Fira is nearing its one-year anniversary, which will be on October 24th. However, Fira has been around since 2011 when owner Anna Ragle started a traveling boutique. With three clothing racks, Ragle did pop-up shows for sorority houses at the University and Eastern Illinois University as well as house parties for locals in the C-U community.
Fira has come a long way since then. After only one year of having a storefront, Fira and its employees seem to have the hang of the biz. The boutique is actively on the grid with a Facebook page, mainly used for sales and promotions, and an Instagram account, which focuses on the Fira lifestyle, or “a day in the life of someone who works here,” Ragle said.
Aside from Ragle, all Fira’s employees are students. One student model actually makes the drive from Indiana to Urbana because she enjoys the job and the store so much.
“We love our store; the way it looks, the way it feels, the way it smells. It’s just a homey environment,” Ragle said.
Homey is more than an appropriate description. Its soft lighting and color scheme is almost as relaxing as the couch that sits right in the middle of the store. Each of the three dressing rooms has a gold-framed, empowerment quote, like “To all the ladies in the place with style and grace” and “People will stare. Make it worth their while.”
Like any good outfit, the store is put together well. It is spacious with not a single thing out of place, but not in the scared-to-touch-anything way. Candles, chocolates, friendly faces and music make you feel, well, right at home. “We love Motown music. We try to play upbeat tunes and things that students will like and parents will like, you know, people of all ages,” Ragle said.
The boutique also stays active on the event scene. Mimosas, muffins, and free block I scarves with any $50 purchase were available at its “Tailgate Time at Fira” event for the Saturday, September 27th, Illini away game. Ragle plans to have more tailgating events for away games. Stella & Dot, specializing in boutique-style jewelry and accessories, also made a recent appearance at the boutique.
Despite any notions one might have about boutiques, Fira has a wide variety of customers and prides itself on convenience and service. “For us, it’s mostly about customer service and creating a friendly atmosphere for people to shop in. We definitely try to take care of our customers when they’re in here.”
Fira’s location at 700 S. Gregory St. (Gregory Place) may have a lot to do with its wide variety of customers, aside from the trendy and affordable clothes. With sorority houses, Krannert Center, freshman dorms and the band building within walking distance, Fira gets students from all walks of the University. Ragle also adds that it gets a lot of locals because of the great parking.
Despite Fira’s accessibility, it is still a boutique clothing store. “We only get in about six of each piece,” Ragle said, “so it’s more specialized, which means you do have to act fast.” Ragle is able to special order certain items, like number-one sellers.
“The price point is catered to students all the way up to a young mom,” Ragle said. “We are carrying some premium denim this year, which is a little higher, but I feel if there’s one thing that I would spend money on, it’s a really nice pair of jeans.” And she’s not alone there.
If you’re in the market for a trendy piece or just a welcoming atmosphere, stop by Fira soon.
Photos courtesy of Sam Logan.