With enough money and a growing business, the timing was right for eco-friendly brand and retailer Whimsy + Row to open its first standalone store.
The company inked a deal for a 3,500-square-foot space on Venice Boulevard in Los Angeles, with about half allocated to a store and the rest serving as an office and warehouse.
“My whole idea for this storefront is to really bring our community in and I want it to be a place to talk about sustainability and make it an easier thing to accomplish,” founder Rachel Temko said. “I have gotten a lot of feedback from people who say, ‘I want to be sustainable but it’s really hard.’ It’s not as affordable either, so we’re really trying to keep everything under $200.”
The company, which employs a team of about seven part-time staff in addition to Temko, previously set up shop for nearly three years out of a shared retail space called Mar Vista Art Dept.
“I started there as a holiday pop-up and it was a great outlet for us to connect with customers and for people to try on the brand,” Temko said. “It’s about four blocks up the street, which is why this [new] space worked perfectly for us. Our customers are already in the area.”
Temko initially began Whimsy + Row as a mobile boutique, holding pop-ups and other events. Around 2016 she began making her own clothing under the Whimsy + Row label to fill various gaps in the sustainable space, with the line now in nearly 35 stores, mostly on the West Coast. The company pulled in a silent angel investor when it branched into its own apparel but has otherwise been self-funded to date.
The recently opened store is a reflection of how the business has developed over time with a mix of both the Whimsy + Row line plus about 40 percent of the assortment comprised of third-party brands such as Nisolo, WKNDLA, Baggu, Norden and Rootfoot.
“My initial plan is to do three stores in five years,” Temko said. “We have a large market up in San Francisco so that’s our next store I’m hoping to open in the next two years and then in five years, New York. And we plan to do the same thing — carry our line and then find local, like-minded brands to balance the stores.”