The luxury Italian brand Luisa Spagnoli has been delighting fashion conscious women all over the world for almost 90 years. Even the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, has been spotted wearing a refined and professional Luisa Spagnoli suit. While Luisa Spagnoli has boutiques all over the world, it wasn’t until this past May that the Italian company opened up a store in the United States.
On May 5, 2016 Spagnoli president, and great-granddaughter of the company namesake and founder, cut the ribbon on the new Luisa Spagnoli boutique at the Stanford Shopping Center in Palo Alto. It is fitting that a groundbreaking company like Spagnoli would pioneer its U.S. presence with a store in the Bay Area. But, it took two skilled and passionate entrepreneurs to get the fashion house to come here.
Combining Business Sense With a Passion for Fashion
Irene Oykhman and Julia Schloss have quietly been a part of the Bay Area business community for some time. This mother-daughter team founded the Bayview Residential Management mortgage brokerage in Campbell several years ago. That company now has 160 agents.
Oykhman discovered a Luisa Spagnoli boutique in Venice on a trip and brought back a dress for her daughter. Schloss and Oykhman soon were only wearing Spagnoli to work and to conferences. People loved their outfits and the two became enthusiastic Spagnoli evangelists. Many of their colleagues even made finding a Spagnoli boutique one of the priorities on their European vacations.
Soon, the mother and daughter noticed that high quality mid-priced lines were disappearing from department stores. Between all the enthusiasm they had witnessed for Spagnoli clothing and the vacuum created in the market by designers like Dana Buchman entering into exclusive deals with retailers like Kohl’s, Oykhman and Schloss sensed a great business opportunity.
After several years of work, they formed a joint venture with the Luisa Spagnoli Company. The company put up half the money for the boutique and Oykhman and Schloss put up the rest.
History of Sharp Businesswomen
When she came to open the company’s latest boutique, Nicoletta Spagnoli said that the company’s customers are professional women who “must look perfect every single moment of her day.” She noted that the brand is all about “femininity, glamour, and practicality.” Nicoletta Spagnoli is the latest in a long line of sharp and enterprising businesswomen at the fashion house.
Luisa Spagnoli was a pioneering businesswoman who worked hard to run several different businesses throughout her life. She got her start when she was left to run a still new factory by herself in World War I. Eventually, she would start a brand of chocolate, a company for breeding angora rabbits, and the now famous clothing retailer.
It is fitting that a company whose workforce is 90% female was finally brought to the U.S. by a pair of Bay Area entrepreneurs with killer business instincts and sharp eyes for fashion.
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