Wyckoff, NJ: Forget old-fashioned snobby-type clothing boutiques and enter a place that feels as much like a trip to your favorite beach as it does perfect indulgence for the fashionista. Fashion entrepreneur and former interior designer Celia Cantelmo is opening the second location of her original boutique Bfree right here in Bergen County, New Jersey. The store is officially open for business.
Cantelmo fell in love the fashion from an early age. “I practically grew up at Paramus Park Mall around the 1980’s. Not to hang out like most teens do at that age but to actually shop! I was a self-imposed personal shopper for all my friends and most of my family much like Alicia Silverstone’s character in the movie Clueless. I always smile when I see styles from the 80’s being repeated now when I am buying for the store. No giant shoulder pads please!”
She continues, “To me, shopping is an art form. Once I reached my twenties and started traveling, I discovered boutiques and that was it for me! I was completely obsessed. I literally chose places to visit according to how great the area boutiques were! I didn’t go to college for fashion. I went for interior design. However, I feel like 20-plus years of research and honing my shopping skills was better experience than a lecture hall would have been.”
As a former interior designer/furniture store owner and avid proponent of local entrepreneurs, the look of her store has been of paramount importance, and she’s had everything custom built by independent craftspeople. “I designed my front desk, shelves, face-outs, draperies, everything myself and as much as possible I wanted to support small businesses. Everything is custom and made by hand,” says Cantelmo.
“I love that I carry over 100 lines between my two stores because I’m a people pleaser by nature and nothing hurts me more than not being able to help someone. If a customer leaves the store without finding something, I feel a little bit like I failed them. So, I ask myself what I could have done better. Was it the fit? The fabric? The price? Then I make adjustments with my next buy,” she explains.
Along-side beach and resort wear, stylish and versatile athletic wear, and career attire, Bfree boasts an entire denim department filled with premium brands known for fit, on trend style and comfort. Cantelmo says, “I realize these premium brands come at higher price points so over the years I’ve added denim brands with reachable price points that offer the same quality and comfort as the higher priced brands. That way we have something for everyone!”
Of note is the “giveback wall” in the store. Bfree partners with the charity Spiritual Gangster and for every item purchased in the store, Spiritual Gangster gives a meal to a family in need. “Our motto is: giving back is the new beautiful,” says Cantelmo. There are many brands that Bfree carries on a regular basis which donate a percentage to charity. Some of these brands include:
About what she does for self-care, Cantelmo says, “I know we all hear this especially now in the age of self-help books and podcasts but it’s so important to take off the mom hat or the career hat and allow time for yourself.” She advocates stepping away from the electronic devices and social media as much as possible. She practices morning and evening yoga and goes on daily hiking excursions with her dog to watch the sunset.
Celia Cantelmo lives in Warwick, NY with her husband Louis. They have three children; Louis, Brandon and Zachary and two French bulldogs named Peach and Pinot Noir.
For more information on Bfree, check out www.shopbfree.com and on Instagram: bfree_boutique.