Written by Jennifer Porterfield
Elyse Wilde is a contemporary women’s clothing store in the Bearden area, but more than that, it is the realization of a lifelong dream for Knoxville native, Chelsea Brooks.
Chelsea has always enjoyed being active, the outdoors and doing arts and crafts of any kind. While working towards a bachelor’s in Textiles, Merchandising and Design (with a concentration in Fashion Merchandising) at MTSU, she had the chance to participate in a summer internship at Place Showroom out in L.A. She gained a basic understanding of the fashion industry but yearned to learn more. She also was intrigued by the West Coast’s culture and environment, and when she graduated from college, she moved out West to work for REVOLVE as a Buyer’s Assistant.
In 2015, Chelsea married Steven Brooks, whom she’d met in college, and when he landed an internship back in Knoxville, the two returned to their roots.
Chelsea always knew she wanted to do something in the fashion industry and had the idea of opening a clothing store in the back of her mind. Her mentor at REVOLVE, Bella, even encouraged her to open her own store. After settling back into Knoxville, Chelsea tried different jobs, but nothing seemed to be a good fit. She missed the process of placing orders and working with her old reps from the industry, and branching out into the retail side of things seemed to be a natural next step in her career. She already knew the brands she wanted to carry, and the rest, through lots of hard work and long nights, just came together.
In selecting a location for the store, Chelsea wanted to be close to downtown but still accessible to West Knoxville. The Vertex at Midtown shopping center felt like a perfect fit. As for the name—Elyse is Chelsea’s middle name, a name she once thought was “weird.” The use of her middle name is symbolic of the acceptance that just because something seems different or strange does not mean it is bad. “Wilde” was actually a suggestion made by her husband and, according to Chelsea, incorporates a little of her “wild” West Coast side as well as the importance of nature and the environment.
Elyse Wilde brings West Coast fashion right to the heart of Knoxville, featuring brands like Auguste the Label, Cleobella, Free People and Spell & Gypsy. That free-spirited California style is not only in the clothing selection, however, but also in the store itself. Expect lots of bright whites; clean, modern lines; archways; and the organic look of a wood ceiling. You may be greeted at the door by Chloe, a friendly miniature golden doodle. The adorable shop pup is also joined by human staff, who are happy to assist with styling outfits or finding gifts for friends and family.
Elyse Wilde strives to make everyone feel welcome, no matter their age or size. According to Chelsea, “The goal at Elyse Wilde is to empower women by creating a community to promote unified living while incorporating expressions of self-empowerment, individuality and healthful living.” Clothing is a form of self-expression, and it is all about finding you an outfit that helps you feel confident and beautiful. Come out today and find your inner style at Elyse Wilde!