The bustling nightlife on Washington Avenue attracts a respectable crowd, thanks to hotspots like Rosalita’s, Lucas Park Grille, and The Jive & Wail. It is also home to a number of cozy eateries, art galleries, and boutique-style shops. Clr-Mnstr (pronounced Color Monster), part women’s clothing shop and part art display space, is the latest addition to the latter. At barely six months old, the shop boasts an array of charming, girly basics as well as edgy, street-style inspired prints and colors, all while partnering with local artists to showcase their work.
Shop owner Tricia Thurman agreed to talk to us on a typical half-rain, half-sunshine St. Louis day, taking us through the process of launching Clr-Mnstr from start to finish. “I basically quit my corporate buying job in April, and we put the space together in a matter of months. It was a very fast process.” She tucked a lock of chestnut-colored brown hair behind her ear and kindly laughed as she addressed my simultaneous confusion and amazement. “You know, for whatever your passion is, whatever you really want to do with your life, there’s always going to be risk involved. And you have to have the balls, if you will, to do whatever it takes to follow your dreams. And this is my dream.”
We stumbled into a discussion of city-to-county stereotypes, discrimination, and the type of subject matter that inevitably surfaces when you put two native St. Louisans together. Although we’re from different areas of the city, our perspectives align in terms of the segregation that has persisted long after Brown vs. Board, and goes deeper than solely issues of ethnicity. Racial divisions aside, St. Louis has been further divided into counties and municipalities that have negative assessments of one another, based largely on blanket stereotypes—even amongst areas that are racially and socially similar. “We want to make St. Louis a destination. We want to break down that wall between the city and the county and get that traffic into the city.”
A noble goal, yes. But feasible? Thurman thinks so, despite an acute awareness of the city’s problems. A slew of negative press coverage and bad PR surrounding crime in St. Louis has been particularly damaging to efforts aimed at gentrification and urbanization. “We could have more night traffic if the media wasn’t over-exaggerating what’s going on, and if they were being truthful about if it’s on Washington Avenue, or if it’s in a back alley two miles away. And I hate to say that, but it’s just kind of the reality of the situation.”
The media is often more foe than friend to St. Louis. Although recent years have shown improvement, we are consistently ranked amongst the “Most Dangerous Cities” year after year. The CQ Press, whose methods have been subject to much criticism for validity, gathers data for “Most Dangerous Cities” annually. But misleading data or not, the media has been off and running with the juicy details. Even so, Thurman seems chipper and optimistic about the potential of St. Louis and the possibility for change. Her boutique is a testament to that: with an eclectic mix of high-fashion pieces and chic basics, Clr-Mnstr has the capability to drive traffic to the city from a suburbanite crowd that might opt for a similar selection in the confines of Clayton or West County, where the boutiques sell pieces worth as much as my car. To Thurman, “It’s all about democratizing the art and fashion world, and letting everyone have a piece of the pie. No matter what social status, how much money they make, or where they live, everyone should be able to be fashionable.”
The Clr-Mnstr storefront lights up the street and invites pedestrians to take a second look, to see the playful intersection of art and fashion, the bright colors, the novel concept, and offers them the chance to embrace a local business that represents more than clothes and a few pieces of street art. Thurman has consistently emphasized the potential of Clr-Mnstr as a movement, her own step towards bringing the city together and linking up different areas, different people, and different ideas that may not normally be inclined to mix. Her hope is to inspire a common desire to do the same; she challenges others to follow her lead and bring St. Louis to the forefront of innovation. To sum it up in her own words: “Don’t be scared to take those risks. People are really only inhibited by their fear.”
For more information about Tricia Thurman and Clr-Mnstr, visit www.clrmnstr.com