Q & A With Lisa
Lisa Lambka is like the Kanye West of vintage boutiques in quaint and sunny St. Augustine, and Lisa Lambka's ReCHIC Unique Boutique: a collector and seller of unique vintage one-of-a-kind items. Think retro hot pink polka-dot purses from the '80s, vintage natural beaver hats from the '60s, and classic Chanel from the '90s. But don't get me wrong and assume that her collection extends back only to the '60s - she has rare finds stretching back to the '20s. ReCHIC has already amassed a massive inventory of thousands of priceless vintage finds like these after only one year in business.
Coming out of a background in high technology, manufacturing, and construction, this hardly sounds like the right project. But like any successful person, Lisa has been able to reinvent herself through executing on hobbies. Fashion has excited her since she was only 3 years old and she has acted as stylist for herself and her friends for over fifty years. Her extended involvement with fashion puts her in a perfect position to run this shop - she's seen all the trends since the early '60s. And she knows fashion is timeless.
Lisa and her boutique have been featured on local television and local news. And now it's our turn at Sacco to carry on the tradition. Lisa Lambka talks unisex, vintage, and inspiration for starting her boutique in this exclusive interview with Sacco:
Sacco: What inspired you to open a fashion boutique? What’s the story behind the name?
Lisa: I have a very unique background. My career has been high technology, manufacturing and construction. My true love has always been fashion. I have always loved fashion from the time I was 3 years old. I was picking out my own clothes and putting together outfits since I was 5 years old. Since I am getting older my corporate career is over. So I had to reinvent myself. I figured why not do something I always loved, so at age 56 I decided to take the plunge and open a boutique. I just made my first year mark and love it. I get to play dress up every day with my clients. I do mostly antique and vintage pieces because I love the way women used to dress. I have over 600 hats in my hat collection as far back as the 1920’s. I have jewelry as far back as the turn of the century. I can’t compete with the big box store so I have to be different. That is also where the name comes from. ReCHIC Unique Boutique where we can take old CHIC and mix it with new or repurpose items. I take salt shakers and make them into jewelry. Have something that broke or want to re-do an outfit? No problem: you have come to the right place. Return to timeless style. I believe nothing ever goes out of style and you should dress the way that makes you the most comfortable. Go outside your comfort zone and have fun.
Sacco: Curating a selection of vintage clothing and other finds for retail is complicated and challenging. What process do you use to find new products for your boutique, bring those products in, and present them to people?
Lisa: I have lived all over the country and sold all over the world in my last life. I have been collecting items for the last 36 years. I also acquire items from auctions, estate sales and people who just want to sell their items. I also deal with a couple of jewelry dealers as well so I always have a great selection of sterling silver jewelry. I also design a lot of my own and I have a jeweler make it for me. With my eye for design and his craftsmanship we make some very unique pieces. I guess I just have an eye for finding unique vintage pieces. It is so much fun finding something and selling it. Making someone else happy is even better.
Sacco: Do you aim for a particular aesthetic through your curation?
Lisa: I love to find and acquire beautiful things. I am in an unusual location so I have to have a wider selection than most stores that deal in vintage and antiques. I am probably a little more eclectic, but that is what makes my store so unique.
Sacco: How did you decide on that strategy?
Lisa: Well I took a chance. I didn’t have much to spend so I had to keep my overhead low and since I have been downsizing, everything in my store I own. I take all major credit cards, offer a 90 day layaway and donate to a lot of local area charities. I want everyone to buy what they love. If you don’t love it don’t buy it. That is my theory because if my clients love it they will wear it and they are my best advertising.
Sacco: Do you feel there are any unique challenges for a boutique operating out of West Palm Beach that stores in other locations - like New York or LA - might not face?
Lisa: Yes, every location is different especially when you are comparing my location to two of the largest areas in the country. People here for one thing don’t dress up like they do in the larger cities. Economics is also a factor. My area is no way as sophisticated as New York and LA. I have been told that I would do better in those areas but, West Palm Beach is now my home so I have to make the best of it. It is a challenge I am up for. I have also started an Etsy site so now I can sell vintage items all over the country.
Sacco: Men’s fashion has been on the rise the for past ten-plus years. Do you stock products for men or do you plan to in the future?
Lisa: Yes, I do. I have some men’s clothes, jewelry, cuff links, ties, suspenders and hats. I will probably expand that part of my business in the near future.
Sacco: The fashion industry is gradually converging on unisex fashion lines. How do you think vintage boutiques can adapt to stay current given these big changes?
Lisa: Well I still think people who appreciate beautiful things will appreciate shopping here. I give personal attention to all my client needs so I make them feel as comfortable as possible and help them pick out something that they will feel comfortable wearing. We are all individuals and are unique in our own way. At ReCHIC Unique Boutique we embrace everyone’s uniqueness.
Sacco: What is your favorite part of running a boutique?
Lisa: Putting a smile on a client’s face.
Looking for that one-of-a-kind piece of jewelry to accent any outfit?
ReCHIC Unique Boutique
probably has it!
We love hats and have an immense collection for sale. This one (left) is a gorgeous 1970's Vintage Straw Hat desiged by Bella Fioni of Italy