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Other Smith entrepreneurs:

Melissa Krueger ’03J, owner, Elbow Room Café

Rachel Imhof ’10, owner, 410 BC t-shirts

Smith Entrepreneurs

A series about Smith women competing in the business world.

A Woman in Men’s Clothes

For Tara Tetreault ’01, men’s clothing is the right fit.

With more than 12 years of experience selling men’s garb, the 28-year-old Northampton native recently opened her own store, Jackson & Connor, a men’s apparel boutique on the second floor of Thornes Market in the downtown business district.

“I really enjoy building the business relationship with men,” said Tetreault recently during an interview outside her store. “Men are loyal customers, they’re creatures of habit and don’t shop as much as women. If they have a good experience in my store, they’ll be back. I’m happy to be in men’s clothing.”

Tetreault celebrated the grand opening of her store in March. Jackson & Connor sells contemporary fashions for both casual and business occasions, for men aged 25 to 55, in a range of prices. Clothing lines include Jhane Barnes, Nat Nast, Agave Alex Cannon, and Robert Graham. 

Tetreault opened the shop with her business partner, Candace Connors, with whom she worked for several years at Taylor Men, a popular and long-standing men’s clothing boutique that previously occupied the Jackson & Connor space. (“Jackson,” Tetreault’s eponym, and “Connor” represent both women’s “boy names,” noted Tetreault.)

Between her retail experience and her Smith coursework in government and anthropology, owning and operating her own shop is a natural fit for Tetreault, who started selling men’s clothes at age 16 as a sales associate for Taylor Men.

“This business is fundamentally about understanding and developing relationships,” said Tetreault. “Being able to deal with a lot of different kinds of people is such a necessary skill. You can’t teach that, but studying governing bodies and who they govern and what effects it has on the greater population has parallels to retail and understanding human beings in the social context.”

After graduating from Smith, Tetreault graduated through the retail ranks, becoming director of promotion, then manager, district manager and regional manager for Taylor Men. She then left that company for BJD Inc., a California men’s apparel company, as an account executive, and most recently worked for retailer Rock ‘n’ Roll Alliance, based in Anaheim, Calif.

One service that distinguishes Jackson & Connor from other boutiques is what Tetreault calls personal shopping: she or Connors will come to their established customers, by appointment, with an assortment of possible clothing items, to specifically meet their needs, whether it be a date that evening or an important dinner with a client.

“I know of no other shop locally that offers that type of service,” she said. She’s also considering coordinating a fashion show for local clothing merchants, and she and Connors have joined the Chamber of Commerce, Northampton Area Young Business Professionals, and the Women Business Owners Alliance of Western Mass.

For Tetreault, it’s important to actively participate as a member of the local business community. “It’s not just about the store, but also about relating to people in the area—being part of the community.” Toward that end, she purchased display items for her store from local merchants Yale Genton and Just Because upon their closing, and carries jewelry lines and t-shirts designed by local artists.

Owning and operating a men’s clothing boutique is only one stop on her life journey, Tetreault emphasized. She had hoped to be a pediatrician when she entered Smith, she recalled, and plans to tackle many other pursuits, such as, perhaps, joining the Peace Corps, teaching yoga, running a bed & breakfast, and guiding outdoor adventures.

“I still don’t know what I want to be,” she said.

5/1/08   Eric Sean Weld
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