There is a woman in Louisville who thinks Elizabeth M. Jenkins, owner of Boutique Serendipity in Westport Village, belongs in the Winner’s Circle for a race she ran against time.
The lady learned that her husband had tickets for a day at Churchill Downs. Needing a new outfit right away, she phoned Jenkins to see if she could help. Yes – although the store was closing, Jenkins would stay to accommodate her.
“By about 8 o’clock, she felt and looked great,” Jenkins said. “I insist that our customer service be second to none. When I do something, I do it 150 percent.”
Born in Manhattan, Jenkins once shied away from the typical women’s boutique.
“I played sports in college and then had three sons in three years, so I was a bit intimidated by that kind of store. I wondered whether I needed to dress up for them,” she said. “I wanted to create a place in which women are comfortable shopping – where they can socialize, get opinions and enjoy creating an outfit.”
Jenkins moved to Louisville in 1994 with a law degree, and now practices family law at Zaino Jenkins & Associates. After a friend in retail enticed her to visit a few trade fashion shows, she started thinking about opening her own store.
“I took a lot of math courses in college and started MBA courses at the University of Chicago before I chose law instead,” she said. “As a result, I’m comfortable with number-crunching. It’s fun to combine creativity with the numbers side of business.”
Jenkins opened Boutique Serendipity in Chenoweth Square in late 2005. Last March, she moved it to Westport Village at 1301 Herr Lane.
“There is great growth here. It’s a recreational area: People go from store to store, and maybe have a glass of wine in a restaurant before coming over to shop,” she said. “We have a lot of people coming through, and our sales volume has doubled.”
With fashions by designers such as Nicole Miller, Elene Cassis, Annie Griffin and Britt Ryan, the boutique attracts serious shoppers as well as browsers. It is the only Louisville store carrying clothes by Desigual, a Spanish label; but it’s equally proud to offer jewelry by local artists such as Sara Simpson and W & M Jewelry.
“We’re primarily dresses, sweaters and coats, but we’re also pants and going-out shirts and jeans, so people can come and dress for a picnic or a fancy dinner,” Jenkins said. “We aren’t just for people who wear a 2 or a 4. We have a much wider range, so you can look your best at the size you are – you don’t have to wait to come back when you lose a size.”
While most boutiques send one or two buyers on trips to find new clothes and accessories, Jenkins takes as many as four. In keeping with the fashion statements made at Britain’s royal wedding, buyer Susan Lowry has seen increased interest in fascinators for Derby parties.
“Fascinators are more mainstream now. They’ve come to Louisville,” Lowry said. “For dresses, color is always fabulous for Derby; but we’re seeing a lot of women go tonal – shades of purple from head to toe, for example, but counter-balanced with coral shoes or earrings for a real pop of color. A woman may come in needing a hat or a pair of shoes, or an entire outfit. We find what looks good on her, no matter what size or shape she is.”
For information, visit www.shopboutiqueserendipity.com or call 502.423.0058.
Category: Business Profile