By Annie Vazquez
After falling victim to the fragile economy, Lauren Martinez was forced last February to close down the 8-year-old high-end boutique, Aura, that she and her mother had built back when Miracle Mile was dominated by bridal shops. She took a sales job working at Intermix in Bal Harbour and after three months, her luck turned around.
Now, Martinez is back in the retail biz with Swag, her North Miami boutique that sells trendy women’s clothing for under $100. Her business partner is her best friend, Monica Minagorri, whom she met her freshman year in a math class at St. Brendan High School.
A bright green carpet adds color to the wooden floors. Crystal chandeliers, a giant canvas displaying the Eiffel tower, and glowing candles give the space a peaceful yet stylish vibe. "I wanted to keep the look of Aura," says Martinez, referring to both the store’s décor and its clothing, which consists of expensive-looking dresses, tops and bottoms that look culled from the pages of Vogue.
Labels from L.A. and New York make up most of the inventory. Aryn K, Bizz, Freelance, Lucca and Collective Concepts, a label that produces trendy daytime pieces, are their best sellers. "Our whole concept is that we want women to come and find something that’s affordable, but looks like it costs $600," says Minagorri. "During these times, I think it works to our advantage because women still need to shop."
Minagorri says they want the boutique to serve as the ideal shopping destination, where their friends and other women can hang out. "I’m thinking of bringing the Wii or Guitar Hero here," she says. "I think it would be fun." Martinez’s unconvinced face soon has them exploding into laughter.
Swag, 1962 NE 123rd St., North Miami; 305-981-8481
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