When did tobi open and what was the inspiration behind it?
tobi opened June 2006.  It was founded by Catherine Chow, Corina Nurimba and Ken Chen.  The inspiration behind tobi was customer service.  Ken had shopped at Azalea; Catherine and Corina’s brick and Mortar store in Hayes Valley in San Francisco and thought the service was extraordinary.  They wanted to bring this service to On-line shopping.  We strive everyday to give our customers attention and to make things as clear and easy as possible.  We want our customers to have a wonderful on-line shopping experience.

How does the visual of tobi brand your retail indenity and affect customers' shopping experience?

Catherine, Corina and Ken wanted to keep the design clean and simple.  The clothing is what they wanted to stand out.  The clean aesthetic is still want we at tobi strive for.  We keep improving year after year but try to maintain what we truly believe in.
How long has tobi been carrying Spiewak?  Why do you and  your customers like Spiewak?  Do you have any favorite winter Spiewak jackets?
tobi has been carrying Spiewak for about 3 or 4 years.  I came to tobi at the end of 2007 from NYC where Spiewak outerwear is a must have during the winter.  The reason why customers and I love Spiewak is as follows.  The styles are fashionable, wearable, durable, practical and the price point is amazing.  My favorite Spiewak Jacket is the N3B Snorkel Parka.  This Parka has saved me many times during a NY Blizzard or winter rain storm.

Besides Spiewak, what are other lines that inspire you and inspire loyalty in your customers?
We are very lucky to have a very loyal customer base.  We have been carrying many of the same brands since the inception of tobi and many lines inspire me.  Some inspire me because of their beautiful lines and fabrics.  Others because of how they make women and men feel.  It is wonderful to know that a pair of jeans for instance can make someone feel confident.  J Brand is one of those brands that totally inspire me.  They continuously re-invent themselves; however, never lose sight of their loyal customer and their basic styles that fit a myriad of bodies.  They now have a strong men’s division as well and are focused on offering the very best for their man.

What are the two most important pieces every man and woman needs to add to their wardrobe for winter?
Every man should buy a good pair of boots, such as Red Wing’s Classic Work Boots. A nice piece of outerwear is also important like Spiewak’s Wilson herringbone coat.  As for women, they too need a good pair of boots and a nice jacket that can take her from work to evening. Try Spiewak Fairbanks hooded coat with a pair of Loeffler Randall Matilde Boots.
What are your personal favorite items at tobi right now?

I have a lot of personal favorites on Tobi right now, but my absolute favorites are the following:
     S.W.O.R.D. Roma Jacket in Grey Wash Black 
     DRKSHDW by Rick Owens Explorer Combo Jacket
     MML Maison Martin Margiela Short Oilded Leather Wedge Boots
     Alexander Wang Draped Asymmetrical Dress with Scarf Detail
     Nine in the Morning Skin Sensation Ankle Skinny Jeans in Rose 
     Jas M.B. Traveller Small Doctor’s Bag
Do you have any upcoming store events?
tobi is working on lots of events with our brands.  We will have giveaway contests for the Holidays.  As well as video interviews with some of our designers.   For 2011 we will have even more marketing initiatives and events.  We want our customers to feel involved.

Do your travels influence your purchases?  Do you have any exciting trips coming up?
Yes my travels do influence my purchases.  I feel that I live on a plane and I don’t even travel as much as many other people.  I fly about 75,000 miles a year and always look for pieces that are  fashionable and comfortable.  I need pieces that  can take me from the airport straight to a meeting.  I am going to travel home to NY for Christmas to see my family.  I will for sure buy a good pair of boots that can be worn in the snow as well as to dinner.  I am also looking for a new Spiewak jacket.  But it will never replace my favorite N3B Snorkel.

What was your first job in the apparel industry?
My first job in the apparel industry was at a denim store called Exclusive in Queens, NY when I was in High School.  I loved it so much.  Helping customers find the perfect fitting jean was so satisfying.  I landed my first buying job in 2003 at Atrium NYC.  Buying for a store was equally satisfying; I was able to pick out all of the beautiful styles for my customer.  I always thought of fit, body shapes, height and price point.  Being a buyer is satisfying in a different way.  I love both buying and sales.

Check out Spiewak's women's styles on
Check out Spiewak's men's styles on


1. whatever

2. Thanks for the great favorites list! And I love entering the holidays giveaway contest on tobi.

3. Great info. Loving the spiewak coats and I love my Loeffler Randall Matilde Boots. Tobi has such a great range of stuff.

4. Thanks for all the great info - your favorites list is awesome!!

5. Dig it

6. Great article. Tobi has a very eclectic range of fashion on a site that's easy to navigate. Keep up the amazing work Jen.


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