By Gary Haber
York Daily Record, Pa.
The summer after earning a college degree, most newly minted grads spend their time getting ready to head off to graduate school or hunting for a job.
Not Zarah Brooks.
Two months after graduating from York College in May with a public relations degree, the 23-year-old Manchester Township resident opened her own business — a women’s clothing boutique in downtown York.
With its wood floors, loose-fitting, bohemian clothes and industrial feel — the dresses and tops hang from metal pipes affixed to the walls — Indigo Bleu could be just at home in New York’s Soho district as it is on York’s increasingly hip West Philadelphia Street.
“I wanted the store to feel comfortable and approachable,” said Brooks, who opened Indigo Bleu on July 12. The store is across from Central Market.
Brooks scoured architectural salvage shops in Baltimore and York for finds like the vintage radiator cover she uses as a counter.
She and her father, Steve Brooks, refurbished the 700-square-foot space themselves, down to building the dressing rooms.
And Brooks handpicked the collection which includes clothes from some of her favorite designers like Los Angeles-based Sweet Rain and THML Clothing.
“A lot of it is based off my personal style,” she said.
The clothes, geared to women 25 to 50, sell for between $15 and $75. A peach mono B print dress, for example, goes for $42.
Even as a kid, Brooks knew how to put together an outfit, her mother said.
“She’s always been a fashion person,” said Paige Brooks, 52, a nuclear medicine technologist at Pinnacle Health in Harrisburg. “She didn’t just go to school in sweats. She always dressed nicely.”
Indigo Bleu’s opening comes as downtown York continues to turn into a hub for women’s clothing boutiques. Redeux, where vendors sell vintage clothes, among other items, opened in June on South Duke Street. And Elizabeth & West Fashion House on North Beaver Street had its grand opening in May.
Instead of them worrying about another competitor joining the neighborhood, Brooks has been welcomed by fellow boutique owners like Melissa Grove, the owner of Sweet Melissa’s on North Beaver Street. The two met years ago when Brooks first started shopping there.
“I think she’s going to do great,” Grove said. “She’s got the personality. She’s got a good eye, and she likes clothing.”
Grove, who will celebrate her 15th year in business in August, provided lots of advice and encouragement as Brooks was developing her plans for the store.
That includes steering Brooks off the idea of possibly opening her store in Lancaster, instead of York. Grove set the York County resident straight on that point.
“Put the brakes on, kiddo,” Grove told her. “You need to support your own city.”
For Brooks, opening the store is not some short-term diversion before heading off to business school in a few years.
Eventually, she’d like to expand Indigo Bleu to bigger cities, including Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.
“I want to open more stores,” she said. “This is a great starter.”