NEW YORK — Christiane Celle has never been one to bake idly on the sand. Her calling is helping others enjoy the resort lifestyle.
Calypso, which started with one laid-back store in St. Barth’s, has grown to become a $50 million to $60 million empire with a wholesale business, fragrance division and retail network of 20 stores, including the company’s first international unit in the 16th arrondissemont in Paris.
“It’s a very high-end neighborhood,” Celle said. “It’s like a Madison Avenue location. It’s got a lot of tourists and the Hotel George V. I didn’t pick a trendy part of Paris like the Meatmarket District because the clientele I have in Paris is definitely chic.”
The two-level, 2,000-square-foot Calypso Christiane Celle store in the City of Light is expected to do $2 million a year in sales.
Celle, who opens three to five stores a year, said London and Japan are next on her agenda. The stores are something of a phenomenon, producing sales of $1,000 to $2,000 per square foot, far above the industry norm.
“In the near future I’ll open corners in different countries,” she added. “I still have stores to open [in the U.S.] in Washington, D.C., San Francisco and Las Vegas.”
In July, Calypso will unveil a 2,000-square-foot store in Highland Park Village in Dallas, which is estimated to do $2 million in its first year.
Celle’s story is by now the stuff of legend in retail circles. In 1992 she opened a 300-square-foot Calypso boutique in St. Barthelemy, which was a hit. Two years later, she fell in love with a French photographer, sold her store to a friend and set up shop in another beach community, East Hampton, N.Y.
Celle has grown the business organically over the years. With growth has come diversity and segmentation and stores such as Calypso Bijoux, Calypso Enfant, Calypso Kids and Calypso Vintage Voyage.
Now Celle is applying her breezy touch to home products. A 1,000-square-foot Calypso home store opened last month on Lafayette Street in SoHo. A home store with 3,000 square feet of space is bowing in June on Newtown Lane in East Hampton.
“My home products are based on the same concept as my apparel, things from around the world,” said Celle, who in 1989 created a home concept for French sportswear company Chevignon. “The look of the store is traveling to exotic places. There’s lots of bright color.”
Prices range from $70 for an African pillow to $2,000 for an Eastern European Suzani blanket.
More than any other time during her career, Celle’s designs seem to be in sync with the fashion moment. “Everybody is doing Calypso because it’s our look this year,” she said. “People say I was the first to start this. The secret is the price point. We have skirts for $145 and the quality is great. My success is that I never follow any trend. My clothes are colorful and a little ethnic, but not too much.”