by Jeremy Jones
Roots Inc. is an oasis on the sidewalk – a sensuous tonic for the urban sophisticate, the earthy fashionista and the active mom whose wardrobe is all about smart basics.
The atmosphere at Roots aligns your senses the moment you walk in the door. A fresh hint of coriander and lilac from Archipelago candles and Lafco essential oils gently stirs the air in an open space designed with clean, sleek contemporary lines. And as your eyes feast on the rich selection of clothing and accessories, you are drawn to touch and feel the delicious fabrics and textures. Even the patterned crew socks are a wool/cashmere blend.
Heather Stauffer is the force that created and continues to ignite this hip cosmopolitan shopping experience at 8436 Germantown Ave. She is a hard-working mother of three who fairly lives in T-shirts and jeans and yet manages to successfully live her passion for Roots.
A native of Chestnut Hill, Stauffer attended Springside School and currently lives in Wyndmoor with her husband, Win, and their sons, who all attend Chestnut Hill Academy.
In 2009, Stauffer opened Roots Inc., a home décor and accessories store, at 7946 Germantown Ave., and while preparing to move up the hill to a new location in 2011, two new home stores opened on the Avenue, so she decided it was an auspicious time to reinvent Roots.
“I didn’t want to be competing with those stores,” Stauffer said. “That’s what led me into creating a women’s apparel and accessories shop.”
Her circumstances were just the nudge she needed to follow what was inherently a natural progression, as her mother Susan Doran was co-owner of 2 Susans, a popular women’s boutique located at 8428 Germantown Ave., from 1989 to 2002. During those years, 2 Susans was Stauffer’s go-to world and the ideal proving ground for learning the retail business.
“I loved going on buying trips with my mother and Susan [Stanley],” Stauffer said. “And that’s what I love most about my work now – the buying aspect. I love finding new things and I get excited when I find something unique that sells out because people love it.
“When I opened Roots at the new location, my goal was to bring something to Chestnut Hill that was more my style and what I felt was more the style of a lot of other people – something a little more urban and trendy.”
Stauffer wants to give her customers the best of the best from the smaller, upwardly mobile designers department stores rarely carry, like Emerson Fry, a company based in New Hampshire, which Stauffer said may produce only 35 pieces a season. (Roots has their divine chunky, oversized “Yoshi” sweater in oatmeal and sapphire blue, $325.)
“Heather has a great eye,” sales associate Jennifer Hawkes said. “She is always ahead of the game. Roots is for women who want to have an edge without being too trendy.”
So let’s go shopping and check out some of Stauffer’s personal favorites.
● “cjw” scarves, $175-$275. From her studio in Brooklyn, Christina Wang applies her degree in fine arts to a range of whimsically illustrated featherweight, sumptuously soft wool scarves.
“When I ordered them,” Stauffer said, “I was really nervous because they were so expensive.” She has had to reorder them three times.
● Clogs and clog boots, $259 and $399. “They’re coming back,” Stauffer said. “What’s cool about these is they are actually made of wood like the real old-fashioned clogs.” Made in Sweden, these leather clogs come in navy, camel and black. The boots with jeans or leggings are a great look for the fall season.
● “Snowman” bolero, $188. If you research this duck-down outerwear collection the way I did, you will be all the more impressed to have Roots in your own back yard.
“I fell in love with the “Snowman” logo,” Stauffer said. You will, too.
Styles at Roots create an age-appropriate customer base, i.e., timeless. Sizes are generally 0-10 and S, M, L.
My picks: Bucket-style, hand-made leather shoulder/cross “Prado” body bag with fringing and two pyramid studs on the sides. Designed by “Clhei,” (originally based in Buenos Aires), Roots is one of only two stores in Pennsylvania to carry this bag, $390; Very Town & Country saddle-brown leather strap multi-wrap with silver loop can be worn as a necklace, bracelet or belt. Designed by Akis, $108; “Lisa B” wool/cashmere crew, over-the-knee and thigh-high socks, $26-$36.
Align your senses, optimize your accessories, go boxy or tailored – Roots Inc. is fashion’s urban playground.