Laure Heriard Dubreuil, Frederic Dechnik, and Milan Vukmirovic opened Miami concept shop The Webster in 2009 to much fanfare. After all, Dubreuil and Dechnik were YSL alums and Vukmirovic helped found Colette.
Luckily for them–and us–their abilities far exceeded the impressiveness of their resumes. The Webster is now a go-to destination in Miami, much like Colette is in Paris or Opening Ceremony is in New York. And with that credibility comes the ability to expand your brand. The first step is an e-commerce site, which launched this month.
We recently met up with Dubreuil at Payard’s new downtown Manhattan location to chat about the web, why Miami is a great place for jet setters to…settle, and what’s next for her and her partners.
Fashionista: I know a big part of your approach at The Webster has to do with buying things that you would actually want to wear or have yourself, instead of buying what you think might sell. Can you talk about that?
Laure Heriard Dubreuil: Yes! We do the buy as much as possible together, so we can maintain the point of the view. I think the men’s part is really what Milan and Frederick would wear and the women’s part is very much what I would wear, there is also this mix of us being French and the fashion background that we have and the different brands we worked with…but also the fact that we are in Miami and we come to New York a lot. It’s true being in Miami we are attracted to colors a lot more than if we were in New York all the time. Or if we’re in Paris. I think in Paris even more so, you know? But in Miami, there’s the light, the sun…you want to wear colors! I also buy more dresses…. because it’s not so much shopping for a wardrobe, but more about buying something that they want to wear that night. A lot of our clients are coming from Latin America, New York, and other places for the weekend, and they want a little dress to go out. People are dressed up in Miami! Maybe the fact that you don’t have to wear a coat you can enjoy your dress much more. Also, I was wearing more flats when I lived in Paris, and now in Miami I am wearing more heels. It’s definitely a sexier take on fashion. We want our clientele to feel beautiful, and live the spirit of The Webster.
It sounds like a very happy place.
It is! With our staff, we want them to be happy to come. When we unpack new items, and they are so excited, it’s incredible because we manage to transmit this love for the store.
It ends up being the kind of place where you want to spend your paycheck?
Yes, that’s how it started with me. Back when I was 16 I was a sales associate at a store in the Hamptons–it was my summer job–and I would spend all of my money inside the store!
So you’ve always liked retail?
I love retail. We can bring something positive–this past year has been so tough for everybody, it’s nice to allow yourself something little. You might not be able to go on the same vacation as you used to, or buy as many things, but just something little will lift your spirit. And that goes back to when I was a sales associate, I remember once I had a client I didn’t know before she arrived. All she wanted was a dress, but she left with five pants and a jacket. And one month after, I was at a party and a man came up to me. He said, “My girlfriend came to your store and she was very depressed, and she left the store extremely happy.” It’s strong in my memory because this is what we want to do with The Webster. If you want to try the whole store and chat with our staff the whole day, it’s very welcome.
Why did you choose Miami in particular?
Milan went to Miami for the first time to do a fashion shoot, and when he came back he told Frederic and me, “We have to do it Miami.” I knew Miami from living in New York, but Fred had never been. So we all went together and we totally fell in love. We fell in love with the historical district, the amazing architecture and of course the weather! When Frederic and I were working together at YSL it was so rainy. So that was the final straw. Okay, we’re moving to Miami.
But also it’s one of the few cities that is financially viable and on the beach. There’s Barcelona, Rio…it’s very, very rare to have an active city all year along.
Also, we love that it’s only 2.5 hours from New York.
And there are so many big events in Miami, Art Basel, swim…
Just recently there was the Food and Wine Festival, and this weekend was Ultra, the music festival.
So a lot of your clients probably don’t live in Miami. Was that part of the motivation behind launching e-commerce?
Definitely. Whether they come for a few days or they’ve never been but have established relationships with our sales associates over email or over the phone, this makes it easier for them to shop with us year long. Toronto, France, Hong Kong… we have clients everywhere.
And you’ve started a blog?
We’re just starting the blog, but what’s really been popular is our Pick of the Week. We ask our friends in fashion, art, music to pick out their favorite outfit in The Webster and do a two-minute photo shoot wearing it. We’ve had Stefano Tonchi, Cecilia Dean, Derek Blasberg, Julian David–people are so excited about it! Now we even have requests! For us, it’s really nice to see the different ways people style the clothes. It makes a difference. A lot of the people who do the pick of the week end up just buying what they’ve chosen!
So what’s next for The Webster, do you ever think about opening up shop in a different city?
We have a lot of requests–it’s definitely something we’re thinking about. Maybe we’ll first start with a pop up, try it out, and then eventually open up something more permanent. That’s what we did with The Webster. And we’re also developing our brand–we just did our candle, with packaging inspired by our vintage wallpapers, and scented like orange blossom because we love the fragrance, and also because it’s Florida. A famous nose in France who has recreated Marie Antoinette’s original scent developed it!
Visit TheWebster.com today, or 1220 Collins Avenue the next time you’re in Miami Beach.