LOS ANGELES — Hip-hop executives and musicians who have shopped The Red Lemon, an online store for urban and contemporary apparel, can now stop into the company’s first freestanding boutique, which recently bowed on Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood.
Owner Phnewfula (pronounced “new-fa-la”) forged ties to the hip-hop community during a decade-long stint working in the music industry, most notably in the promotions department of Interscope Records. “My passions are music and fashion, and I wanted something that could incorporate both,” she said.
In the store, musician-helmed brands such as Hustle (Kanye West) and House of Deréon (Beyoncé Knowles) share concrete floor space with jeans by Hudson Jeans, Frankie B. and Evisu and graphic T-shirts from Made U Look and Toki Doki, among others.
“I’ll carry celebrity lines, but they’ve gotta be hot,” said Phnewfula, citing Pharrell Williams’ Billionaire Boys Club line and Gwen Stefani’s L.A.M.B. as two of her favorites.
Phnewfula is also choosy about her picks within each brand. “In House of Deréon, I carry maybe seven pieces from the whole collection. The rest are Macy’s and junior [-oriented].” A Puma sneaker designed by rapper Ludacris will be in stock soon, and the store will host a party for the rapper when his album is released later this year.
Phnewfula’s famous friends regularly inspire the collections she carries — both online and in the new store. “I get clothing tips from [rapper Talib] Kweli all the time — and I saw [rapper] Common with a Modern Amusement jacket on and put in an order with the company the next day,” she said.
While the 1,300-square-foot store is heavy on jeans, Ts and hoodies, there are also Eighties-inspired cotton dresses by Voom, reissued Members Only jackets, delicate tops by brands such as Custo Barcelona and an extensive collection of little-known beauty products and candles, many imported from Japan — such as toothpaste by Breath Palette that comes in flavors such as Rose, Blueberry and Curry.
Though Phnewfula admitted the store’s location is “a little bit foot-traffic-challenged,” she expects to glean $100,000 in sales this year, and $1 million in 2007. “I make $20,000 to $30,000 a month in sales online, and I want to double that in the store,” she said.