This month we have featured women in Louisville who work behind the scenes to accomplish all things Derby, from the hats to the parties to the dresses. One woman in particular not only concentrates on styling during Derby, but pretty much year-round. She guides us on all things Lilly Pulitzer in Louisville, and since she is a native, she knows just what her audience is looking to wear for that certain occasion. When she’s not busy making all of us look pretty, she’s an avid reader who has spent 20 years in the same book club, a book club that she founded, no less! Meet our newest FACE of Louisville, Jane Bennett of the Peppermint Palm.
Tell us a little about your different careers. What brought you to this point in your life, managing Peppermint Palm?
I always enjoyed the fashion industry and clothing. In 1983, when I was working to pay my way through Bellarmine University, I started as a sales associate in the juniors department at Bacon’s Department Store. I was hired upon graduation as a department manager then promoted to senior buyer and eventually was promoted to divisional merchandise manager for the women’s division for 21 stores. After working for Bacon’s for 14 years, I was fortunate enough to become a full-time stay-at-home mom and volunteer. My husband John and I are blessed to have two sons, William and Matthew, and a daughter, Lillian. Once I decided to get back into the workforce, I worked for Girl Scouts of Kentuckiana for a year, then happened upon a job opening at the Peppermint Palm. I have been the manager and buyer for the Peppermint Palm for almost four years. The buying and managing responsibilities along with the store location and business hours were a perfect job match for me.
What do you think has kept Lilly Pulitzer so successful and on trend for all these years?
Lilly has always been a leader in custom prints and designs. All of the Lilly prints are hand-painted with their own custom colors. Lilly has a classic and resort-lifestyle feel, along with quality designs and fabrics. I fondly remember my mom wearing a long Lilly shift dress going out to a dinner and dance when I was little. The brand has multi-generational appeal, which has stood the test of time. Lilly also has launched collaborations with other retailers, and this year’s Pottery Barn collaboration was a success.
What is your Derby experience like at the Peppermint Palm?
Derby time is an exciting and fun time at the Peppermint Palm. We are a one-stop shop for all of your Derby outfit needs — dresses, sweater wraps, shoes, handbags, jewelry — and we also sell Derby hats and fascinators from Hats Off by Helen. We help our customers pick out the perfect outfit for any and all Derby events, from the horse races to the steamboat race. Over the summer, our dressing rooms were hand-painted, and this delights all of our customers. These last four years, Peppermint Palm and Lilly Pulitzer have been able to dress the Kentucky Derby Festival Princesses for the Oaks or the Fillies running for the Lillies.
You make people look pretty and stylish for your job. What do you do for yourself to feel the same?
I am able to go on the Lilly buying trips and get to see what is coming in, so I have my eye on certain Lilly pieces I want for my own wardrobe. I do wear Lilly to work and also around town. I shop at other local boutiques as well to support other local small businesses.
What is the most challenging part of your job, and what’s the most rewarding?
The most challenging part is making sure that I have the appropriate sizes in the store so that I can outfit all shapes and sizes. Luckily, Peppermint Palm has a location in Lexington, so we are able to share sizes we need quickly. The most rewarding part is having a customer in the store enjoying her experience shopping with us and feeling good about her purchases. I especially enjoy when a mother and daughter both come in together, and I can help them each find a perfect outfit.
What are three words that describe you?
Honest, vivacious and friendly
If you were not in your current job, what would you secretly love to do?
I love making pies both sweet and savory, so I guess I would open a pie shop in a resort ski town!
What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
I am the youngest of eight children, and my mom was 47 when I was born. I had my last child at 35, and I cannot imagine having the energy at 47 to have raised a newborn.
What advice do you treasure?
My parents were always supportive and encouraging with me when I was growing up, and I have treasured being able to pay it forward with my own three children.
Fill in the blank. You’ll never see me without my __________.
Where can we find you hanging out around town?
I really enjoy being at home with family and friends. I am able to walk to the park and local restaurants. I try to get on the tennis court as much as possible to play and also to watch my daughter play on her high school tennis team.
Tell us some of your favorite local restaurants.
For lunch, I like Kayrouz Cafe, Cheddar Box Too, Blue Dog, Lotsa Pasta and Coals Artisan Pizza, which are all close to the store. For dinner, I enjoy Jack Fry’s, Red Hog, Eiderdown and Manhattan Project for now. We are so lucky to be a great foodie town, and I like to patronize local establishments.
What’s on your personal reading list right now?
I started a book club in 1998, and it’s still going strong. We meet monthly, and this month we are reading The Perfect Nanny by Leila Slimani. Some of my favorites have been In Cold Blood, Into Thin Air, Angela’s Ashes and The Greatest Generation.
What are three of your favorite things right now?
1. Using the treadmill every morning
2. Helping plan my 35th high school reunion — I love reconnecting with my Sacred Heart Academy classmates.
3. Cooking while following the Whole30 plan — cutting out carbs and dairy has been a challenge.
To be inspired by other great women in Louisville, check out our other FACES of Louisville here.