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Just like its name, the Kaleidoscope Boutique aims to offer the most vibrant assortment possible.
This story first appeared in the October 2, 2002 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
As the name implies, the Kaleidoscope Boutique offers a stimulating assortment of constantly changing clothing, music and clientele.
“One definition [of kaleidoscope] actually means ‘to look at beauty through form,’” said owner Camille Wright. The store attracts all nationalities, plays everything from Journey to techno and receives daily shipments of offbeat, colorful clothing.
Wright began laying the groundwork for her vision of variety, which came to fruition in May 2001, when she landed her first job at Marshalls at 16. She worked at Contempo Casuals, advancing to the number two sales position in the country, then received a call from Belk, a Southeast department store chain, to become a buyer. The 1 1/2-year-old store is painted a sunny yellow, a perfect a backdrop for prisms throwing off colored light and light fixtures and mirrors decorated with glass beads.
In February, she signed a lease for an 1,100-square-foot space in the heart of Decatur, Ga., a town of 17,000 just southeast of Atlanta. Though it bustles with retail activity now, Wright said Decatur was in desperate need of something on the hipper side at the time. Heading to markets in New York, Atlanta and Miami, she buys a range of everything from contemporary labels like Rayure Paris, Betsey Johnson, Liquid and Nanette Lepore to denim brands like Joe’s Jeans, Vitamina and Buffalo Jeans to T-shirts by E.vil, Marteeni Spice and Beau & Eros.
Prices run from $35 for a cotton E.vil T-shirt to $300 for an slinky A.B.S. evening dress. France and South America are other hunting grounds for hot labels. With 20 percent of inventory in special occasion, a great find has been Val Design, an eveningwear firm based in São Paolo, Brazil.
“They do the most ridiculously beautiful dresses, like something one would wear to the Academy Awards, in chiffon or matte jersey with bugle beads and sequins,” she said.
Two other important special occasion lines are local. T.T., designed by a Nigerian transplant, sells to more avant-garde types in Atlanta’s music industry, according to Wright. One popular T.T. look: an off-the-shoulder corset top with matching skirt in green suede and leather patchwork with a lace-up back.
Her customers, the majority of which are professionals, prefer a more classic approach, and aren’t too keen on mall trends, Wright said. “They need formal wear for dinners and balls, funky weekend wear and cool tops to pair with more conservative suits during the work week,” said Wright.
Wright said she is recognized for purses too. Better-known brands are Lily Scott and Lulu Guinness. Some newcomers are Your Sister’s Mustache, made from vintage newspapers and sporting pin-up girl themes, and Fork Girl, which has skinny rectangular purses made from vintage silk or tapestry, topped with handles made from forks.
Jewelry designer Chris Vigliotti has a following among career women looking for a signature piece. Elements include freshwater pearls, Austrian crystals, topaz and turquoise. Prices range from $30 for hematite and sterling earrings to $250 for a smoky topaz and turquoise necklace.
Wright shows off complete ensembles through fashion shows at local restaurants.
“We show clothes far in advance of the season and give them little notepads to write down orders, just like New York fashion shows,” she said. Special events at the store include wine-and-cheese nights on Thursdays and “Mimosa Mondays,” a new happy-hour event. Shoppers receive 20% off select designers at the events, which are advertised in Jezebel and other local publications.
Wright said she is on track for her 2002 sales goal of $325,000, with sales solidified by hits like Robin Jordan’s strapless dresses. “They arrive on Thursday and are sold out by Saturday,” she said.