Molly Brown's makes a splash in Laguna

Molly Brown's, the beloved Newport Beach-based swim shop that has garnered quite the celebrity stylist following, has laid down some roots in Laguna.

Donna Allen, who owns Molly Brown's along with her husband Greg, last month opened the boutique at 490 S. Coast Hwy.

"I live here in Laguna Beach," Donna said. "I've been trying for several years to move into town. When the space became available, I thought it would be a great opportunity. I've gotten great feedback on this store from people from southern Orange County who [now] don't have to drive to [the Newport Beach store]."

The shop carries several California brands, as well as international and designer labels. It also has a small men's section. Women's swimsuits run around a $150 and up.

"We like to support locals," Donna said about carrying swimwear labels based in California. "It's easy to get the product because a lot of it is made here and we don't have to wait on shipments."

It's the third Molly Brown's the Allens have opened since taking over the original Newport Beach store about eight years ago. The second shop, inside the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Las Vegas, has been open about a year.

Altogether, there are roughly 20 employees, she said. Website operations are run out of the Newport Beach office.

Running a swimwear shop can be tough, but Donna said the website offsets the seasonal element.

"It's a tough business and a tough market to get into," Greg added. "It's tough because you have to house inventory, and that's expensive...if you don't sell what you have, you'll get stuck with it."

Many swimwear shop owners go out of business, he noted.

"During the downturn, swimwear stores went to [selling] mainstream lines and ready-to-wear lines," he said. "We stuck to our core and that's how we survived."

Molly Brown's carries sexier cut swimwear — a good number of them bikinis — and tries to stand out from others in the industry by selling hard to find brands and styles.

"We search out unusual, unique pieces — not something that you just find at the department store," Donna said. "So that if a girl goes to a pool party, she won't have the same thing everyone else has."

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