WWD.com/fashion-news/fashion-features/forces-of-attraction-748480/
View Slideshow

Whether they’re coming back from Wrigley Field or visiting a nearby car wash, passersby are drawn to Lakeview boutique Krista K.

This story first appeared in the October 9, 2002 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Shortly after Krista Kaur Meyers opened Krista K in May on Southport Avenue in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood, she found that business was coming out of an unlikely source: a nearby car wash.

Meyers knew the street — lined with popular restaurants, watering holes and gift shops — had a substantial amount of pedestrian traffic, but the 1999 graduate of Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management never predicted the influx of car-wash customers. “I guess it’s a really good car wash,” she said.

Another source of customer spillover: Wrigley Field, the renowned home of the Chicago Cubs. “We had huge days,” she said. “People park here and stop by after the games.”

The steady flow of customers forces Meyers to be an astute visual merchandiser. “We try to change our window once or twice a week,” she said. “We want to make it constantly interesting, fresh and fun to come in.”

Architect Madeleine Boos — with some help from Meyers — designed the 1,000-square-foot, first-floor retail area, which features sea-green walls, and a comfy leather sofa.

“Soothing colors are what I’m into now,” she said. “I wanted to do something different and friendly, like a friend’s home.”

Business has been brisk since she opened the store in May. “It’s been terrific,” said Meyers, who added that first-month sales were within $1,000 of plan. “People have been like, ‘finally; we needed this.” (Another recent arrival: The Red Head Boutique, profiled on page 77.)

Meyers has carved her own niche, catering to the thirtysomething woman who is stylish and current, but not overly trendy. On the denim front, for example, Seven jeans sold out within 10 days of the store’s opening. “Women just eat them up,” Meyers said. “I’m looking for the next Seven, but I haven’t found them yet.”

Meyers is excited about an order for Habitual jeans, which run around $165 and feature unique stitching, cargo pockets and green and gray washes.

Customers also clamor for dresses to wear on dates, weddings and other special occasions, she said. So Krista K carries several feminine lines, including Beth Bowley, a New York designer whose summer floral-print and lace-trim dresses sold for between $230 and $330.

“Helen Wang also has done well for weddings,” Meyers noted, pointing out a black wrap polyester dress with lace trim ($255).

Additionally, the store sells William B separates, including wide-leg blue and white-striped trousers for $194, as well as Tibi’s print sundresses for $243 and floral skirts for $172 for the warmer months.

For fall, Meyers offers $288 William B black wool pants with a black leather waistband that laced up like a belt and a $481 wool tweed Chanel-inspired blazer by Tibi. The store also sells romantic Rebecca Taylor blouses, which retail between $220 and $265.

Krista K customers also have embraced Liz Lange maternity wear, which accounts for approximately 10 percent of the store’s business. “This line has been wildly successful,” she added. “I’ve sold out of 65 percent of her things.”

Top sellers included a cotton peasant top for $110 in white, red and black and a white cotton and Lycra spandex spaghetti-strap tank top for $40. For holiday, Meyers ordered Liz Lange $175 black velvet pants and a $275 faux wrap black with gold jersey long dress and $165 ivory chiffon blouse with ruffles at the edge of the three-quarter sleeves.

So far, Meyers said she is pleased with the store’s varied selection. “All the lines I’ve bought I’ll keep,” Meyers said. “There haven’t been any dogs.”

For spring, Meyers noted the trend toward tunics, Twenties-inspired dropped-waist dresses, distressed denim and cargo pants and skirts. “The cargo look will be popular,” she said. “I’ll just have to make sure it’s wearable and that the pockets aren’t in unflattering places.”

Meyers estimates sales for next year at $800,000.

That’s good news for Meyers who launched her business during a rough economic climate. She was in the middle of completing her business plan, looking at locations and investigating financing when the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks occurred.

“I was concerned about consumer confidence, but I was too excited and too invested — I just had to go through with it,” said Meyers. “Williams-Sonoma is great at creating a consumer experience,” she said. “One of the things I wanted to do was make it a warm, friendly environment.”

View Slideshow