Jessica Henri '14 joins the revitalization of downtown Altoona with the opening of Fox Hollow Boutique
By: Marissa Carney
"Fashion is very important. It is life-enhancing and, like everything that gives pleasure, it is worth doing well.” —Vivienne Westwood
Jessica Henri thinks everyone should feel, and look, like a million bucks when they get dressed, no matter how old they are or what their sense of style is. Her business is giving people the clothes and accessories to do so while allowing her to live out a dream at the same time.
Henri graduated from Penn State Altoona in 2014 with a degree in communications. The New Jersey native took a job as a marketing manager for a merchant service company for a while, then moved to Altoona’s WTAJ-TV as in integrated digital specialist, helping local businesses with their online marketing. She was only there for about six months before she decided to make the jump full-time to Fox Hollow, an online boutique she launched in 2016.
Henri says she’s always been passionate about fashion, finding it a useful way to express herself. “I went through all of these crazy stages through high school. I was the kind of girl to do my own thing. I feel like I've always had this artistic side, and fashion is a way to express that creativity.” Living in Altoona, Henri was often dissatisfied with the selection of shopping and clothing and was subsequently inspired to take matters into her own hands, to create something accessible for people wanting unique clothing. Fox Hollow Boutique was born.
As Henri worked full-time and spent all of her free moments promoting and working on the Fox Hollow website, she realized the timing was right to make it her priority. “It was a huge step, but the boutique was becoming an expensive hobby, and I knew I had to put my all into it for at least a year to see if it would work. My goal was always to have a storefront. As much as I love online shopping, I am all about the retail experience in person.”
So she and her fiancé, Noah, began searching for the perfect place to open that storefront. Henri knew it had to be in downtown Altoona. “Downtown areas are so cool and unique. I couldn’t envision my store in a plaza. I considered Hollidaysburg or maybe even Bedford, but there was something about Altoona - I could see its potential, so that’s where I was determined to open Fox Hollow.”
Unfortunately, Henri hit a snag as most of the buildings available at the time were only for purchase. As much as she would have loved to buy a building and redo it, Henri just didn't have the financial means. She was going to give up for a while, go back to a full-time job and move away from her dream. But then one day Noah was driving downtown and saw a “for rent” sign that was new. The pair jumped to check it out. “We walked in and both got this feeling. I thought, ‘this is it.’ I never said that before. It was honestly fate. We were seriously about to give up and this all came into place. I thought that this was a sign of what I was supposed to be doing with my life. Sometimes you have to put yourself out there and be a risk taker to make a change.” Henri opened the doors to Fox Hollow in April 2017.
Fox Hollow Boutique Store Front
Credit: Penn State
So far, Henri could not be more pleased with how things are going for Fox Hollow. She is astounded by the amount of support she’s received from people in the community and other downtown businesses. “A lot of us in downtown are young entrepreneurs so it’s great. We're all so supportive of one another, always pushing customers on to the next store, like the Clay Cup, the Brewery, and Kerr Kreations. It’s especially great to be part of the pioneering of downtown, to make it something again. I feel very lucky to be part of that.”
Henri is also thrilled with the response from consumers. She says she spends time with each person who comes in, whether that person knows what she likes or doesn’t consider herself fashionable at all. “I love the reaction when they put on my clothes. They're just smiling and happy. That's the most rewarding thing, when people walk out of here feeling so good about themselves. Everyone wants to feel that way, so I make sure I have something for all ages. We get people in here from eighteen to sixty plus. No matter what age you are, you should feel good.”
Henri sees Fox Hollow growing and being a part of an expanding downtown Altoona that stimulates the economy and is viewed as a destination spot. “We're all meant to do something in life, and I feel like this is what I was meant to do. I'm going to keep going and make sure this is successful. I’ve sacrificed for this, and there have certainly been days or months where I've wondered what I was doing, but I don't regret it. It has all been well worth it.”