Leeli and Lou, a Cincinnati-based boutique, will be opening its doors on High Street in the next week. Plans for the shop have been in the works since last spring, but the lease was finally signed Sept. 7.
Shop owners Elizabeth Lance and Julie Twyman tested the market of Miami women at Miami’s eleventh annual Fashion and Design Show and were greeted with the interest they were seeking.
After four years of attending Mom’s Weekends with her daughter and helping Lance run Leeli and Lou’s Hyde Park Square location in Cincinnati, Twyman saw the need to bring Leeli and Lou to Oxford.
She was most excited about bringing options for weekend “going out” clothing and accessories. Inner and outerwear, accessories and gifts will fill their 850-square-foot “style bar.”
It will be moving into the building owned by the Sigma Chi Foundation, right next to Apple Tree.
“We want to complement them. You know, just offer the girls something a little different,” said Lance.
Alan Kyger, the city’s Economic Development Director, was their first contact. He works with all prospective and current Oxford businesses and with what he called “quality of life” issues — whatever can be done to make Oxford a better place to live.
“We would love to see uniqueness in town. When you come to Oxford, we want to see that you don’t get an experience like anywhere else,” said Kyger.
Kyger and Jessica Greene, director of Enjoy Oxford, an initiative of the Oxford Visitors Bureau, share the vision that filling empty storefronts, ideally with mom-and-pop-style stores, will prevent “eyesores.”
It is great that there is development, but “coming soon” signs are not the same as the actual establishment, Kyger said. Leeli and Lou’s newest home in the Sigma Chi Foundation building sat empty for more than three years.
According to Kyger, Uptown is at over 95 percent occupancy, which includes 131 total businesses locations. Leeli and Lou is among the newest additions.
The manager of the Sigma Chi Foundation and Sigma Chi building, which Leeli and Lou rents out, grew up in Hyde Park Square, where the original Leeli and Lou location currently sits. Twyman said this helped them settle into Oxford so quickly.
Opening Leeli and Lou was not the first business venture for Lance, who will continue to manage the boutique’s Hyde Park location. She had previously owned a preschool for 16 years.
She filled her store with clothes from Los Angeles and jewelry and accessories from New York City, two destinations dear to her. Lance continues visiting once a month and buys often, not necessarily picking out what is most popular, but what she thinks fits the boutique best.
“We really kind of pride ourselves in being trendy,” said Twyman.
Leeli and Lou has used one of Lance’s daughters, Lindsay, who works for Valentino fashion company in New York City, as a resource, running ideas past her. Lindsay, Elle and Lily Lance, are the namesakes of the shop.
Leeli and Lou are tentatively planning to open this Thursday, Oct. 5, just in time for Family Weekend. The last major tasks, beside the physical setup, is getting all the inventory into the system.
“It’s so fun watching it come together, because it started off as nothing,” Lance said.