EYE ON STYLE: THE RAINBOW FLEET
by Eleni Sinnis
You can spot The Rainbow Fleet from the array of colorful clothing displayed outside: this island consignment shop has rooms filled with everything from Gucci to Forever 21. Kristen Hull started The Rainbow Fleet four years ago, in July 2019, with the mission of trying to “really help people be mindful when they are shopping and to think about the environment.” The store is constantly stocked with new styles and timeless pieces: handbags, designer shoes, boots, fur jackets, jean jackets, sweaters, linen pants, bags, designer bags, necklaces, earrings, broaches, bracelets, sandals, heels, and so much more. Kristen wanted to bring a little color to the island with The Rainbow Fleet and she surely meant it, with the kind and sweet disposition of Kristen and the other workers, the beautiful array of colorful clothing just walking into the store is sure to brighten your day and make you feel at home.
Kristen is a 9th-generation Nantucket local and has lived on-island the majority of her life. She spent her childhood living, working, and shopping at stores around the island. She always searched for unique, expressive clothing and found that a lot of pieces were out of her reach. “I feel like I designed this store for my 15-year-old self,” she commented. Kristen is highly selective and only sells pieces that are in new to excellent condition. She tries to stay away from fast fashion, except for the rare exception of pieces that are good quality and in style at the moment that she believes her customers will love. There are even a few racks of men’s clothes in the store that are filled with Hawaiian shirts, big rock tees, sweatshirts, and vintage Levi’s that Kristen stocks
because she knows women love these items too. She has 600 consignors, a majority of which are local to Nantucket, who help provide her with her amazing selection. When Kristen was living off-island to attend college, she frequented a consignment shop in Amherst. The woman running the shop decided to step down and thought Kristen would be the perfect person to run the store. She became the youngest business owner in Amherst. While managing her own store and then traveling throughout her 20s, she saw many great consignment stores and wondered why Nantucket did not have one.
Back on Nantucket in 2019, Kristen opened The Rainbow Fleet. A friend told her that 167 Orange was available, and from the moment she saw it, Kristen knew exactly what she wanted to do with the space: a consignment store. It would be a perfect adventure. In a matter of two weeks, she created her brand new business, what is today The Rainbow Fleet. She spread the word on Facebook, and on opening day there were customers and consignors there ready to support her. She still works with some of her original consignors.
The name The Rainbow Fleet is probably quite familiar to most Nantucketers, the Marshall Gardiner image depicting the cat boats with bright sails heading around Brant Point is iconic to the island. You can witness this colorful scene this Sunday, during the The Rainbow Fleet Parade at 9 am: the Harbor Start for Opera House Cup Race.
When Kristen was searching for a name for her new store ,she was struggling to find a quintessential Nantucket term that was not already used. She wanted something that would be able to represent the island, but also something that was fun and colorful like the clothes, “everything on the island is gray” she joked. She had a print of the Marshall Gardiner photograph hanging in her house and one day it hit her that it would be the perfect name. To her, it shows a colorful depiction of the town she calls home and displays individuals coming together and representing differences. Kristen also worked at The Toy Boat on Straight Wharf for 14 years: the name was the perfect homage to Loren Brock, the owner who Kristen secribes as “a role model to me in the meticulous and loving way she approached operating her business.” Kristen uses the lessons Loren taught her every day while running The Rainbow Fleet.
The Rainbow Fleet is located at 167 Orange St. mid-island near the Rotary. Be sure to stop by to shop for beautiful designer, vintage, and modern clothing and accessories and to support a local female-owned business.