Charyli boutique is located at 400 Park Ave. South, Ste. 120, in Winter Park. For more information about the boutique, and its grand opening on Thursday, Jan. 26, visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/Charyli
After raising four children and sending two of them off to college, Winter Park resident Lisa West decided late last year it was time to give life to her newest brainchild: Charyli.
Charyli, the newest clothing boutique to open on Park Avenue is the culmination of her two decades of motherhood, 30 years in fashion merchandising and a lifelong dream of opening her own store, West said.
“This is something I’ve always wanted to do, but I just didn’t think it was possible, but one thing lead to another, and look!” West said, motioning around her Park Avenue store, “Here we are.”
Named with the first letters of each of her children’s names, Chad, Hannah, Ryan and Lindsay, Charyli (pronounced “Charlie”), opened in mid-November in the space between Starbucks and the Gap on South Park Avenue — previously held by the Vino! wine bar.
The store, focusing on unique and affordable women’s fashion, will hold its official grand opening on Thursday, Jan. 26.
Fashion in the family
West, a graduate of the Florida State University fashion-merchandising program, worked in retail, both as a fashion buyer and sales associate her entire adult life — until motherhood took over. With two of her children now off at FSU themselves, she decided it was time for her to get back to work.
“I went back into the retail world, looking for a part-time job,” she said. “But with the economy the way it is, even with my experience it took me over a year to find anything.”
After dipping her toes back into the fashion world by eventually landing two part-time jobs, her family urged her to jump in headfirst.
“My sister asked me last New Year’s what my resolution was, and I told her I didn’t have one,” West said. “She said that this was going to be the year I would finally open my own store, and I think I laughed her off. I had four kids and two jobs, it didn’t seem possible.”
Yet 10 months later she was signing a lease, and a month later opening her very own store in the heart of Winter Park — “I wouldn’t have done it anywhere else,” she said.
To buy merchandise for the store, West flew with her two daughters to Los Angeles — Lindsay a student at FSU, and Hannah a sophomore at Winter Park High School.
“All of Hannah’s friends say the store looks like Hannah’s dream closet, and all of Lindsay’s friends say the same thing about her, and my friends the same about me,” West said.
When asked to describe the store, West’s friend and volunteer at the shop, Liz Lovaglio, said, “It’s Lisa’s — everything in here is just Lisa.”
Filling a void
From name brand clothing brands and designers, like BCBG Generation and Free People, to jewelry pieces from around the world, West said Charyli offers something for everyone, but also something different than what they’d find at any other Park Avenue store.
“Different and affordable were the two things I really wanted to accomplish in this store,” West said. “We’re trying to bring in different things that other people don’t have on the Avenue.”
She cross checks with her merchandisers to make sure no one on the street carries the same products she’s ordering, to both ensure she’s not stepping on anyone’s toes and that her store can serve as a destination to find those pieces.
“If anyone else on the Avenue already has it, even if it’s great,” she said, “I don’t want it.”
What she does want, she said, is to fill a void she feels exists on Park Avenue in affordable clothing. Nothing in her store, despite its intimate, designer boutique feel, she says, costs more than $200.
By offering private shopping parties, wine and cheese nights, and reaching out to the Rollins College community, West is doing her best to make Charyli a shopping destination on Park Avenue.
“I just want to keep everybody happy and loving to shop here, and provide a fun, unique atmosphere to keep customers wanting to come back,” she said.