Jennifer and Kilby Bronstein, mother and daughter, are a formidable team who have recently brought their enthusiasm for retail fashion to Charleston and, more specifically, to the Finicky Filly, the long-established women’s clothing boutique at 303 King St.
Previous owner Judy Casey has been friends with the Bronsteins since 2015, well before their purchase of her business. The three of them first connected when the Bronsteins were on one of many trips to visit sister Ryan, who was attending the College of Charleston. The first encounter between these friends transpired the day after Hurricane Joaquin made its devastating path through town. Once the sun came out the Sunday following, the Bronsteins set out from their hotel to explore and in the process found only one shop on King Street to be open, the Finicky Filly. They decided to drop in. As luck would have it, Casey was the only one in the shop that day, and as the Bronsteins were the only customers, they struck up a long conversation and became fast friends.
At that same time, the Bronsteins were getting ready to open their own clothing boutique in Buffalo, New York, which would be named Half & Half, reflecting their concept to provide clothing both for younger women, like Kilby, and for older women, like mother Jennifer. This family-owned, women’s lifestyle clothing store would not only promote quality apparel for women but would also be committed to reinvesting in the community. During the early conversations between the Bronsteins and Casey, it became clear the trio shared many common interests, in particular their passions for community activism and their respective businesses.
In the years that followed, these friends traveled together, attending apparel and clothing events in New York City and Los Angeles. On these excursions, they explored new styles and labels and encouraged one another to expand the fashion lines at their boutiques. When the time came in early 2023 for Casey to sell her long-running Finicky Filly, it seemed a natural progression for the Bronsteins to carry on with her work. In addition to loving Casey’s store and knowing it well, the time was also right for the Bronsteins to put down roots in Charleston, a place they had enjoyed visiting for years. And so began the transfer in ownership.
Loyal customers of the Finicky Filly can rest assured that the Bronsteins intend to carry on the personalized shopping experience and couture collections they have come to expect. The store carries ETRO, Peserico, Cinq à Sept, Anna Maria Paletti, Fabiana Filippi Collection, L’Agence and Pierre-Louis Mascia.
“We are always seeking out unique items—pieces that will be showstoppers—in beautiful, distinctive fabrics. And as we buy, we are putting together an entire ‘collection,’ items that will connect all the necessary components for creating the perfect outfit or wardrobe,” says Kilby Bronstein about the buying process, which now includes traveling to Paris and Milan. And to Finicky Filly’s benefit, Casey and the Bronsteins maintain their close friendship, a part of which includes Casey’s continued involvement with the shop and being part of their European buying excursions.
In addition to bringing sophisticated clothing lines to Charleston, the Finicky Filly offers five-star customer service. As patrons arrive at the shop, they are greeted by sales staff and offered a glass of champagne, and should they desire, are given a tour of the boutique’s current collections. From there, staff take notes on sizes and wardrobe needs, then assist customers in gathering items to try on, remaining at the client’s beck and call throughout the process.
The Bronsteins want every visitor to feel as though they have a personal shopper at their disposal, a knowledgeable associate who can help put all the pieces together, be it for a single outfit or a seasonal wardrobe. In some cases, tailoring may also be desired, and the Finicky Filly partners with a seamstress at a shop adjacent to the boutique. “We want this to be like a cocktail hour—come in, relax and enjoy a bit of bubbly (or a nice beer for the men who are patiently tagging along) and leave with just the right ensemble,” says Bronstein. “And we’d like to have the opportunity to get to know you, to give you a tour of our latest and greatest, and to understand which items pique your interest.”
A major attraction at the Finicky Filly is the extensive dress collection, which Bronstein describes as classic and cosmopolitan in styles that are feminine and pretty. Customers will also find pants, blouses, jackets and other outwear, jewelry, scarves and assorted accessories; it’s an exciting collection that changes seasonally.
Bronstein describes their good intentions for Finicky Filly and their desire to connect with Charleston, their new community. “It is my goal to begin working with charities local to this area, just as I have in my previous community in Buffalo,” she says. “It is vitally important to us to be a supporting neighbor. We are not just a boutique or a business—we are a family. I want my customers to feel well taken care of, to enjoy purchasing something lovely to wear but to also be connected to something beyond, to a cause that is also beautiful. In my estimation, it is not just what you wear that makes you beautiful but what you do.” *
Christina Andrews is a freelance writer from the Napa Valley who specializes in personal and business bios, food and wine, visual arts, music, hospitality, the event industry, community interest stories, obituaries and political satire.