When she opened Poshh exactly ten years ago, Wendy Batiste-Johnson says she was the only “contemporary boutique” on the campus end of Liberty. The way she tells it, opening Poshh was almost a form of social work directed at fashion-deprived Midwesterners. Batiste-Johnson grew up in Bloomfield Hills but went to school in New York, “where I was exposed to a different realm of fashion. Each time I would visit Ann Arbor, I’d say ‘Where does everyone shop?’ There was nothing here!”
Since Poshh opened, it’s been joined by Allure and Pink Pump on the same block, and Pitaya around the corner. The State Street Area Association just celebrated its first Fashion Week, with a fashion show at the Michigan Theater and promotions at more than thirty stores. But now Poshh itself is closing. Batiste-Johnson says her lease is up at the end of October, she has two children, the oldest six, and she needs to take a breather. But, she says, “I’m a busybody. It’s not my goal to be at home. I’ll be diving into something else soon.”
A year ago she started her own clothing label, Poshh by Wendy, and plans to keep that alive, but she’s not necessarily looking for a full-time job in fashion. Cornell-educated with a double degree in engineering and industrial and labor relations (those “realms of fashion” she talked about above were not in Ithaca, but on her frequent trips to New York City), she has some other options.
She explains where that extra “h” came from. “The original name of the store was Twiggy, and the tagline I used in all the advertising was ‘Ann Arbor’s best kept secret.’ When I changed the name to Poshh, I kept the ‘shh’ to symbolize the secret.”