On A Mission to Empower Women, Two Midlothian Natives Launch Online Boutique, Evolve

by | Mar 23, 2018 | FASHION

This spring, online boutique Evolve brings stylish,  affordable women’s fashion to Richmond. Co-founders Colleen Hegarty and Emma Manis began the clothing line with a mission of empowering women, separating their brand from current clothing trends that often promote unattainable standards of beauty.

“Both Colleen and I have always found the standards and expectations of women in the fashion industry to be unrealistic,” said Manis. “So, we wanted to create something that would break free of those standards and give the beauty back to those who had it taken away from them in the past.”

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Though mannequins were originally fashioned to the average waist of an American female, modern mannequins and models have waists more than six inches smaller than the average woman, distorting the perception and body image of 90 percent of women all over the world. Manis and Hegarty said that defying this misconception is the central mission of their company. “A woman should have the freedom to do and to be whatever she wants, and we want our clothing and our lifestyle to empower all women to embrace everything that they are, regardless of what society expects of us.”

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The Midlothian natives met in high school, but didn’t become business partners until recently. This September, the duo collaborated on a project and realized they had the chemistry and inspiration to start a business. While Manis handles business/styling aspects, Hegarty is the force behind creative directing, model scouting, and social media.

Even on a progressive local scene, and though the consumer base is majority female, the fashion industry is still disproportionately run by men, particularly in roles of leadership. Hegarty and Manis spearhead a women-led company, creating and styling fashion by and for women.

Hegarty and Manis

“We’ve both had our fair share of experiences being working women in male-dominated industries, and breaking the mold of male-run companies is something that really excites us,” said Manis. “At the end of the day, we want to give women the tools they need to feel empowered to take on every single day with confidence in themselves and their ability to change the world.”

Evolve’s products feature bright colors and clean lines, from glittery rompers to a burgundy button-down dress in corduroy, along with crop tops, vibrant tops, and skirts, and pants. Hegarty said they have seen a lot of traffic around this season’s major trends–like star prints, bold colors, and deep necklines.

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“We’re loving all of the fun prints and tassel trims this Spring/Summer season,” said Hegarty.  “Our big focus has definitely been on vacation and resort wear that can also double as everyday looks, whether you are shopping in the city or driving down the California coast.”

Evolve currently carries She & Sky, Sole Mio, and LUX LA, with pieces ranging from $25 to about $70. 

Their minimalistic, polished looks are showcased on their instagram, a platform they use not only to promote their pieces, but to connect with their Richmond customer base. They launched their “IT” Girl Program in January, an effort to get women involved and feeling confident.

“[We feature] a different evolve girl each month. We look for key figures that we feel demonstrate what it means to be an evolve girl – strong, intelligent, and beautiful women from all walks of life,” said Hegarty. “Whether you’re a college freshman joining a sorority, a blogger babe, or just your typical boss girl, we want to see you rocking your evolve style that makes you feel confident and strong.”

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In their first pop-up, Evolve debuted their spring and summer collections at Lou Stevens “Glam Squad”  on West Broad Street during RVA’s First Fridays this month.

“There was definitely a lot of craziness and running around on prep day,” said Hegarty. “But everything came together and it was so amazing getting to see so many women walk away with something they loved and felt good in.”

Evolve is planning on hosting another pop-up at Lou Steven’s “Glam Squad” on April 6. You can also find them at Wear RVA on May 10.

Photos By: Evolve


Sarah Honosky

Sarah Honosky

Sarah Honosky is a field reporter for RVA Mag and GayRVA. She likes 90's cult classic television, biking, and writing about Richmond arts and culture.

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