Jessi Murray is Oklahoma City’s own Tom Haverford.
On the hit show “Parks and Recreation,” Haverford, a local Pawnee, Indiana, bureaucrat and entrepreneur flipped on the lights to show friends his own rundown, not-even-painted space of his new clothing boutique. Haverford explained his concept of a store where teens can rent high-end clothing for low prices.
Murray lightheartedly watched this scene in her modern, avant-garde apartment in downtown Oklahoma City. In the midst of her laughter, an internal light bulb flipped on: being a fashionista who already sells clothes online, why doesn’t she bring that fictitious concept to life for her friends?
She decided to give the online community of women she helped create through Instagram an in-person space to come together at the soon-to-be-open Library: A Modern Clothing Store.
Murray describes herself as a 23-year-old jack-of-all-trades who is always moving forward, working on new opportunities with an innate drive to achieve her ambitious goals and make friends along the way. She wants other “girl bosses” in Oklahoma City to be connected and support one another through supporting local entrepreneurship.
Library will allow customers to check out items like they would at a traditional library, bringing them back within the month to take out more clothes and customize their wardrobe without breaking a budget. Members will pay $25 a month to get points they can spend on different items. Higher priced items are worth more points, so customers could use their points on a more expensive item, like a BCBG dress, or a few lower-priced items, like off-brand t-shirts.
Selling clothes on Instagram
Murray has 5,400 followers on her personal Instagram account, @xjessimurrayx, where she posts photos of herself carefully posed in almost exclusively black clothing, her fringed hair dyed red and oversized sunglasses, all of which she says defines her personal style.
Since she was a sophomore at the University of Central Oklahoma in 2013, Murray has also used Instagram to market clothes she sells from her own wardrobe. She started to hone in on her own personal style and wanted to edit her closet and make money doing it. In the past three years Murray realized that she could help others find their own personal style, so she began offering styling services as well as lifestyle photography sessions.
Hilarie Salamone became a customer and friend of Murray’s when she bought a pair of shoes from her on Instagram. Salamone now finds that Murray pushes her to try pieces she has never tried before and she knows that Murray is honest just wants women to look and feel their best in clothing.
She and her husband, Kris Murray, will open a storefront for Library by the end of November in the lower-level space of Spark Creative, the Murrays’ marketing company in Oklahoma City’s Midtown district. Murray hopes she can bridge the gap between those who shop online and those who like to shop in store. If customers see an item they want on Library OKC’s Instagram, they can come into the store, try on the item and take it home. Or, they can buy from Murray through direct messaging on Instagram and have it shipped to their address.
The space will feel inclusive
From selling her clothes on Instagram to a diverse group of women, Murray wants her store to feel inclusive as a space for everyone.
“I want to run a business, but I also want to create a community of women that all become friends because, to me, one of the highest compliments is when somebody goes ‘I love what you’re wearing, can I borrow that?’ So, I wanted all sizes [of women] to feel included, but it’s hard to shop for people who aren’t your size,” Murray said.
She takes friends with her to shop at various local thrift stores for clothes that will fit different body types. Then, she photographs them in the clothes and posts weekly to the Library OKC Instagram account, @libraryokc. Murray has over 4,000 followers on the account who she hopes will help the storefront become successful in the next few months.
Kris Murray sees many of her followers as quality friends she was able to make through online connections that she may not have met in real life.
“She’s found it kind of fun through Instagram [to be] able to connect people together and she feels like it would be a fun thing to make a space where people can hang out,” he said.
Salamone is very excited for Library’s opening. She thinks it is important to have the option to go into a store and try on items while having Murray help with styling. Salamone has already experienced the community and friendship Murray has brought to her, so she is hopeful that others will get to meet her through the store as well.
“She’s so good at bringing people together. She is always pouring into someone else and encouraging someone else to go and chase their dreams or dominate whatever they’re doing. It’s never about ‘how far can I get,’ but ‘how can I do something for you,’ which I love about her,” said Salamone.
Hard work pays off
Murray keeps up with her photography, while also working as the director of digital marketing at Spark Creative, which leaves less time to prepare for the store’s opening. She tries to split her time as evenly as she can, which Kris Murray said includes her waking up early and working late into the night editing photos, spending as much time as she can with their tiny Chihuahua Zara, named after her favorite clothing store and who can be seen posing in many of her Instagram photos.
“I feel like I work a lot. I am stressed out a lot, but starting something new is always stressful so it’s worth it,” said Jessi Murray.
Kris Murray thinks that while many young people have big dreams, few have the drive to figure out how to make them happen and become reality. He said she always follows through when she puts her mind to something. Murray works hard not only for herself, but also for the community she is working to create.
“I think just [my customers] are looking for unique clothes and aren’t trying to just look like everybody else and aren’t trying to spend a ridiculous amount of money to look nice because I don’t think anybody should have to spend a ridiculous amount of money to look nice,” said Murray
The future for Library OKC
Due to the November opening date being near the holiday season, Murray expects the store to do well initially. In the next few years, she hopes to move the store out of the Spark Creative offices and to its own location.
“Eventually, it would be fantastic if I could also expand into menswear as well because I think there’s a need for that. And then multiple locations would be awesome, but that’s dreaming real big,” she said.
So far, big dreams have not stopped Murray from pursuing new ventures, and being surrounded by eager and helpful friends and family make those dreams possible. “Asking for help isn’t hard when you’re surrounded by such helpful and loving people,” she said.