Valerie Joseph, founder, POSH’d
Ethereal sundresses, embellished bomber jackets and breezy, on-trend wrap dresses pack the racks at POSH’d boutique like a well-stuffed closet from a modern gal’s dreams. Amid displays of glitzy statement baubles, stylish coffee table books and cheeky stationery, owner Valerie Joseph is looking chic as can be in her many roles as buyer, sales manager and everything in between, greeting shoppers and eagerly running ball-gown skirts and crystal-studded crop tops to a customer in the dressing room. It’s prom season, and the customer in question is looking for an ensemble that will blow her besties away.
She came to the right place. Before long, the prom-goer is sent on her way clutching a dramatic cerulean two-piece number and beaming from ear to ear.
Joseph’s aggressive, people-oriented approach and unique combination of passion, talent and trendspotting abilities have set her brand apart from the many cookie-cutter shops out there. That and her solid decade of experience in the industry doing everything from merchandising to sales to management.
Her affinity for fashion started young. “I used to make my own clothes,” Joseph says, reminiscing about past creations made of paper and Scotch tape. “I would not do my homework at night and stay up to make a new outfit to wear to school the next day because I didn’t want to wear what everyone else was wearing.”
After high school, she dove into the retail business, starting at a boutique in Ala Moana Center and moving from company to company over the next decade. After her employer went out of business, Joseph found herself at a crossroads. She had an unlikely “aha” moment while interviewing for a prestigious, well-paying position at a big company. For Joseph, it was a wake-up call and a chance to make a decision: keep doing what she’s always done or take a leap of faith and jump-start her own passion project. She called her husband after the interview and told him, “We’re opening a boutique.”
She never once looked back. “I’d found what I wanted,” Joseph says. “I was so passionate about creating my own, where I could really deliver something different to the marketplace.”
Joseph already knew how to buy, how to build out a space and how to manage a business. From there it was about pure motivation and dedication, and she had that in spades. She planned her first buying trips by day and doodled store layouts on dinner napkins by night. Her husband, a fellow business owner, brought in his expertise and found the venue, allowing Joseph to truly let her creative juices flow.
In the decade since, the store has snagged numerous “best of” mentions in local magazines, moved to a bigger space and joined the coveted lineup at Ala Moana Center. But Joseph was getting antsy. It was time for something new, something for the modern, career-oriented woman who appreciates good style and good taste. Enter POSH’d.
People are still at the core of her business. This, of course, starts with a well-curated team but ultimately revolves around the customer and the community. “I love working with customers,” Joseph says. “I love the energy when I feel we can create together, and it’s so satisfying to me when I can transform them into something that makes them feel good and look good.”
Joseph relies on a tried-and-true formula she calls “the science” to help her do that. It’s her rule of thumb for finding the silhouette and color family that will help a women look her best. Joseph isn’t looking to mold women into a carbon copy of the latest trends. She wants to celebrate what drives her customer on the inside and enhance her best features, regardless of age, body shape or style. It takes work, patience and dedication, but it’s been absolutely key to the POSH’d model since day one.
“I thought that, number one, we needed to make sure we treat everyone like we are their personal shopper,” Joseph says, citing high-end retail stores such as Neiman Marcus as her inspiration. For Joseph, bringing that luxurious experience to every woman just made sense. “Normally, you need to have a lot of money to get a personal shopper,” Joseph says. “I didn’t understand that. That’s something I want to make sure we maintain and really push hard in our boutique—our service.”
For Joseph, service goes far beyond the cash wrap. Not only does Joseph lead branding workshops for fellow entrepreneurs and provide internships for eager high school or college students, she also hosts Fresh, an annual fashion event that raises funds for community organizations like Community Helping Schools.
“Because I’m a product of public school and never went to college, I feel it’s really important to give back to the community,” Joseph says. “Growing up, I felt I had to really prove my worth. I could feel that struggle. I want to make sure that in everything we do at the boutique, we are always working with the community and thinking how we can support it.”