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Shop Talk: Faye Wetzel of Faye’s

BY JOAN ELOVITZ KAZAN
PHOTOS BY DAVID SZYMANSKI

Oct. 2018

Faye Wetzel is one of those women who just radiates a stylish confidence. From her close-cropped silver hair to her always-impeccable outfit and carefully selected accessories, Wetzel brings to mind the chicness of Meryl Streep’s Miranda Priestly in “The Devil Wears Prada,” but with a distinctly Midwestern warmth.

Wetzel’s boutiques in Mequon and Brookfield, both aptly named Faye’s, are go-to shopping destinations for well-dressed women in metro Milwaukee and beyond. With 27 years in the fashion business, Wetzel shares her sartorial secrets with MKE Lifestyle.
 

How did you get started in the fashion business?

I worked in the advertising agency world for 20 years. I was in the account service end of the business. I decided if I was going to work that hard, I was going to do it for myself. I did a marketing plan for myself on what I thought I could be good at and what the market needed. What came out of that was a women’s clothing store and a health club. The women’s clothing store took less capital than the health club and there you go! I opened the first Faye’s in Mequon in 1991.
 

Did you grow up loving fashion?

I was born and raised in North Dakota, and I lived in Minnesota. I’ve been in Milwaukee since 1983. I was not this person who was extremely interested in fashion, nor did I think I would have a clothing store. My real passion is the business of the business. I like the back of the house; I like to know what makes things work. Am I glad now that I’m in this business? Absolutely. It keeps me young and it’s fun. It’s 90 percent not glamorous. But that 10 percent that’s glamorous is GLAMOROUS. 
 

What excites you most about fashion?

Helping women with their self-esteem. Very shortly after opening the doors, I realized I was not in the clothing business, I was in the self-esteem biz. We have some women - a small part of our customer base - that are high-powered career women. Some of these women would not make a move without us. They say, “I want to look fabulous. What should I do?” Clothes are our armor. If we’re ‘well suited,’ it’s half the battle.



You have stores in Mequon and Brookfield. Do you see differences in how women approach fashion in these two parts of the city?

There’s a huge difference. It’s like Mequon is New York and Brookfield is Los Angeles. Brookfield is a little younger, a little sexier. Mequon is a little more sophisticated.
 

What would you like women in Milwaukee to keep in mind when it comes to fashion and shopping?

Milwaukee has a little bit of a chip on our shoulder, because we live in the shadow of Chicago. But we at Faye’s absolutely do our homework. Here in Milwaukee we have a selection that is every bit as good as Chicago.
 

What advice would you give all women who want to look their best when they leave the house?

If you think you look good, you do. You can have $10,000 worth of clothes or jewelry on your body, and if you feel insecure, it’s gonna show. You can have a $29 necklace and a pair of jeans and a T-shirt and if you think you’re all that, you probably are.

Visit Faye’s: Locations in East Towne Square Mall and Galleria West Shopping Center, (262) 241-8386 or (262) 432-0070, www.fayes123.com

 

This story ran in the Oct. 2018 issue of: