Barbara Bowman’s business continues to evolve, with the boutique retailer having just expanded into jewelry and e-commerce.
“It’s statement jewelry and it’s not an afterthought,” Bowman said. “I love really beautiful, unusual pieces. We’re in a position to collect unusual things and what I like about the jewelry that I’m producing is I couldn’t find anything like it in the market.”
The Ojai-based retailer’s collection of statement pieces is called Barbara Bowman Jewelry. Bowman makes the pieces by hand, utilizing items she’s sourced from her travels to places such as India, Tibet and Thailand infused with materials such as pearls, semiprecious stones and sterling beads. The line, which ranges from chokers to longer strand styles, retails from $185 to $1,400 and is sold in her Ojai store as well as online.
“Part of doing the jewelry is part of the vibrancy of life,” Bowman said. “I do a lot of things in my life and this is one of them. I think that women are expanding as human beings and I do believe there are renaissance women. We cannot be single dimensional today. You don’t have to be.”
Bowman also has her own clothing line, which she sells in her boutique along with other collections she buys to create versatile looks for customers who visit her from places such as Beverly Hills, the San Fernando Valley and Santa Barbara.
Bowman designed shoes in Italy prior to launching her retail business. In the past, she operated as many as three stores, but about seven years ago, she made the decision to consolidate to react to the changing marketplace. She said her store in Ojai, a small town north of Los Angeles, benefits from the community’s unique retail offering, which consists of independent operators rather than chains.
“Every single retailer in this town, with the exception of maybe two or three, is unique. When you take an area that is unique and make it corporate, it loses its cache,” Bowman said. “Ojai’s been just the opposite and I think it creates a big draw. For the future of retail, if you don’t have that — well, I think it’s proving itself out. The department stores are having a terrible time and I must say even in my clothing end of the business, I work very hard to curate.”
The launch of Bowman’s jewelry collection came with the rollout of her online retail store, which she said she’ll continue to build out. Her plan later this year is to add content to the site with profiles of clients who collect pieces from her line.
“A lot of people come to Ojai for a full experience. You walk through this town and it’s a big draw,” Bowman said. “Retail is changing so radically. You have to be unique and give a person a reason to come into the store.”
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