Carissa Long at TUSC, her new boutique
in downtown Wilmington
I'm always excited to hear there is a new boutique opening in Wilmington. Since opening the Style Girl Vintage showroom, I am especially interested in new retail options within walking distance, making Downtown Wilmington even more of a destination for tourists and locals alike.
You may recognize Carissa Long, the beautiful new girl on the block & owner of Tusc boutique, as one of the original Hallelu shop girls. This talented #girlboss group has followed in Catherine's (owner of Hallelu) footsteps with Maddie Allen launching Shop Bones around the same time as Tusc's online shop a few years back and most recently, Michaela Batten opening Wilmington's long-awaited new shoe shop, Soul Shoetique.
Shortly after her opening a few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of spending some time with Carissa in her inviting new space at 21 North Front Street (next door to Port City Java and across from The Wonder Shop). Between Carissa's genuine, engaging spirit and eye for effortless style, it won't be long before this gem of a shop is no longer a secret. See some of my favorite picks from the Tusc dressing room below along and find out how Carissa channels her sweet spot "where the desert meets the sea."
WHS: Share with us a little on your background in retail. I remember you as an early era Hallelu girl. How did that experience shape your interest in one day having your own shop?
“At the age of 13, I got my workers permit and started working at Sweetwater Surf Shop! My family lived on the beach so it was nice to ride my bike to work. I absolutely loved retail, helping people find things that made them feel beautiful has always been my greatest passion. Catherine Yearwood worked at Sweetwater when I started and I had always loved her and been inspired by her. She and her husband, Dave, led a small group that I attended throughout high school. My junior year summer I started working at Hallelu with all my best friends, and was so happy coming to work everyday doing what I loved. That’s when it hit me that I had found my passion in life!”
WHS: How long did you live in Cali? How did your time out West influence the aesthetic of your shop & the clothing you carry? What is your inspiration behind Tusc’s “Where the Desert meets the Sea?”
“I had always loved the idea of moving to California to go to college. Coincidentally, my boyfriend (now husband) moved to North Carolina from California right out of high school, but had to move back just eight months later to start college. That was a major factor that helped get me out there! I was there about 3 years.
When I moved to Encinitas (north San Diego county) I fell in love with everything about it - from the succulents and palm trees that lined the streets to the cliffs along the beach. That’s where I came up with the ‘desert meets the sea’. That phrase drives everything I buy and how I chose to decorate the shop.”
Favorite new pre-fall look from Tusc
WHS: How/when did you decide you wanted to have a storefront?
"I’ve always wanted a storefront from day one, but I chose to use my college money to invest in an online store (which I had for 2.5 years) and build my inventory so I could try my hand at it without having a full commitment of a brick + mortar."
WHS: What made you decide to open your shop in Wilmington instead of San Diego? Downtown vs. Wrightsville Beach?
“I actually attempted to open a shop in downtown Encinitas but everything I looked at didn’t work or fell through. Thankfully so because Timmy (hubs) and I decided to move back to Wilmington! I knew if I were to open a shop in Wilmington, it would be downtown."
WHS: What do you love most about having your shop downtown?
“I absolutely love being downtown because I meet the most fascinating people from all walks of life. I also love the history and character of the buildings.”
Comfy chic Tusc dress in the prettiest shade of periwinkle
WHS: Tell us a little about the handmade / local offerings you carry at Tusc.
“We have a collection from SH Crochets by the talented Sarah Hennessy. She makes bohemian tops to fit any shape. Bodhi’s Pieces are a collection by Nicole Wittekind, a former local who started her company here and now resides on the West Coast. She handcrafts silk wrap bracelets dyed in gorgeous colors with imported brass beads, as well as delicate ivory vertebrae beaded necklaces and earrings.”
photos above by Jess James / photos below, property of TUSC
WHS: When you are buying for Tusc, is your own personal style the biggest influence? Are there repeat customers you have in mind?
“Yes, big time! I always buy things I would wear. Clean, rustic, and bohemian. I adore neutrals and think that less is more. The Tusc patron is forever inspired by pieces with a timeless cut made with quality fabrics and prints. She is in love with the ocean and has a care-free attitude toward her wardrobe.”
WHS: What items in your shop are customers gravitating to most right now?
“Palazzo pants are flying off our racks right now, along with knitted tops and printed tunics.”
WHS: Where are some of your favorite sources of inspiration?
“I absolutely love Parisian style because French women have such an effortless style. I am also inspired by women of the past like Françoise Hardy, Jane Birkin, Charlotte Rampling, and Jean Shrimpton. I also love looking to nature. La Jolla, California is one of the prettiest places to see!"
WHS: Favorite Instagram accounts to follow?
WHS: Favorite Pandora stations to play at Tusc?
Jorge Ben, El Michels Affair, Fleetwood Mac
WHS: What fall trends are you most looking forward to wearing?
“I can’t wait to get into cozy knitted sweaters, suede jackets, wide leg denim, and classic long sleeve button-down blouses.”
Dakota showing her appreciation for my new Tusc dress
(on Marthe Pineau's porch)