Florence native Krystina Bole selected as Billy Reid Store Director of the Year


Krystina Bole pictured with internationally - renowned clothing designer, Billy Reid

Krystina Bole pictured with internationally – renowned clothing designer, Billy Reid


FLORENCE, Ala. – “There were 13 other people going for the same award,” said internationally-renowned clothing designer, Billy Reid. “In many ways Krystina had it a lot tougher, as this is our corporate office. So more eyes were on her, and it’s our good friends and family who are the customers,” he said.
Reid is speaking about Krystina Bole, a University of North Alabama graduate who was recently selected as his Store Director of the Year, which was clearly a tough award to win. But Bole wasn’t always with Billy Reid. She, like so many others, started her journey into fashion after receiving her degree from UNA. However, her journey toward high fashion started a year later.

“A year after graduation I connected with two girls starting their own clothing line, ellelauri,” said Bole. “They were just starting out and were interested in sales reps in my area. Their brand didn’t have any other reps for the company, so my ideas were taken quickly and helped grow their company rapidly,” she said.

Bole said that in the beginning, it was kind of a baptism by fire as she was thrown into the world of fashion; but she used her knowledge from working with sales reps in the wedding industry during college. With ellelauri, Bole would travel the local area and surrounding states, booking appointments with boutique owners, collecting orders for the following season and breaking down trade shows.

One year after working for ellelauri, Bole took a trip to New York to meet the owners in person; and needless to say, they were impressed. It was during that trip that she was offered a full-time position in the Big Apple.
“Before that day I had worked so hard to get to where I wanted to be. I knew I wanted to be in New York and I had to make it happen. I worked and worked, saving every commission penny I made as a sales rep, while also working a separate full-time job. I made it my goal to get there no matter what it took.”

Sometimes, though, what you want and need are two different things. Having never lived anywhere other than Florence, Alabama, Bole said that her biggest fear was not having a support system in New York. “It’s fulfilling making your dreams come true, but what does it mean to you if you don’t have the people you love with you along the way? Being back home felt right at the moment,” she said.

And it probably didn’t hurt that home, in this case, was also home to renowned designers like Billy Reid and Natalie Chanin.

“After deciding to move back, I knew the only way I could continue working in the fashion industry was with Billy Reid,” said Bole. “As soon as I got back I accepted a job in the Florence shop. I immediately fell back into the Alabama lifestyle with friends and family, and I fell in love with my job.”

Business success has come along with the change as well; Bole said in the past year the store has more than doubled sales percentages and gained solid clientele from surrounding areas. But Bole has also experienced personal success too, as is evident by her recent honor from the head honcho himself.

“Krystina has taken over the shop and met every challenge with self-initiative,” said Reid. “She’s built a great team that respects her and loves working for her. There’s a vibe in the shop that is warm, social and hospitable. Not to mention, her shop has grown very impressively,” he said.

And while the Florence store is growing, some may still question why Reid would choose to house an American luxury brand and its corporate headquarters in a small southern town. “Being a part of this community and helping it grow is something we really believe strongly in,” said Reid. Additionally, Reid said being close to UNA and having access to the Department of Human Environmental Sciences (HES) has been beneficial. Reid said they currently have several interns from the program and employees who are alums of the University.

Bole credits her HES degree from UNA’s College of Education and Human Sciences with helping her get to that next step.

“I wouldn’t have made it this far without Mrs. Wilson’s sewing lab sessions or her obsession with the history of fashion,” she said. “I also think it helped me learn more about what is expected. Mrs. Wilson always taught us that nothing in fashion would be easy. Thankfully working hard comes natural to me.”

As mentioned in the beginning, that hard work certainly paid off. Bole received her Store Director of the Year award at Reid’s Shindig during their biannual symposium. Bole said she put in two years before that night and watched several deserving people go onstage and accept the award. “I honestly never thought that I would win. In my mind I thought a shop with more volume, customers and staff would always have the upper hand on the Florence location.” Clearly, that wasn’t the case.

As for her life path so far, Bole said she wouldn’t change a thing about it.
“Stepping out of my comfort zone and into the unknown was an exhilarating experience that helped me discover things about myself that I had never known before,” she said. “No matter how big, small, scary or unrealistic your dream may seem to everyone else – go for it anyway. You are the only designer of your destiny.”

ByBryan Rachal

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