Wilmington native Liza Fragomele returned home from New York City to open fashion boutique Trudy
It’s not easy being a 28-year-old female entrepreneur, but Liza Fragomele is fortunate. With support from her parents and immediate family, a lifelong dream is taking shape in the form of her new clothing boutique, Trudy, located at 1801 Delaware Ave. in Trolley Square at the site of a former consignment shop, Déjà Vu.
The Wilmington native and Tatnall School graduate got her start in the fashion world in New York City’s SoHo, where for six years she interned and then worked at Beth Buccini’s luxury women’s boutique, Kirna Zabête. She eventually became a buyer, which gave her the privilege of curating the store’s selection and traveling to Paris and Milan every year.
Despite her love for New York, Fragomele missed the slower-paced, “small town” feel of Wilmington—and most of all, she missed her family. She moved back home to Trolley Square two years ago and shortly thereafter she and her parents began brainstorming. When they heard that the Déjà Vu space was going to be available, it gave them an idea.
“This space here at the shop is what started the whole project,” says Fragomele. “My parents were working on this very closely with me and said, ‘That would be a perfect place for a boutique.’ I didn’t really see the vision for it at first because of all the work that would have to go into it. But I was like, ‘All right, I’m going to do this.’”
Flash forward to March 15, and a small group of friends and family—including her parents, two sisters and a brother—are gathered in the open, naturally-lit space for a ribbon-cutting helmed by Fragomele’s uncle, Mayor Mike Purzycki. Guests mingle amid clothing pieces from brands like Mother, GRLFRND, Ganni and Misa.
As a tribute to “the amazing figure in my life,” Fragomele says, Trudy was named after her mother.
Challenges of running the shop have come in many forms, and one of the biggest is Fragomele’s transition from buying for the high-end luxury designer to shifting gears to a different demographic, she says.
“It’s a learning curve in terms of price point and size, and the kind of style the client will wear,” she says. “Here it’s a lot of mainstream denim, a lot of t-shirts and sweaters, because that’s the reality of the women in this town.”
Fragomele’s current selection includes some dresses for a night out and smaller niche brands that she says may be unfamiliar to shoppers.
“I wanted to give people things that they’re comfortable with but also test the water a little bit with more fashion-forward pieces,” she says. “I realized quickly that there are a lot of women here that aren’t afraid to take a risk.”
Connections from Fragomele’s last job have been helpful as she segues into her new role.
“It was amazing because brands I was interested in buying were totally opened to selling to me,” she says. “They trusted my background and that was really exciting.”
She anticipates buying will require up to four annual trips to New York City, where she does most of her selecting. She and her mother will make the journey, then she’ll come back to Wilmington where she can walk half a block from home to her store and fill it with things she loves, she says.
And for now, this routine thrills her.
“I lived my entire life focused too much on what’s next, and I’m trying so hard to focus on every day here, making sure the clients are happy. I’m trying to totally live in the moment,” Fragomele says. “To me, that’s how I’m going to be successful—just focus on today and what the customer wants.”