The road to business can be winding and sometimes a little bumpy, so it’s no surprise if your battery starts running a little low. What can you do? Well, if you’re on a trip and your car battery dies, you might call Triple A for a boost. Turns out the answer is the same here, Triple A! That is to say: Awareness, Analysis and Action. That’s how Bianca Freda, owner of Interwoven, got to where she is today. While the road to get there wasn’t always direct, it did give her all the tools she needed when the time was right. Her story is a great reminder that it’s important to have awareness of what truly matters in our lives and how even small actions can have an impact on others.
Give us a brief description of your business.
I own Interwoven, which is an apparel and accessory shop located in downtown Asbury Park, NJ since 2014.
How did you get started?
As far back as I can remember, owning my own shop was a dream of mine. Little did I know, that all my steps along the way would lead up to my dream coming to fruition. I went to FIT for Fashion Marketing and Merchandising and went on to work with interior spaces. After owning my own design business, I worked for Anthropologie in the operational side of their business and eventually in visual arena. I am a very hands-on learner, so I'd have to say that my work experience led me to wear I am, more than my education.
Upon leaving Anthropologie, I went thru a self discovery period where I really examined where I was at in my life. I wanted to do something that makes more of an impact than I what I was previously doing. I recognized a need for something (identified the problem) and wanted to fix it. I loved living in Asbury Park, but I didn't have a place where I could get a great new outfit or a gift for someone. I wanted to make a place where all would feel welcome to shop; where things would be both functional and fun in a small town environment, so I created Interwoven.
What inspires you?
I gather the most inspiration when I travel. All the colors and spaces seem new; even if I've traveled there before and everything is exciting when it's something you don't see everyday. Colors have the ability to send so many messages without saying a thing. There is not one that I don't like.
We love watching you and your crew at the shop in your Instagram highlights! Why do you think that medium is so effective?
It's real, unedited and honest. They feature all of our personalities and individual styles. People tell us it's their escape during the day and that is exactly what we want it to be.
What advice do you have for people who are apprehensive about this feature?
Don't overthink it and don't rewatch your own videos until you are confident enough to not take yourself so seriously. Set guidelines in place so it doesn't seem erratic and don't be onenote; switch it up so people don't get bored.
What obstacles have you faced in running a brick and mortar store?
Balancing work and life. Honestly, I love what I do so much that I need to set boundaries and allow myself to have other interests. Now, I don't let myself work on my computer unless it's in my office. I also dislike a lot of the paperwork, but setting aside a day of the week where I do all the stuff I dislike, helps to get thru it a little bit easier.
Your website says, “The rule is, if it doesn’t make us smile, then it's not coming in the shop.” Love that! Can you tell us more about how you curate your inventory?
There are so many gimmicky things happening around us. Everyone is trying to make money off of someone else's message, and at times it feels insincere and forced. I always want our message to be of sincerity, with an impeccable aesthetic. I don't push trends if I think they are ridiculous. They need to serve a purpose, be made well and make you smile - then it may be invited in.
It’s obvious from your Monday discount for locals and updating your followers on the goings on around town, that you value your community. Why is that important to you, from a personal and business point of view?
I opened the shop in Asbury Park because I fell in love with the small community vibe.
I truly think that in a previous life I lived in a small town and my stoop was one of many coffee chats and hangs. I want Interwoven to feel just like that. You can come in to rant about your bad day, the fight you had with your girlfriend, or the raise you are intimidated to ask your boss for. We are here for you; seven days a week to b*tch about your woes or get that last minute gift you forgot to pick up.
The majority of people in Asbury Park work really hard for their money. The local discount is a tiny gesture we offer, to let them know we see you, we hear you, and want ya'll to look good. Catch me on a good day and I may just gift you the item you've been ogling over. I love giving gifts, what can i say. For the "What's Up AP" highlights, I feel very strongly about giving back and helping to support other small businesses around us. It's a way we can get the message out about what is going on in town without anyone having to pay to advertise. We try to spread the wealth, but only highlight what we feel is really a stand out event, to not overwhelm the viewer.
What is a cause you feel passionate about?
There are so many, it's hard to settle on one, but I'd have to say empowering people and never making anyone feel they are not welcome. I guess this is not your typical "cause", but if we all were just a little bit more compassionate and understanding, the world would be a kinder place.
Transgender rights are also very close to home for me, so if you make a rude comment about anything having to do with the way someone dresses in the shop, you may get a good ole' Bianca schooling on the issue.
What are some of your favorite Instagram accounts that you follow?
@_Nitch, for their quick blurbs about icons,
@Fuckjerry, because he cracks me up
@Shopanomie, because she owns a shop in San Fran and likes to catch thieves on her Insta, as do I, and has great taste.
I don't follow all the trendy, fashion bloggers. I don't want to be influenced and I think there is more to life than showing off your outfits. Your outfit can change your mood, your attitude and your outlook, that is what I love about style.
What are you grateful for this year?
My health. I was diagnosed with breast cancer in June and have been going thru the recovery steps since then. Luckily it was caught before I need chemo, but I did have to have a unilateral mastectomy, so that sucked. It is so cliche, but without your health, nothing matters. Having this scare has helped me to reexamine my life once again and dig deeper. What matters, who matters and where do I want to spend my energy? Trying to see the best in what I have and appreciate the time I have here.
I ain't slowing down, there is more in store for Interwoven in 2019!!!
You can learn more of Bianca’s story and Interwoven’s commitment to support women with cancer here: