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Finding richness in retail


Seek and you shall find nestled in the nooks and crannies of sunny Los Angeles some of the most valued and priceless brands, the most coveted beat to every fashion elites’ heart–an eclectic collection of high-end boutiques owned by African Americans.

In a time where many brands have been overexposed, oversaturated and seen on what seems like every self-proclaimed fashionista in the city, it has become increasingly difficult to find small treasures that have not hit the masses. In this land where exclusivity is king and client services trump everything, a group of new boutique owners have reigned victorious with their unique appeal, exquisite eye for quality and luxurious taste, not to mention decoding the formula to understanding how to make it in America.

“When they step into our dressing room, they become our canvas, and we start painting,” says Red Bag Boutique co-owner Candance Simmons.

Simmons and her partner China Robinson, who both share a passion for beautiful garb (not to mention that China is the mother of supermodel Chanel Iman) opened the doors of Red Bag Boutique in May of last year in the heart of Culver City. From a dinner among longtime friends, a vision was born, and in only six weeks, that vision became reality. Red Bag Boutique was created with the plan to bring affordable style and class to the lady’s hometown. It carries a combination of new merchandise and vintage items.

One of the keys to owning a successful retail space is the relationship one has with clients and the way you interact with them. Simmons adds: “In most retail experiences you walk around, pick up a few items and go into a dressing room. When you shop here, we take people out of their box. People stop in and end up walking out with things they do not have in their closet and things that really make them feel good.”

These two ladies are not afraid to listen to their demographic and respond to what it is that their clients are asking for, a key factor in return business.

Equipped with tons of the hottest brands, including Parker, their secret weapon is not customer service but a back room stocked with must-haves. From both the 20s, 40s and even up to last season, customers find vintage Gucci, St. John, Oscar De La Renta and Chanel. If that isn’t enough, there is also a section of the store with pieces from Chanel Iman’s closet.

And then there is LeBloc. From Raphael Young to Cheap Monday, like its co-owner Keana Essex, LeBloc is making a statement, and it is garnering everyone’s attention. LeBloc is one of the newest and most elite boutiques to hit the streets of La-La Land. After initially opening as a pop-up shop, [a store intending to remain in a location only an short time] the store looks to be here to stay.

Founded with idea of uniting service and style, this exclusive retail store (which keeps its location low-key) allows its customers to indulge in a full-service experience, including wardrobe styling, personal shopping and fashion education.

With an interest in becoming a stylist Keana began to focus on her desire to dress women. “My mother was a stylist, but she always told me that the pay never really equated to the amount of work that you did. So I thought that a good way for me to style women would be for me to control the buy of a boutique. So I decided I wanted to open a boutique.”

After spending two years learning the ropes at Ron Herman, a popular Beverly Hills boutique where she met her future partner (Andre Litow), LeBloc devised a plan for her venture. Initially, the desire was to tackle online shopping as well as opening a few pop-ups around the country. But their first pop-up was such a success, they revised the business plan to reflect a permanent brick-and-mortar spot.

LeBloc is filled with amazing contemporary goodies from brands such as Joy Rich to Australian brand One Teaspoon. This elite fashion haven plans to increase its clientele in the next five years by focusing on top-notch customer service. “We definitely want to make money, but this is not a get-rich-quick scheme.”

While other retailers are cutting back on their services and increasing the amount of product to increase revenue, these retailers have redefined service, taking a customer and turning them into a life-long client. It is this ideology paired with an amazing product mix that keep these business at the top.