BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — You probably can't afford to dress like Knicks star Carmelo Anthony. But if you live in Bed-Stuy, you can probably afford to see his stylist.
The store, which the 31-year-old entrepreneur describes as a perfect fit in the rapidly changing neighborhood, culls vintage men's and women's clothing, jewelry and bowties from thrift stores and estate sales, and sells original items from indie designers like Adeleke Sijuwade and Vivian Kelly.
Williams-Webb's desire to open a store, she said, came from her own love of thrift-store shopping.
"The vintage part of my life has always been there," she said. "As a child, my mom would go to the thrift stores and go shopping. It's something that I didn't like as a child, but you know, as I grew into teenage years, it's something I had an affinity for. It's something I grew to love."
Williams-Webb credited her mother and two grandmothers as the inspiration for Shirley & Alice, and the store itself is named after the two older matriarchs.
"They definitely played a big part into my love of fashion and my fashion sense," she said. "But also just growing up and being a woman."
Originally from Baltimore, Williams-Webb went to college at the University of Maryland College Park and Coppin State College, while working in retail at an Express store. But in her college courses she always had the vague idea that she wasn't pursuing the dream she wanted.
So Williams-Webb decided she needed a change. She moved to New York, picked up a retail position at a Tommy Hilfiger and got to work on figuring out her place in the fashion world.
While working, she met stylists and eventually signed on as an assistant for several fashion gurus. She began interning for a prop stylist in 2004, and a year later, quit her job at Tommy Hilfiger. In 2007, after making more connections in the style world, she decided to branch out on her own.
"I've always had a love for clothing — a love for putting looks together," she said.
Fate lent a hand in 2008, when she ran into an old friend from Baltimore at the 2008's NBA All-Star Weekend who was working as Carmelo Anthony's manager. The friends started talking, and Williams-Webb began to wonder aloud how they could work together.
"We were talking about Melo, and his style, and possibly connecting to work with him," Williams-Webb said. "We met, I got him a suit made, and we went from there."
About two years ago, Williams-Webb started to think about branching out yet again — this time with her own retail space. She rented out showrooms and galleries to hold sales, searching for the perfect space to open a dedicated store.
Finally, after some help from husband Richard Beavers, who owns the House of Art Gallery on Marcus Garvey Boulevard, the Bed-Stuy resident found a location close to home.
"This was the first neighborhood I moved to when I moved here 10 years ago," Williams-Webb said. "And it's a completely different place, as far as the people who are here, the businesses that are sprouting up in the neighborhood. So I think it's a natural fit for what's going on."
Williams-Webb then brought on longtime friend and designer Carlyle Hanson, 34, to help design the space.
The two met while Williams-Webb was working at Tommy Hilfiger, where they both bonded over a mutual sense of style.
"She was stylish. I was stylish. And we were friends ever since," Hanson said.
Hanson was originally called in to just bring some inspiration to the space, he said, but ultimately decided to stay on. A 22-year Bed-Stuy resident from Jamaica, he wanted to make the neighborhood more of a hot spot.
"Having that [location] as the place this store was going to open up, it was to me somewhat of a 'pride of Bed-Stuy,' in a sense," Hanson said. "Let's do something different in Bed-Stuy. Let's make it a destination."
While some of the pieces in the store are a little high-end — Kelly's jewelry collection can cost up to $149, while Sijuwade's Olori collection will run you upwards of $450 — Williams-Webb said she was determined to have price points for everyone. Bow ties are in the $50 range, some of the vintage jewelry can be as low as $20, and on a recent visit men's shirts went for as low as $40.
The store is also adorned with old photos of Shirley and Alice themselves, dressed in clothing from the 1960s, '70s and '80s.
And her mother's style will be a constant influence, Williams-Webb said.
"She still buys things for me now," the store owner said, laughing. "She's like, 'I found this for you!' And she gives it to me to put into the store."