Despite the economy, there are reassuring signs of life: small boutiques opening up. Some of these business owners have, in fact, been able to hang their shingle because of the opportunities they found during the downturn, such as less expensive rents and available real estate. The resulting boutiques are small gems, offering big-city style.
This chic boutique is beautifully decorated by owner Micah Iaukea (photo at right), and designed to appeal to two markets. “My theory is to do vintage in a boutique setting so that someone who normally isn’t into vintage will be more open to it. Yet for vintage lovers, they can still find what they want,” she explains. She has a background in fashion design but chose vintage because, she says, “I’ve always enjoyed treasure hunting.” After living in Los Angeles, Iaukea returned home to open her dream shop.
Cloth offers one-of-a-kind pieces for men and women, as well as accessories and home décor items. Most are from the 1960s and 1970s, though clothing from the 1930s to 1950s has been spotted. Iaukea warns, “Those don’t stay in the store for long!”
“Some of the clothes are statement-makers, others are more wearable today,” she says. Iaukea has also reconstructed some of the clothing to tailor it to contemporary tastes, and offers complimentary in-store alterations. “I have my machine right in the store,” she notes, and can usually have things ready for their new owner by the next day.
Prices run from about $20 for a men’s shirt or women’s skirt to about $120 for a dress.
“I hope people feel like they can play,” says Iaukea. “Vintage isn’t necessarily meant to be taken seriously.”
909 Kapiolani Blvd., 597-9006. Hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Park on the ground floor level.
While you’re in the neighborhood:
Shop for Roberto Coin jewelry in 18K, yellow, white and rose gold at Elle Couture Jewellers. This boutique has a private-shopping feel to it, and you can make appointments for just that. Lance Ishibashi, creative director, notes that Roberto Coin jewelry is known for its intricate, feminine pieces. Prices are $1,000 and up, though you can find simple pendants for $150. 909 Kapiolani Blvd. Suite A, 591-8080. Hours: Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The former occupant, Cupcake Boutique, has moved to a larger store; hopefully this space will have the same positive growth vibes for Dolce. Owner Christie Yang (photo above) opened Dolce in November of 2008. It’s her first store, but she’s been in retail for 16 years—half her life. She was employed for many years at Ralph Lauren, and even worked with the man himself at his East Hampton, N.Y. store.
At Dolce, Yang offers clothing for women, focusing on brands that are exclusive to her store. The styles are mostly from New York designers, plus a few from Los Angeles, and the aesthetic is airy, flattering and simple. For example, the vivid colors and light fabric of the Calypso silk dresses (around $275) would fit right in at special Island occasions. Also hot sellers: handcrafted, gold-vermeil bangle bracelets.
A word to serious shoppers: Check out the store’s press book to see what’s coming, so that you can get yourself on the wait list Yang maintains for her clients.
Ward Centre, 596-9436. Hours: Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., www.dolcehonolulu.com.
While you’re in the neighborhood:
Fans of women’s boutique Misfortune will be happy to see that the store has reopened in its old location, under new management. Ward Centre, 593-7886. Monday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
“My whole life, I’ve wanted to do this,” says Olive Boutique owner Ali McMahon (seen in photo above), glancing around her store. “I grew up here, then lived in Seattle for 11 years. I couldn’t believe that Kailua still had this opportunity.”
Olive Boutique reflects McMahon’s visual merchandising background, with a hip-yet-effortless sensibility. “I wanted to bring to Kailua what people usually have to go into town to shop for,” she says, with brands such as Ella Moss, Bobi, Saint Grace and Kersh. One of her goals is to carry things that are made in the United States. “I’m very conscious of that,” she says.
Other goodies worth checking out: racks of cool wrapping paper and cards, and jewelry by Kailua-based designer Jojo Ponciano.
43 Kihapai St., 263-9919. Hours: Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday, 10 to 4 p.m. Closed Sunday. Free parking in the back of the store, or use the metered parking out front. www.iheartolive.com.
Cookie Clothing Co.
