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Industry Icon: Jen Van Wart

November 4, 2009

TWIGS6Industry Icon: Jen Van Wart
Owner, Twigs

By Chelsea Roehl

On my first visit to Twigs, I got the impression of an upscale boutique with a bright, insanely chic, New York City feel. I was enticed by the artistic chandeliers made from branches (twigs!) and the crisp structure of the store’s setup. Jewelry is displayed elegantly in glass cases and designer handbags are placed on shelves above the garments.

Ironically enough, Twigs owner Jen Van Wart and I grew up in the same town…small world! After chatting for a bit, she was kind enough to answer some questions I was anxious to ask…

BRAVA: What is one piece of advice for transitioning from fall into winter?
Jen: I highly recommend tights and boots. Also, be sure to layer with cardigans and jackets…think cashmere.

BRAVA: What is a cold weather favorite you have this season?
Jen: The infinity scarves for only $26!

BRAVA: When shopping at Twigs, what kind of mood do you want the store to set for  your customers?
Jen: Put simply, Twigs is like a bigger, better version of all our closets. There’s truly a bit of everything and definitely something for everyone. Ultimately, it’s a super-edited, family-owned boutique. We love helping our customers find just the right thing. We even keep dog treats and toy bins at the ready for our smallest of visitors!


At Twigs you’ll find simple T’s and basics by Splendid, tons of cozy knits by Demylee, Emu Australia, and others. We have great accessories like hats, scarves and mittens, and of course a wide range of jewelry ($20 trinkets to special occasion treasures.) Twigs also offer an amazing selection of coats and jackets, pretty party dresses and fabulous handbags.

BRAVA: You carry high end designer handbags. What bag makes a great investment piece?
Jen: Actually, we carry handbags starting at about a $350 price point…but an investment piece would definitely have to be the Studded Stam by Marc Jacobs (shown at right).

Chelsea’s top picks at Twigs:

1. Marc Jacobs “Gash” Bag, $1,395


2. Tibi lace jacquard skirt in mustard, $250


3. Splendid cardigan in sangria, $72




Click on this photo for a peek at the Emu Australia lookbook at!

Coincidentally, I also attended the launch of a new line for Twigs, called Emu Australia, and I was able to chat briefly with director of sales Lea Kalani about the new line.

BRAVA: What is the philosophy behind the brand?
Lea: Surf and Sheep. EMU’s materials are all derived right out of Australia. Most people don’t know this but EMU was the original “UGG” brand. The word “UGG” came from the original term, ugly…which is how Australians described the first sheepskin footwear. EMU is about the brand heritage and representing the “Naturally Australian” quality sheepskin and wool.

BRAVA: What can we expect out of the fall/winter 2009 clothing line?
Lea: The women’s clothing division is the newest addition to the company. The pieces are still luxurious, made from the finest merino wool, but are also machine washable and very durable. Unlike itchy wool, our Merino wool is extremely soft, versatile and, in some cases, lightweight. We’re previewing our spring collection here at Twigs, including a black tank that’s made from wool. You would never guess it’s wool, but it is!

*Fun Fact: EMU AUSTRALIA and were recently featured in Lucky magazine for their ponchos!

BRAVA: What is your favorite piece right now?
Lea: I would say the bomber jacket for sure (shown above). Although, I tried the vest on the other day and I like that too!

Twigs | 1925 Monroe St., Madison; (608) 255-4363 or

Chelsea is a fashion intern at BRAVA, and can be reached at

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