kids and they shop and they want us to be there. During COVID, they were calling and we would do FaceTime and they were just super loyal. So I would say that I'm grateful for that.

 

Heather Rosenfield:

I would say the same and I would say, I mean, and we also have an incredible community at The Country Mart, which is everyone that works there. That really is our family. Jenny has her secret parking spots and we have the special person to make the iced tea. I mean it's incredible. It really is incredible. And it is a family. It's such a special place.

 

Laura Vinroot Poole:

Your own families and children stand out to me as focal points in your lives and not just your business. Jenny, will you share more about your big family in LA and the sense of belonging that it's given you?

 

Jenny Belushi:

I have a huge family here. We're constantly getting together and most Sundays for family dinners. My mom usually hosts them, and I've just, I've always felt a sense of belonging, just because I have so many family members here. People say that I'm kind of like the Mayor of Brentwood. They laugh at me, because when I go to The Country Mart... I can't have lunch. I cannot have lunch there, because I'm usually talking to people as they're walking by.

 

Laura Vinroot Poole:

But like you said too... You've been coming since you were 13 years old?

 

Jenny Belushi:

I have a lot of friends in LA and I'm I love them. My friends are my family too.

 

Heather Rosenfield:

You're the best representation of LA too, because she'll always know... I didn't know how to drive in LA when I came. I had no idea how. And Jenny would be... Oh no. You just have to take this street to this street, to this street. Or if you want the chopped salad, this is where you go. But if you want the turkey sandwich, you go here.

 

Heather Rosenfield:

It's just, and you've always been so free with those... sharings. It's incredible.

 

Laura Vinroot Poole:

And Heather, what about you? And I want to hear about how you met your husband, Jim.

 

Heather Rosenfield:

I had no family in LA when I did move to LA. That’s how I met my best friend... Reese, who introduced us and we were neighbors. I left college early, dropped out, to move to Beverly Hills and we lived next door to each other. I was incredibly lonely besides knowing her. I didn't know anybody. And it ended up that the only place that I would go was The Country Mart.

 

Laura Vinroot Poole:

Really?

 

Heather Rosenfield:

Because it felt to me like my hometown. And there was a post office and it wasn't exactly what it is now. It was just starting to change, but I knew how to get there and I didn't have to take many left-hand turns at all, which was helpful, because I was terrified of driving. When I wasn't working, I would just go there and it just felt familiar and it felt like home. One day I pulled in and this guy said, very loudly “Welcome to the Brentwood Country Mart!”. He had his three valet parkers, all standing there, and then they all said, "Welcome." I just looked and I thought it was so strange. And I was trying to get quickly to Santa before he left. Jim introduced himself and offered to carry the bags. I was a customer driving up and that is how we first time we met.

 

Laura Vinroot Poole:

What do you think your children think about what you do? Do you think they recognize all the work that y'all put into this, and what it means to you?

 

Jenny Belushi:

It's interesting. I think my kids didn't really get it. I mean, I think they love coming in the store and getting the candy and bringing their friends to get candy. I think that was a big plus for them. I brought Jamie, my daughter to Paris once with us. She was on the ground there working. She was taking photos. She was doing everything, because then we did the photos and we don't do it as much anymore, but because everybody sends you the photos of everything. But she worked hard and she would come home at the end of the day from... And she said, "Mom, you work your butt off." And I was... I know.

 

Heather Rosenfield:

My kids have always come to work. I mean, from the very beginning they would end up at Poppy and the little ones running around, and be in the office. And I think they've always... They've only known me working and they've also known how much I love my work. But I'm also married to someone who really loves his work. There's no difference between work and life... It's all one. I'm fortunate to be able to work and do what I love. And I hope to show that to my kids.

 

Laura Vinroot Poole:

Did your mom work or did your stepmom work?

 

Heather Rosenfield:

My mom did work. She was a French teacher, but then when we moved to Napa Valley. There was no teaching job there, but she ended up giving winery tours in French.

 

Laura Vinroot Poole:

If you could describe each other in a few words, what would you say?

 

Jenny Belushi:

She is super calm and an amazing friend. Incredible the way you can just look at colors and know how to use it. It’s just so impressive to me, how clearly you see things. And I think you're a great business woman. I look to her sometimes to deal with most of the operations, because she just is very clear about it.

 

Laura Vinroot Poole:

How about you, Heather? What about Jenny?

 

Heather Rosenfield:

Jenny is the most generous and the most kind and the most loving. To have her as a friend, you are lucky for life and every single one of your friends feels that way.

 

Laura Vinroot Poole:

Very important question for you both. What did you wear to prom?

 

Heather Rosenfield:

Okay. You, you have to go first, because I don't know. That's one thing I don't know about you.

 

Jenny Belushi:

So there was this store on Melrose. And it was during the ‘80s. And there was this one store and it had these wrap dresses, and they were strapless, I chose iridescent white. It was very was like a cotton, it was a thick material. So it wasn't cheesy fabric at all.

 

Laura Vinroot Poole:

That's sounds actually really cool.

 

Jenny Belushi:

It was very cool. And I told one girl where I got it. One girl. And guess what? When I got to the prom, everybody... Every single person was wearing my dress. In a different color, not everyone. But no one had the white iridescent, thank goodness.

 

Laura Vinroot Poole:

And, Heather, what about your prom dress?

 

Heather Rosenfield:

But it was long black, very form fitting, Nicole Miller. Solid. So boring.

 

Laura Vinroot Poole:

No. Sophisticated, classic.

 

Laura Vinroot Poole:

Thank you y'all so much. Really means the world for you to sit down with me and spend the time with me. I appreciate it.

 

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