Jill Yetzer Flood wants to go through your closet. For real. This woman will literally drive to your house and make a beeline to your clothes-crammed closet. Here, like a skilled fashion surgeon, she will carefully and precisely put together outfits that work, noting where a new belt or pair of knee-high socks would help complete your wardrobe.
A fashion house call is the kind of thing we’re used to seeing on reality TV shows such as What Not to Wear, but for Flood, the owner of Clearwater Clothing in Waconia, it’s a natural extension of her business. Clearwater Clothing is a boutique clothing store for women, celebrating its 21st anniversary this year. The shop is filled with racks of unique garments, tabletops displaying jewelry made by local artists, and plenty of accessories meant to “pull together outfits”—Flood’s joie de vivre. “I describe our inventory as classic with a twist of trend,” Flood says. “People who stop in are always surprised that Waconia has such a high-quality clothing store.”
Any independent retail shop that’s been open for more than two decades has a recipe for its success. Clearwater Clothing’s recipe calls for a healthy dose of family. Flood grew up in Waconia, where her family owns a furniture and flooring shop called, eponymously, Yetzer’s—a business that her brother Steve runs to this day. While Flood appreciates home furnishings and flooring, her interests always aligned with the world of fashion and retail. She affectionately refers to her love for clothes as her “illness.” So after graduating from college, she dove headfirst into the world of big-brand retail, working for The Limited and Eddie Bauer.
One day in 2003, Flood got a phone call from her brother, telling her that Waconia’s only clothing shop, The Village ’N Me, was going out of business and she ought to fill the void. “I was 27 when I started my business,” Flood says. “My family and I actually built the building where Clearwater Clothing is today. It’s just across the street from the family business.”
Like the fashion industry itself, Flood’s store evolved over the years. “About 10 years ago, we made the switch to selling only women’s clothing,” Flood says. “I go to New York two to three times a year to attend fashion shows and keep our inventory fresh.”
Today, the Clearwater Clothing offerings mirror Flood’s own fashion sense. It’s timeless and unique, yet gives a nod to the latest trend. The store ambiance is warm, slightly rustic and laid back. As you wander, you might become enamored with a chocolate-brown A-line shift dress with black, detailed pleating. A peppermint-green, ultra-feminine, flowing top might sing its siren song to you. Maybe you’ll peruse the jewelry and covet everything from the sterling silver necklaces to the chunky leather bracelets to the delicate beaded earrings. These are the kind of evergreen gems that every lady needs. “My pieces are classic and they’re not über trendy,” Flood says. “They’re high-quality, but they’re not outrageously expensive.”
That middle ground hits a sweet spot for all ages—from 20-somethings to 80-somethings. Flood’s thoughts on dressing your age are simple: Wear what you want.
That said, Flood is honest if a style doesn’t fit your body type. She’s quick to point out that “it’s all about proportion,” and she won’t let a petite woman walk out of her store with a flouncing tunic that she’s swimming inside of.
When you shop here, you feel like you’re getting advice from your best girlfriend. And, if you’re looking for above-and-beyond fashion advice, you can always set up a house call, and Flood will happily rummage through your closet.