Denise: I’ve lived in or near Richmond my entire life. Even after 20 years, I feel like there is still so much for me to discover. Even after going to a college 45 minutes away, I felt compelled to come back. Richmond is just the right kind of city for me: not too big and not too small. It’s a breeding ground for creativity of all kinds and there is always something to do. All of my memories of Richmond tell a story, whether it’s good, bad or full of hipsters (tends to happen a lot). Like getting to see the president in Byrd Park, or going to my first Folk Festival and even seeing my first theatre show. As a photographer, I see Richmond all the time and I see it in my own way. I think the only word to describe it is home.
Ella: What I love the most about living in Richmond is I get to experience the never-ending energy that only a city gives and yet somehow feeling that small-town ambience as well. I can’t exactly explain how such a contradiction can be contrived, but just like my Artist-of-the-month t-shirt from New Normal Apparel that reads, “Made in the RVA”, it is safe to say that the RVA has made me. Because in Richmond, the trick to living large is to make Richmond become a rich city of people, places, things, and most importantly: memories.
Ella: My top two go-to stores would have to be: New Normal Apparel and Rumors Boutique. It is no coincidence that I have found myself as a public relations intern for both of these shops. As a woman who grew up wearing sweater vests and plaid skirts (or “kilts”, as any Catholic schoolteacher would call it—gag me) for a majority of my life, it only makes sense that the clothes I put on are a direct representation as to who I am and who I want to be. But it goes beyond the clothes I wear, but where these items of self-expression have been found.
New Normal Apparel, just the title of this establishment says it all. The designers of New Normal Apparel, bffs and VCU Art grads, strive to regain what used to be classified as “normal” in the fashion industry. This means models of all shapes and sizes, and eco-friendly American grown and sewn clothing, while building community within Virginia’s state capital: our little rich city. New Normal also wants customer satisfaction to be the norm, therefore checking up on recent customers to make sure they are absolutely satisfied with their purchase. As the designers phrase it, the focus of their store to be a local focal. This entails showcasing non-profits and local artists in the city. How could I not want to represent a company that has made this city that I have called my home feel even more like home? As their campaign goes #iamnewnormal, will you join me?
Now onto Rumors Boutique—this was the first thrift shop I had ever shopped in and I had no clue what I was in for. This company began with two best friends who made their dreams a reality with the establishment of this boutique, and their passion explains the key to their success for the last six years. This is going to be cheesy, but seriously, Adele was right when she sung “Rumor Has It”, because whatever you are looking for, chances are—Rumors Boutique has it (and then some). In fact, some of the most unique items of clothing in my closet are thanks to Rumors Boutique. The best part about Rumors is that it does not cater to one specific style, which only makes sense, since style should never be limited or defined. And Rumors Boutique makes sure that style is anything but limited or defined. Want to dress très chic by day and a rock star by night? Trust me, Rumors’ has it.
Denise: My top two favorite places to eat in Richmond are Comfort and The Village Cafe. I’m consistently broke, but when I get the chance to eat somewhere nice, Comfort would definitely be on my short list. Comfort is located on Broad Street near the hub of art galleries and near Virginia Repertory Theatre. Take the title literally. If you want old-fashioned, Southern comfort food there is no shortage of it. Mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, and the chocolate mousse if the best dessert I’ve ever had. Most of the prices are around twenty dollars, but the portions are gigantic so it’s completely worth it.
For a less expensive option I really like The Village Cafe. Around VCU, this place is a staple. The prices are inexpensive, the food is always good and they serve you diet coke in an individual pitcher (I really like Diet Coke). It can get loud in there sometimes but the design makes you feel at comfy. The walls are covered in photographs, memorabilia and RVA artwork. The service is good and for the impatient ones like me the food turns out pretty quickly. The Village serves a good range of food, so I think everyone could find something they’d enjoy. And just an extra perk, they serve at least ten different milkshake flavors and they’re all really delicious.
Favorite City Spots
Ella: My favorite city spot is The Observation Deck. It pains me to share my favorite spot in the city because it has become my sanctuary. Sorry if that is selfish, but I have known about this spot since my freshmen year of college, and three years later, and it still gets the best of me. As someone who is petrified of heights, it would not make sense that I would enjoy being 18 stories high… but if you only saw the view. Let’s put it this way, the only other time a place has ever taken my breath away was when I saw the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France. Granted I am being a little dramatic, but I have never seen the city look so good.
Denise: My favorite Richmond spot is Agecroft Hall. It is by far the most beautiful place in Richmond, but I don’t think enough people know about it. It’s so beautiful, I feel like it’s the only place where I can take a moment and actually relax. There is the beautiful house itself, gardens and the back terrace where you can see a view of one of the Richmond bridges and some of the city. The story of Agecroft is really amazing. In 1925 the house was dismantled and shipped in crates from the U.K. to Richmond, Virginia. Now, Agecroft stands in a neighborhood near Carytown. You can take a tour of the entire house for only eight dollars or walk through the gardens for free. Also during the summer Richmond Shakespeare performs their summer season in the courtyard (this summer its “Midsummer Night’s Dream” and “Richard III”), similar to how you would see shows during Shakespeare’s time.