Kimberly Sussman Bridges and Jenny Zalkin, founders of istylie
The situation is urgent: “Jenny, I need you to go to the Aventura Mall—now,” says Kimberly Sussman Bridges, calling in reinforcements via business partner Jenny Zalkin. Bridges hops into her car with their client and makes a beeline for the rendezvous. Why the hustle? It’s an emergency—a fashion emergency, that is—and handling those is what Bridges and Zalkin, who run istylie, do. Although their business is new, they’re already busy helping clients with image consulting, fashion styling, personal shopping and “wardrobe therapy,” where they make house calls to evaluate the subject’s current state of style.
Usually Bridges and Zalkin work one-on-one. But sometimes they team up, as in the case of the client Bridges brings to Aventura. “She was leaving for New York and was pressed for time. I told Jenny, ‘This woman is into the classics. Katie Holmes is her inspiration.’ By the time we got there, Jenny was standing in front of a dressing room filled with clothes the client loved.”
The duo met while working at Chroma, the former Lincoln Road boutique. Bridges, now 33, was an assistant buyer, and Zalkin, 28, a college student and salesperson; they bonded over fashion. A few years later, while honeymooning in London, Zalkin visited Bridges, who was living there at the time. They began discussing the future. Zalkin recalls, “Kimmie said, ‘I have this great idea,’ and I realized that I had the exact same one—what istylie is now. So when she moved back to Miami, we decided to get serious and do it.” Brochures and a website, blog and Facebook page followed.
The two pride themselves on offering a luxury service at an affordable price. Their options range from $50 for a “style exam” to $400 for a full day of shopping or wardrobe analysis. They have arrangements with stores and pass the discounts on to their clients. “People wonder why a person would need a service like ours, but we’re saving our clients time and money,” Zalkin explains.
They also believe that fashion can better the world. Last year, Zalkin, who wears her parents’ wedding rings around her neck, lost her mother, Enid, to lupus. This inspired her to create her first charity event, the Lupus Foundation of America’s A Flare for Design, a fashion show held May 19 at DCOTA (Design Center of the Americas) in Dania Beach. And, she adds, “All the models will be women and men with lupus. They’ve never done anything like this before, and they are so excited.”