I Love Luci
Growing up in the retail fashion industry, boutique owner Clai Green watched as his grandparents ran clothing stores in Brooklyn, N.Y., from the 1950s through the late '70s. In 1986 Clay decided to pursue his own career in retail, opening his first store in St. Louis, then Chicago and now Milwaukee. Currently he co-owns two locations of a boutique called Luci (532 N. Water St., 4405 N. Oakland Ave.) with his partner Jeff Paape. Green says they take pride in treating customers like family and providing them with impeccable service.
How would you describe the style of the clothing at Luci's and what age group does it appeal to?
We definitely are on the edge of every trend. The trends come into our store a lot of times before they are even in the magazines. We carry a mix of everything, catering to females of any age. If you're 13 to 60, there's something for you in our store. We have classic, trendy, casual, dressy and sexy. We have a variety of everything, so it's kind of like a one-stop shop. No matter how you dress, you can usually find something in our store.
Where does the inventory come from?
California, New York and Europe.
Is it affordable?
I do all my buying from factories and factories' private label for a lot of the designer companies like Betsy Johnson and corporations like BCBG, Rebecca Taylor and Rebecca Beeson. A lot of times those people don't necessarily design their product; they go to the factories, and factories have their own designers that they contract out and they mass-produce the pieces. A lot of times that's where I do all my buying, so I get my product in the store for a lot less wholesale and I can pass it on to the consumer inexpensively. The only thing you're not getting is the designer label, but who sees the label on the product? I then can sell the clothing from $28 to $88, and every week we have a sale.
What is this special martini night?
Martini night is an RSVP; you have to be invited. It is on the last Thursday of every month and people can be invited by simply calling and letting us know they want to be on our guest list. We pamper our clientele; we offer massages, makeovers, hair makeovers. We have sushi, cosmopolitans, non-alcoholic drinks and then soda or water.
Do you think clothing is a way for people to express their personalities?
I definitely think so-that is the whole basis of our corporation: to make a female feel comfortable. We build self-esteem in women through hair, makeup and clothing. We want to make somebody feel fantastic, and it doesn't matter what you look like or what size you are. If you're short, tall, have shoulders or no shoulders, have hips or no hips, we can fit you in our store and make you look fantastic. We carry sizes all the way from 0 to 15.
What trends and colors do you think will be big for the upcoming seasons?
The floral trends are huge right now; they are going to go through spring and summer. Also, I think that tights with a tunic dress are a trend that will never die down; it will be around for a while. As far as color, all the bright neons of orange and yellow; also deep and bright purples.
Who is your favorite fashion designer and why?
Dolce & Gabbana, because they are always on the edge and coming out with fantastic fabrics, great cuts, fits and they are just trendy.