Owning a business was the last thing Rebecca Fries envisioned. Majoring in media and communications at Queens College, the 29-year-old dreamed of a job as an entertainment industry publicist. But a year of job-hopping yielded little success, so she decided to take a risk and invest all her savings to open, Olive and Tuesday, a trendy clothing store in her suburban hometown of Woodmere, New York.On a recent Sunday morning, Fries sat at the counter of her 370-square foot store with top 40 hits playing in the background. The airy space feels like a huge walk-in closet with clothing displayed on textured white built-ins along the walls.

Fries sported her uniform of leggings, a sweatshirt with cold shoulder cutouts, and sunglasses on her head. While we spoke, Fries multitasked, ordering merchandise, sipping her standard Starbucks order “triple shot of espresso over ice in a venti cup with a splash of milk,” and helping customers choose among $100 leggings and $170 sweatshirts.

Q: What motivated you to open Olive and Tuesday? Your only retail experience was managing a cosmetics store in college. 

A: I was in Los Angeles in the summer of 2013, and really loved the type of clothing people were wearing. It was effortless and cool. I wanted to have a taste of Los Angeles in New York. I decided that I was going to sell this style clothing, which we now know as athleisure, because it was something nobody was selling here.

It was just seven weeks from the time the idea was conceived to opening day. I opened on October 1, 2013, because that marked one year from the time I had no idea what I was going to do. It was a year of growth for me. It was also a Tuesday, which is fitting because of the name of the store.

Q: How did you come up with the name for the store?

A: Olivia, my niece, is “Olive” and Jacob, my nephew, was born on a Tuesday. I name it after them because they are my best friends, even though they are 10 years old and 6 years old!

 Q: The original concept for Olive and Tuesday was to be online, yet we are sitting in your store five years later, what happened?

 A: Brands would not sell to me if I did not have a brick-and-mortar location. So I had to get a location to establish myself to brands and figured I could shift to online after. The people supporting me made me decide to focus on the store. I realized the relationship with me was part of the experience. I want people to feel comfortable here and look at me as a friend. That is also why I don’t have any employees. A big reason why people come in is to talk with me and hang out, and nobody I hired embraced the relationship with customers like me.

Q: How did you secure the brands you carry since they were exclusive when you started?

A: I wanted young, different brands that were not well known, like Monrow and LNA. They wouldn’t just sell you merchandise if you said, “Hey I’m opening a store.” You tell them who else you are carrying and they decide if it’s a good fit. So I sent all of them emails saying I was carrying these other brands, even though I wasn’t, because I knew it was the only way to get the lines. It is cool that these brands were just starting out when I opened and we have grown together.

Q: Athleisure is now worn everywhere for just about anything. You were ahead of the curve on predicting athleisure as the new uniform replacing jeans in Woodmere.

A: I never had any intention of creating such a widespread thing here. It is very humbling. I see that everyone is obsessed with it, and people are still following me five years later. I just thought this is cool stuff; whoever likes it should love it with me.

Q: What were your highest and lowest points getting here?

A: They are actually the same. Two years ago, I find out the owners of the cosmetics store I worked at, who I loved, opened a store less than a two-minute drive away with the same clothing. They were going after all of my lines and trying to take all of my business. They would come in and shop with their kids, and ask me questions of how I got these brands. I thought, “Wow they are really interested in my business.” That was a turning point because it taught me you have to be careful with trust, and if you bark at everyone that passes you then you are never going to be successful. I learned to just worry about myself and focus on where I want to go.

Q: Where will your business be in five years?

A: I am definitely seeing that the trend is moving online for shopping, ironically, so we might be online more. I should be looking at the bigger picture, that’s not me though. I just take it day by day.