TUSCOLA — From a young age, fashion played an important part of Taylor Reifsteck’s life.
When she was 9 or 10, Taylor would sketch outfits.
“I still have them at home,” she said.
Taylor’s interest as a child has turned into her life’s work. Just 24, Taylor co-owns Shimmer & Sheek Boutique in Tuscola (210 N. Main St.) with her mom, Jennifer.
Originally started as an online venture, Shimmer & Sheek became a brick-and-mortar store on Oct. 19.
Business is going well for Taylor, a 2020 Eastern Illinois University graduate in fashion merchandising and design.
While she was at Eastern, Taylor started the online business with her mom out of the family’s Tuscola home.
“She was all for it,” Taylor said. “She’s also an entrepreneur herself. Her and my dad (Tim) own storage units in Tuscola.”
Taylor kept busy the final two-and-a-half years of college, helping run the online business while also working at Maurices in Champaign and the University of Illinois golf courses.
At first, the online business was done strictly on Facebook.
The early days of the online business coincided with the early days of COVID-19.
Taylor made the decision to invest in loungewear, which was the right move. The Reifstecks made it easy for their customers.
“People couldn’t go out and shop,” Taylor said. “We have this box on my front porch. We would put people’s packages in the box, they would come and pick them up, so it was contact-less.”
In February 2021, the online business moved to a website platform. It was a hit. So, too, were several weekend pop-up shops at what became the permanent location for Shimmer & Sheek.
“A lot of people love shopping online,” Taylor said. “But a lot of people also like touching, feeling and still trying on.”
In May, the owners of the Tuscola building asked the Reifstecks if they wanted to rent the space full time.
“I was at that point where I needed to figure out what direction I wanted to go career-wise,” Taylor said. “I was like, ‘Let’s jump in and do this.’”
Taylor is happy she made the leap.
“I like being busy,” she said. “It’s fulfilling to know how much it has grown. This year, we’ve hit more than 4,000 members in our Facebook group, which is pretty big. I’m pretty proud of that.”
The customers Taylor had met previously only online are now coming into the store.
“It’s super cool to make these connections and relationships,” Taylor said.
The customers are from a wide geographic range: Decatur, Effingham, Bloomington and, of course, Tuscola.
“It’s been amazing,” Taylor said. “We’ve gotten so much support from the community. We’ve been really busy. It’s more than I expected.”
Opening just before the holiday shopping season has been a good thing for Taylor and Jennifer. They are coming off Black Friday week with Christmas just around the corner.
This season, Shimmer & Sheek is selling oodles of shackets. What’s a shacket? It’s a plaid shirt made from thicker flannel material.
“I literally cannot keep them in,” Taylor said. “We sell out every time we get them in. I’ve probably ordered over 2,000 shackets in this three-month span.”
They come in all sorts of colors and cuts. When available, the shackets sell at Shimmer & Sheek for $45 to $55.
“People love buying them for Christmas gifts because they are very easy,” Taylor said. “Size is not really an issue because they are oversized.”
Shimmer & Sheek is primarily a women’s clothing store, with sizes ranging from small to 2XL. It carries “a lot of tops,” jewelry, shoes and a small section of children’s clothing.
Taylor’s time at Maurices (she was an assistant manager) gave her valuable insight about clothing trends in the area.
“I learned a lot from that, and it’s helped me with my buying decisions,” Taylor said.”Definitely a lot of this stuff is my taste, but I also try to mix in different things, too.”
Taylor aims for a vast array of products.
“With me and my mom owning it together, we have a wide range of ages that come in,” Taylor said. “I try to find things for every target market. A lot of our stuff is very versatile in regards to age.”
Taylor purchases everything wholesale. She spends free time looking at different websites for products.
“You order in bulk quantity,” Taylor said.
The items come from the U.S. and beyond. The recent supply-chain issues have caused some headaches.
These days, Taylor and Jennifer are often at the store together. The business is open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday to Friday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. It is closed Sundays and Mondays. Mom and daughter work well together.
“It’s a great relationship,” Taylor said. “It’s really fun working with her. She’s been so supportive of me and my dream.
“It’s given her a new chapter in her book, too.”
Taylor plans to stay in the clothing business, with an eye toward growth.
“I’d love to see the online presence take on a bigger role,” Taylor said. “At some point, I would love to expand the storefront, whether it’s in Tuscola or maybe even expand out of town. I definitely have big goals. It’s not going to stop here.”