Christina Cook was ready. Her clothes were shipped. The MBA program in entrepreneurship was waiting in San Francisco. And then her mom told her that the space that had formerly housed Koko Cabana boutique was available. It was the perfect spot for her to open a store.
“So split-second decision, we decided to do it,” says Cook, whose nickname is Cookie. “We worked day and night for two weeks to get the store open and opened Dec. 12.”
It might have been a sudden opportunity, but Cook was hardly a novice. She was raised in the clothing industry—“I’ve been going to trade shows since I was a toddler”—with her parents, Howard and Darcy, who were partners in the founding of Bebe and Bebe Sport.
Cook says her mom gave her some advice when it comes to stocking a store: “You can’t buy for a store just with your closet in mind,” she recalls Darcy telling her. “You have to shop for a wide range of people. I wear edgier stuff, more fashion-forward. I learned that you have to do the conservative along with the rhinestones.”
Cookie Clothing Co. has about six designer lines, with prices just above $100, but much of it is less, around $30 to $50, to let women mix and match, Cook says. In the future, she may do higher-end clothing, but, for now, her mantra is “fun, flirty and affordable.”
Koko Marina Shopping Center, 396-2665. Hours: daily, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., except until 8 p.m. Saturday and sometimes on Friday.
Next door to Olive (page 36), you’ll find Flower Child, which carries new and second-hand men’s and women’s clothing, as well as art.
Owners Hawley and Todd Quick have been collecting vintage clothing for years, and when they found a 12-month lease in what had been the office of an air-conditioning company, decided the time was right to open a store.
The Kailua-based couple offer vintage muumuu and aloha shirts—with labels like Liberty House—and tiki items, as well as more recent consignment clothing. In new merchandise, they focus on dresses and skirts in prints and fabrics from India and Indonesia. You’ll also find black Tahitian pearls, photos and jewelry by Kailua artists, and leather bags.
Hawley Quick notes that the price tags in the store run from around $6 to $200, and that even in a recession, “People still like to shop. It makes them happy.”
41 Kihapai St., 263-0288. Hours: Tuesday through Friday, 10:30 to 5:30, Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Closed Sunday and Monday.
While you’re in the neighborhood:
Philanthropy by Madison and Co. has been redecorated and named, but has maintained its affordable gifts, women’s clothing and accessories, from brands such as Quiksilver and Roberta Oaks. 337 Uluniu St., 266-5000. Hours: Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Annabella Boutique has a welcoming, butterscotch color scheme and inexpensive, beach-town-worthy fashions. Think dresses, tops and earrings—all perfect for throwing on over a swimsuit to head for that 5 p.m. gin and tonic. 767 Kailua Road, #104, 263-6616. Hours: Daily, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
More New and Noteworthy Boutiques
Former architects Jeremy Shoda and Michelle Kaneko have turned their considerable creative talents to Shop Toast, a teeny boutique showcasing their custom party favors and “festive gift things.” Shop Toast opened in January, and is a continuation of the products Shoda and Kanekeo have been selling online. The most popular party favors are the Mini Pops, says Shoda, which look like soda bottles and are filled with snacks, from kakimochi to M&Ms. The Love Fruits, another best seller, are a capsule of candy or snack packaged as a rubbery skinned “fruit.”
3434 Waialae Ave. (between Eighth and Ninth Avenues, across from Town, look for the orange door), 447-9233. Hours: Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 12 p.m. to 6 p.m., or by appointment. www.shoptoast.com.
Two stylish sisters, Cheryl DeAngelo and Brandy Antonelis, are behind this purple boutique, on the second floor of Manoa Marketplace. Adoracion opened last fall and unlike many hipster spots, offers clothing and accessories for men and children in addition to women’s clothing. Prices are non-guilt-inducing, too—a necklace for $16, for example, or a denim pencil skirt for $72. Manoa Marketplace, 2752 Woodlawn Drive, 988-7232.
Hours: Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Closed Sundays. www.adoracionboutique.com.