By Andrea Harwood Palmer
Natalie Sillery is in her 25th year as owner of Saratoga Trunk at 493 Broadway in Saratoga Springs and shows no signs of slowing down.
“My husband and I were in print publishing back in the 80s in New York City,” said Sillery. “I grew up in Rensselaer. My parents were getting older and infirmed. Our business ended after 12 years or so, and we moved from New York City to the town of Brunswick.”
“I was caring for my mom, who had slow progressive dementia moving into an Alzheimer’s situation. I also had a great aunt I was caring for. I took my mom in with me, and my dad had 24 hour care. I knew I had to work for myself,” said Sillery.
She put together a couple business plans.
“It could have been a bookstore, it could have been a clothing store. I went with the clothing store,” said Sillery. “I opened Saratoga Trunk with clothes, hats, jewelry and accessories downstairs. Upstairs, I carried more upscale and by appointment items. I learned who the ladies of distinction were and started dressing them exclusively. I had a home service.”
She continued to get busier and busier with her clothing store, in addition to being an FM radio talk show host, doing voice-over work and appearing regularly on television.
“I was blessed to have met all my best friends through owning my store,” said Sillery. “A group of women, all ages, we would do fashion shows. I started doing 20 fashion shows a year, all over the Capital Region. I don’t think there’s a venue in Saratoga or the Capital Region that I haven’t done a fashion show for. We were the first in town in the 90s to do the hat fashion shows for breakfast at the track.”
As time went on, Sillery would rush home an hour and ten minutes away and take care of her mom.
Prior to her mother passing, Sillery’s dad passed away in 1999. In 2004, her husband began to get ill. They sold their home in Brunswick and moved to East Greenbush. Sillery moved Saratoga Trunk from 487 Broadway to 493 Broadway, where she is currently located.
Sillery’s husband passed away in 2009. They had been together 33 years.
Since the late 1990s, Sillery has been producing a yearly bridal fashion show for charity to benefit the Ronald McDonald House. Last year was the final year of the show, with over $1.9 million raised since its inception.
“I had the good fortune of having the Trunkettes, my friends and family, as part of these fashion shows,” said Sillery. “We were a good team and we raised a lot of money for a good cause.”
“The most exciting thing happening right now is that I’ve resurrected my producing of a fashion show. It’s my way of giving back to the nonprofits that I love,” said Sillery.
On Aug. 23, Sillery will produce the first annual AIM Services Fashion Show at the 1863 Club at the Saratoga Race Course.
“It’s all about inclusion and diversity, and giving people a chance to have a great time modeling beautiful clothes,” said Sillery.
“With the good fortune of good friends, family and the Trunkettes, my shop was never just about selling dresses. It was about making a difference. It was about connecting people to other people, which in turn gave them new opportunities, new jobs, new ventures. Just seeing the potential for so many things,” said Sillery.
“My motto for the past 25 years has been, ‘where your style is our pleasure’,” said Sillery. “I’ll be doing this until rigor mortis sets in.”
By Andrea Harwood Palmer