OXFORD – Miss Behavin is not a successful women’s clothing store by accident.
Owner Ivy Jackson Saxton eats, sleeps and breathes fashion, and so do her employees.
“Before I go to market, I study, study, study – magazines, Pinterest pins, anything I can find,” the 32-year-old said. “The girls and I probably spend 100 hours pinning photos and ideas on individual peg boards. Every girl’s style is different. Then we take everything from the boards and put them into books, so we know what we’re looking for at market. We keep those books and compare this year’s style to last year’s.”
Miss Behavin, a 2,900-square -foot boutique located just off the Oxford Square on North Lamar Boulevard, specializes in unique apparel and accessories and includes popular designer lines such as Collective Concepts, Dillon Rogers, House of Harlow, Joe’s Jeans, Lucca Couture, WkShp and La Mer watches.
Saxton opened Miss Behavin 10 years ago on Van Buren Avenue, but soon outgrew that location and moved next to the historic Thompson House. After the side of the Thompson House building collapsed and fell onto her store, she moved temporarily into the Oxford Realty building. She’s rebuilt next to the renovated Thompson House and moved in about three years ago.
“I had a vision for Miss Behavin. I wanted it to be something different from what was on the Square,” she said. “But first, you have to make some money to do it. I was raised to work for what I had. Nobody gave me anything. I was sacking groceries at age 12.”
Saxton wants her employees – high school, college and sorority girls – to know and appreciate the value of hard work.
“I hire leaders,” she said. “I admire a lot of my girls. They set fashion trends. They surprise me with what they wear and how they wear it. But I want to inspire girls instead of letting them think this was handed to me, because it wasn’t. Hard work and dedication leads to a lot of good things.”
Before Saxton opened her cutting-edge store, with its neon colors, caution tape, sleek lines and urban feel, she did a little research on what worked at other places.
“I’d go to different stores and just listen to the music they were playing,” she said. “I’d see what businesses, what restaurants were making money. What we play here is hip-hop workout music that has so many beats per second. I studied what makes people move and groove.”
Saxton, a mother of two young sons, Drew and Conner, likes the clientele in Oxford and the surrounding area because they’re fashion-forward thinkers.
“It’s refreshing to me,” she said. “It’s like we’re not so different from L.A. It’s just that people wear it differently here. I like to think we class it up.”
The Ripley native has seen her business increase every year. According to the 2012 business plan, the store’s customer demographic has evolved from a 90 percent base of university women to one that includes older women and juniors.
Because she thinks she’s onto a good thing, Saxton hopes to one day open stores in Dallas, Knoxville, Nashville, New Orleans and Atlanta. In fact, she’s grooming her employees – whom she calls “keyholders” – to be the future managers.
“I’ll know I’ve made it when I open stores in New York and Los Angeles,” she said, “and that I’ve really made it when I open one in Paris. I dream big. This is a man’s world, especially in the South. You have to stand your ground if you’re going to make it.”