Deepali Roth had dreamed of opening her own store for years but had only five days to make Fashionologie, her Edina women’s boutique, a reality.
Fortunately, Roth had been preparing for the opportunity for much of her life. She got her start working in her father’s textile factories and selling fashions in their native India, and for the last decade has designed and manufactured wholesale clothing, jewelry and accessories for major department stores as head of Minneapolis-based Deep Designs.
Drawing on industry experience and connections and working day and night with her husband and employees, Roth succeeded in opening Fashionologie in early November. That was just a handful of days after the 3,000-square-foot space had become available in Edina’s 50th and France business district.
Fashionologie offers high-quality, “trendy but classy” clothing, accessories, handbags and shoes, Roth said. Popular brands include Miss Me and Rock Revival. The store also features purses, jewelry and accessories that Roth has designed. She plans to introduce her own clothing line this summer. Shoppers get individualized advice from Roth and her staff on picking what to wear to an event, updating their style or finding flattering looks. That service has helped create return customers and drive referrals that bring new shoppers to the store.
Prices at Fashionologie are more affordable than shoppers typically might associate with the upscale, retail-intensive intersection of 50th and France, Roth said.
“People think that 50th and France is very expensive, that everything is over $100 and that only older people come and buy,” Roth said. “I’m trying to change that here, bringing in some uniqueness to the store and good quality with an affordable price. I have young people who come and buy, moms who come in and buy, and women who are 60 who come and buy.”
Roth, 40, said her knowledge of fabrics, fashion and manufacturers enables her to find high-quality, well-designed merchandise at a good value. She travels to New York, Los Angeles and Asian markets to find items for the store.
Roth grew up in the textile industry, with a father whose factories produce a wide range of fabrics and employ thousands. In addition to working for him, she, then in her late teens, had a boutique in India where she sold clothing with handwork done by women in small villages.
Roth moved to this country to pursue an MBA at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management. She became a business partner with the owner of Deep Designs before buying him out. There, she developed relationships with manufacturers and buyers to produce and sell the clothing, jewelry and accessories she designs, which are separate from those she develops for Fashionologie.
Roth said she hopes to open additional locations but will wait at least two years before doing so. She is having the store’s website updated to offer online sales in the near future. After strong sales since the start of the year, Roth is expecting to top $100,000 in sales this year. Revenue last year at Deep Designs, which has 40 employees, was more than $500,000.
Fashionologie has been a hit with repeat shoppers such as Carol Buckingham.
“I love the store and shop there a lot,” said Buckingham, who lives in Plymouth. “I would call it a boutique-like feel without the boutique-like prices. She has good price points on clothing and jewelry and it’s really unique things.’’
Customer Sharon Torodor of St. Louis Park said Roth and her staff have helped her modernize her wardrobe.
“The prices are medium-priced but everything is very stylish. It’s fun to shop there,’’ Torodor said. “It brings something fresh to that intersection.”
The expert says: Dave Brennan, marketing professor and co-director of the Institute for Retailing Excellence at the University of St. Thomas’ Opus College of Business, said Fashionologie’s pricing and positioning help the store appeal to a broader range of customers that few chains are serving. That likely will help it succeed at 50th and France and eventually expand to other metro locations.
“It’s based more on value than paying extra for high quality and somewhat fashion-forward types of merchandise,” Brennan said. “I think it could well hit a sweet point for Twin Cities shoppers.”
Roth’s wide industry knowledge and design experience also are strengths, as is her timing in opening a store in a rebounding economy, Brennan said. He also likes the Fashionologie name: “It has a connotation that it’s smart fashion rather than something for a fashionista that’s going to be temporary.”
Todd Nelson is a freelance writer in Woodbury. His e-mail address is email@example.com.