“When I develop a store, I close my eyes and I literally picture myself walking into the space and I design it as I’m walking around it,” said Abby Roen-Flores, owner and founder of two Kansas City boutiques. Every spring a high school class visits her shops, JCCC fashion students regularly visit for classes, and some even work in her shops.
These boutiques are; LADYCO in Brookside and Kate in the River Market. When customers walk into these shops, they are greeted with clothing sizes ranging from XS-3X, neatly hung on the racks. Accessories are meticulously displayed on tables and shelves throughout the store.
When walking in customers are greeted by friendly staff happy to chat with them about their day or let customers peacefully browse. This is the service people get when they shop small.
Flores has been a small business owner for 13 years. Starting with a baby boutique in 2010, and later opening three women’s boutiques called COCO, LadyBye, and Kate.
COCO was casual, cool, and trendy with an effortless west coast style. LadyBye was elegant, modern, and classic. Kate is the younger sister who stole from both sisters’ closets and had a style all her own.
These businesses did not come without challenges. Three weeks after the doors to COCO opened, a fire destroyed both COCO and the baby store.
“Losing the businesses in the fire was personally the hardest thing I think I’ve ever done”, Flores shares.
She, however, fought through six weeks after the fire, COCO reopened in a new location. Six months later she opened LadyBye right around the corner, and a year later she opened Kate.
When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, she was forced to pivot. LadyBye and COCO lost foot traffic when retail neighbors started closing their doors. It was time for a new iteration, LadyBye and COCO were growing up after three rough years.
They merged into LADYCO, a larger store that carries the best of COCO and LadyBye, along with a new set of styles. The store continues to carry XS-3X, high-quality pieces at an approachable price, and brands that stand for something.
Flores shares that to carry a brand in her shops she has to believe in what they are doing from sourcing to quality to inclusivity, it is all important.
These values and experiences are things she shares with her employees and students. Flores has welcomed students with open arms.
She is always happy to share her knowledge saying,
“There is nothing better than working with someone who loves what you also love, and hopefully getting to help in any way I can is really important to me”.
Flores takes time to work with students and offers this piece of advice,
“Don’t ever give up on your dream, no one will ever believe in your dreams like you believe in your dream.”
Daniela Saenz-Quintana, student reporter