In The Company Of Women: A Conversation with Finefolk’s Leslie Fraley
Finefolk boutique and lifestyle shop in Kansas City thrives on personal connection. Owner Leslie Fraley has curated a space that prioritizes community, comfort and vulnerability. She and her team strive to cultivate that specific sense of exhilaration when a piece of clothing slips effortlessly over your curves.
You led a creative design life since before opening Finefolk. You’ve also worked as a domestic-violence victims’ assistant advocate. How did you decide to work in retail?
I have so many diverse interests. What I love about Finefolk is my ability to tap into my love for fashion, art and design. We try to orient our mission toward more than just the clothes, both in our collaborations with other artists, designers and businesses, and in our interactions with the local community. We work with independent, small-production designers that utilize ethical practices. Nearly all of the names we stock are women designers, who often employ women’s cooperatives around the world to execute their handwork.
How does your background in jewelry and clothing fabrication influence your curation and management of the shop?
Understanding the process of clothing construction helps me to know how something should look when it fits correctly. I do closet consultations, and you can often find me in the dressing room with a customer, making recommendations. My mother does all of the alterations in-store, so we’re able to customize any garment and make work them for a wide range of bodies. I don’t believe that clothing should fit you right off the rack.
What excites you most in the store at the moment?
I’m a big shoe and bag fan. One of my favorite new additions is a Copenhagen-based line called Aesther Ekme. We’re excited to be one of the first stores in the country to carry it. I love the bags’ minimal, streamlined design, without any zippers or hardware. I’m attracted to classic fashion with an edge or a freshness that comes from unexpected details.
On your website, you publish glimpses into the daily lives of the Finefolk team and the local community, from music playlists to interviews with friendly faces and featured designers. How have you seen this community evolve over time?
We are part of a very strong art community by nature of our location in the Crossroads Arts District in Kansas City. When we opened, there wasn’t a lot of retail in our neighborhood, but that has since grown. We’re grateful to be surrounded by independently owned businesses.
This interview originally appeared in ALIVE Magazine Issue Three.