|Lesley with Dotty. Photo by Lara Rossignol|
Lesley already sells her clothing in 200 boutiques around the US but this is her first eponymous shop, selling clothing as well as jewelry, scarves, bags and i-phone covers. The area she's in is called Rockridge, a leafy shopping district with more than 40 restaurants, as well as bakeries, gourmet ice cream parlours, boutiques, bookshops and hairdressers.
In order to make the store more personal, she collected the Sixties and Seventies furniture and light fixtures from Alameda Flea Market and made the orange velvet curtains from vintage fabric. Her husband, Curtis, took some branches, spray painted them gold and tied them with rope. He also spray painted an Italianate table bought on ebay and built the counter and dressing rooms. The oil paintings are all by Lesley.
Jennifer who owns Bella Vita, a vintage and new boutique one block away, helped with the "merchandising" - that is, how the clothes are styled and displayed in the store. Jennifer previously worked for Gap and is really talented at creating visual treats.
Lesley's aim was to make the store fresh, modern and welcoming. "It was fun but really hard putting it all together. Having Jennifer's expertise was critical. I don't know anything about retail, though I'm learning quickly! As it is I have to make so many decisions every day, but this was a whole new category that I was unfamiliar with. Thankfully it's done and it's going really well!"
I asked Lesley for her first impressions on opening:
1. So great to be next the the toy store (Rockridge Kids) lots of moms buying birthday presents. The hair salons are good too! Means lots of people are walking by.
2. We're on a corner next to a bus stop and fire hydrant. This turns out to be a big plus - no one can park and block the windows from the sight of people driving down the street (the man who painted our window sign pointed this out to me.)
3. There is no way to guess what day will be busy - a rainy Wednesday was our busiest day yet!
4. The interior was hard - too many decisions! I thought we could do it in 2 weeks but it took 6. Our second store will be much easier since we would try to duplicate the first one.
5. It's important to have a variety of price points. We try to have jewelry that starts at $15 and top out with a coat at $345. Sometimes people want to leave with something without spending a lot of money.
Thanks Lesley - wait - you're already talking about a second store? As one of her love-heart candies say: Dream Big.
Now, if you had a store, what would it sell? (Mine would all my favourites: fish and chips, toweling cover-ups, tiaras and cashmere cardigans. Amazed it hasn't already been done.)