How to start a boutique shop in a crowded New York City neighborhood
“I’d been in New York for four years when I moved here,” she says.
“My whole life has been New York, and I just couldn’t believe I was here.”
As a kid, she loved playing with dolls, making dollies and dolls clothes, and making stuffed animals.
“I was like, oh my gosh, I’ve been so far,” she recalls.
“And then I thought, I have to make something for myself, for myself and my family.”
After years of tinkering with toys, including making an “I Love Lucy” plush doll, she set out to build her own.
She started at a thrift store in Harlem called Toys for the Soul, and made her own plush doll for the store.
At age 12, she opened a shop in the Lower East Side called Little Shop of Fun, and quickly began selling dolls, dolls clothes and other accessories.
In 2001, she married her husband, and together they founded her first boutique, which she called Lulu.
It would eventually become one of the most successful boutique shops in the city, but the family’s fortunes took a turn in 2005, when their eldest son, a medical student, was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder called microcephaly.
After undergoing three rounds of experimental therapy, the condition was deemed terminal and the family relocated to the Bronx, where she became the first in her family to be born with the condition.
That was a pivotal moment in her life.
As she says, “This is my life.
My children’s life.
And this is their future.”
By 2006, Lulu was a $150 million dollar company, with 150 employees and thousands of products, but its growth slowed.
For many years, Lumi’s main business was selling handmade dolls and toys for $2 a pop, but that didn’t cut it.
By 2007, she was working in the office of a well-known jewelry store, and selling dolls and accessories for $8 a pop.
With her husband struggling to pay the bills, the family decided to sell the business to a private equity firm for $100 million, and that meant they had to start over.
Lulu had always planned to build a boutique store that would cater to young women, but it was a daunting prospect for a young woman.
While she’d always dreamed of doing a boutique, it was clear to Lumi that she had to do something different.
Since her daughter is so young, she knew she needed to do things differently, and started working on the idea of Lulu as a boutique that would specialize in making the most unique pieces possible.
Within two years, the Lumi family had created Lulu’s first collection of handmade jewelry, clothing, accessories and dolls.
The first two stores were closed, and after several more closures, Luli and her husband decided to build their own boutique.
Now, Lula says, it’s the largest boutique in the world, and she’s looking forward to growing the business into a worldwide company.
“My goal is to have a brand that represents the best of New York.
I’m very proud of what we’ve achieved and we’re going to continue to grow.”