Bohemian Bias, Newport's latest outfitter, offers a cozy vibe and unique aesthetic. The owner, Alex Souza, is an Aquidneck Island native who recently returned from Southern California, where she picked up a degree in fashion management and a love of the laid-back sea-side lifestyle. Fun frocks and adorable accessories at the shop perfectly marry the sophisticated style that has become synonymous with the east coast and the eccentricity of the west. Their inspiring assortment of merchandise consists of statement pieces from “contemporary” brands for the risk-takers and style-obsessed in all of us.
The space is filled with custom-made and flea-market found fixtures, easy to move around and intended to be shifted for a bright and airy environment. Alex expects to host lots of events both at the boutique and at the local festival-circuit. Keep an eye out for flowy fabrics and fun fringe!
Bohemian Bias is such a cute new boutique. How did you decide to take the leap and open it?
I have been dressing myself ever since I was four years old. Growing up, I was always so obsessed with fashion, especially hats and accessories. I was an only child for 16 years and my mom doesn’t even like shopping at the grocery store so I’m not totally sure where this obsession came from.
I’ve worked retail for over ten years and earned a Bachelor’s degree in Fashion Marketing and Management from the Art Institute of California- San Diego. Owning a boutique has been a dream of mine ever since I can remember. After returning from a 6 year hiatus on the west coast, I wanted to create a store and space that merged my love for the sophisticated style of the east and the eccentricity of the west.
Tell me about your line of merch!
We offer a variety of merchandise ranging from clothing/shoes/accessories to art and home goods.
The majority of our vendors are based out of Southern California, with a few from Australia and one from Hawaii (aloha Sugarhigh Lovestoned). I took a lot of time researching brands before bringing them into the store to make sure they aligned with the overall brand image I am hoping to create.
A good amount of our products are handmade, and most are made in the USA. Questions I asked myself while considering what brands to bring in were: Were they made with fair trade? What is the quality of these products? Is there an actual person or story behind the brand or are they super corporate? These are all things I ask myself while shopping and I think my customers align themselves with these values as well.
What kind of customers do you attract? Who is the Bohemian Bias gal (or guy)?
It’s a little early to tell but we are certainly gaining a large local following, which is primarily who we are targeting. There’s been so many local babes (gals AND guys) supporting us, as well as a lot of interesting people from all over the world. It’s been pretty rad seeing customer’s reactions to the store and the way we have it set up.
The ultimate Bohemian Bias babe is a dreamer and a doer inspired by nature, travel, unconventional fashion and all things vintage. She’s a little glam, a little rock n’ roll, and a whole lotta peace and love.
What were you doing before you opened this shop?
After graduating, I worked various jobs before opening the Bohemian Bias. Those jobs ranged from selling shoes in the children’s department at Nordstrom, to assisting my friend Chaz Aracil in New York Fashion Week, to being the Assistant Event Director for Surf Fest, a local event featuring vintage surf boards put on by Water Brothers.
You are in such a great location! How did you score this place?
I had been looking for a retail space in Newport for quite some time when I found the space on Mill Street.
I had three requirements for the space: windows we could do displays in (which I haven’t gotten around to yet but will be doing VERY soon!), natural sunlight and a lenient landlord. When you come to the store it’s quite obvious to see I nailed all three on the head.
What is your long-term vision for Bohemian Bias?
Expansion is certainly in the plans for me. My long-term vision for Bohemian Bias is to have multiple locations throughout the US as well as a strong online presence. (We will be launching online within the next few months). My goal is to create a lifestyle brand that allows people to express themselves freely through the art of fashion.
Do you expect to host any events or additional offerings at Bohemian Bias?
The space we’re in was made for hosting events. All of the fixtures are custom built and on wheels, making it easy for us to move things around and accommodate a lot of people. Sign up forour email list if you want to get invites to party with us!
We also plan to have a strong festival presence. Our first festival pop up will be this August 3rd at Live Local Music Festival, which is a celebration of the art and culture that defines Newport and Rhode Island as a whole.
Why did you decide to open the first outpost in Newport?
Newport is my hometown, the city I was born in. There really is no other place quite like it. After moving back I felt as though there was a gap in the retail offerings here that wasn’t being fulfilled. There is quite a revival, a renaissance so to speak, happening in Newport that I very much wanted to be a part of. It’s been inspiring to see a lot of my friends and people my age following their dreams and doin’ what they love to do.
It feels like the local crowd really reflects the aesthetic and values of Bohemian Bias! What is it like to be a part of the Newport creative community?
I am lucky enough to be surrounded by many creative and amazingly talented people here in Newport. It’s pretty rad to collaborate with people from many different walks of life. My favorite part of this little community of ours would have to be gettin’ groovy with my gals while watching one of the many awesome local bands we are lucky to have here on the island.
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Photos by Visual Manor