Designer duds displayed along with jeweled clutches, candelabras and vintage furniture (all for sale) in an ambiance of style and panache would be draw enough, if that were all had to offer.
But the beauty of the shop on Avenue I in Riviera Village is that it offers so much more—everything from a shampoo and blowout to full makeup application and false eyelashes, and even private "Girls Night Out" and "Tweener" parties.
The ReVamp Happy Hour—every Friday from 3 p.m. until 6 p.m.—allows the curious to peruse fringed handbags and slinky gowns, size up a vintage sofa, or make an appointment for a blow dry, all while sipping wine and nibbling appetizers.
The novel Redondo Beach boutique and mini salon is the brainchild of three women: Jill Livingston-Smith and Flo Richardson, both of Palos Verdes Estates, and Laura Young of Torrance.
All are in their 40s, lively, dark-haired and—as two of the entrepreneurs sang merrily from the counter—“All single ladies, all single ladies …”
Richardson came out of the business world, working in sales for a Fortune 200 company, she said. “I was laid off last year and decided to do a major career switcheroo and (become) an entrepreneur.”
Livingston-Smith and Young have extensive retail experience. Young, an interior designer who studied fashion merchandising and retail management at Southern Illinois University, owned the self-same shop formerly known as Studio House, before joining forces with her two partners when they launched ReVamp six months ago.
“I used to do wardrobe for the studios,” said Young, who could easily pass for an actress or model. “I mostly worked on music videos and commercials.”
Livingston-Smith, a long-and-lanky former flight attendant, had a retail business in the South Bay called Madison Alley, a home furnishing store she owned with a friend. Four babies (two pairs of twins, 11 and 13) called a halt to retail—until now.
All three act as buyers for ReVamp. “People look at us as a little edgy and upscale, but at affordable prices,” Richardson said, adding that the voluminous purses, sinuous dresses, gowns and cover-ups appeal to 20-somethings as well as women in their 40s and 50s.
The partners peruse the Los Angeles fashion district, selecting clothes appropriate for the area, whether a swanky cocktail party or a picnic on the shore. “We usually never buy anything more than once,” Richardson said. “We try to always keep it fresh.”
The boutique also features two designer lines. One, Brooke Rodd, a young Venice Beach designer “is a great fit for us,” Richardson said, pulling some of Rodd’s colorful “beachy cover-ups” and strapless dresses from the racks.
Livingston-Smith showed off another line, Ivanah, a New Orleans designer who “repurposes” different fabrics into her dresses. She might use a half dozen patterns in one dress, a sort of quilting effect, only with lace, silk, denim, etc.
“Ivanah does these really unique, one of a kind designs, very cool and very fun,” said Richardson, who, with her boisterous laugh and ready wit, seems very cool and very fun herself.
Young is responsible for what she calls the “eclectic chic” décor of the shop, with its hot-pink façade and welcoming two-level interior that includes a small salon in back replete with chandeliers, make-up tables, shampoo bowl and white leather settee.
“We are not a full-service salon,” cautioned Richardson, who hires the stylists and manages that end of the business. “It’s considered a beauty bar (which is) different than a hair salon because we don’t cut or color … we just do the finishing work.”
Along with shampoos, conditioning, blow dries and styling, the beauty bar offers full makeup, including false eyelashes if desired. Blow dries run $35, conditioning treatments $10 and makeup $35.
“A couple of big companies are just doing blow dries now,” Richardson said. “They have found that that’s all many women want.”
Makeup and hair styling are popular with older teens preparing for dances and proms, as well as “tweeners”—girls between 12 and 16 who are more interested in “getting pampered” than in Disney and dolls, said Richardson, who has an 11-year-old daughter at home.
For tweener birthday parties, she said, “Girls come in for two hours and we provide sparkling lemonade and pink cupcakes and music, (plus) a couple of stylists (who do) feathers, the kind of fun things girls that age like.”
Private parties in the Glam Lounge run $75 for two hours (up to six girls), $125 for three hours (up to 10 girls). Girls Night Out events feature champagne and appetizers. Shampoos and styling cost extra in both cases.
Livingston-Smith’s daughters (three out of the four are girls) love the pampering aspects of ReVamp, she said. As for the business, the busy mother, who also sells real estate, likes having two partners to share in the workload.
“It’s nice we could all do something on a part-time basis,” Livingston-Smith said.
“We can manage the business between the three of us and it’s not all-consuming,” Richardson added.
Part of the work comes in selecting furniture and home decor.
Although the partners plan to offer more furniture soon, the pieces they do have are as unique as their clothes and accessories: a gold framed sofa covered in faux leopard, two vintage wingchairs, a marble coffee table.
Many customers are surprised to find the salon in the rear of the shop, yet the boutique and glam lounge feed each other, Richardson said. “If you come in for a blow dry, you may buy something on the way out.”
And vice versa.
"The location is somewhat of a problem, since Avenue I doesn’t get as much foot traffic as Catalina Avenue," Richardson said. “We really have to build the business word of mouth.”
All three are glad to have made it this far.
ReVamp had been open just one week last October when the store was burglarized in the middle of the night. Since the alarm system had yet to be installed, the women arrived the next morning, horrified to see boxes of new merchandise gone along with clothes and jewelry that had been painstakingly displayed around the boutique only days before.
“We were pretty much wiped out,” Richardson said. “We had to go out and buy all new inventory.”
Neither the merchandise nor the thieves were ever found.
The partners, who seem to have as much fun trying on clothes as they do selling them, are still the new kids on the block, always trying to think of new ways to introduce people to their novel idea.
Friday’s happy hour, for example, is meant to take advantage of people going to and from the Riviera Village Farmer’s Market, Richardson said. Facebook offers another avenue; customers who "Like" the ReVamp Facebook page can print a coupon offering a 10 percent discount.
A similar discount is available to anyone who mentions this Patch story when purchasing boutique items or beauty bar services.
“The thing about a new business, you’re always evolving,” Richardson said. “We’re trying to find the right fit.”
ReVamp is located at 209 Avenue I in South Redondo Beach.