Today we’d like to introduce you to Lisa Kline.
Lisa, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Growing up, even as a very young child, I knew I wanted to own a clothing store. Fast forward to 1995 when I opened one of the first contemporary women’s clothing stores in Los Angeles and in doing so, established Robertson Boulevard as a shopping destination. It eventually earned me the title “Queen of Robertson” by Vogue magazine and the street became a place to see and be seen. I worked really hard to bring my vision and business to life and became a trusted style source to many actors, recording artists and celebrities. In a time when my competitors were calling the paparazzi on their own famous clientele, I implemented the first ever paparazzi curtain to provide all my customers privacy while they shopped. It was always about them, they always came first.
I went on to open two Lisa Kline Men stores, two Lisa Kline Kid stores, an additional women’s store and my online store, Lisakline.com.
During my career I have been featured as an iconic retailer in magazines including Elle, In Style, Vogue, and Lucky, and on TV Networks including KTLA, E News Live, GMA, TV Guide, Hell’s Kitchen, Bravo and had a loungewear line on HSN.
Over the past several years I’ve worked as a retail consultant, using my experience to curate for clients like Shutters on the Beach, Westlake Village Inn, The Today Show, Bed Bath and Beyond and Shop LC.
Most recently though, I launched my e-commerce marketplace www.shoplisakline.com. I’m thrilled to be back in the game with a platform to introduce and promote cool brands. This time around I’m selling everything from beauty, home, gift, apothecary, apparel, men’s, women’s, kids and more. It’s super exciting!
Has it been a smooth road?
HA! Absolutely not. It was smooth-going though for many years, until the writer’s strike in November of 2007. That’s really when the bumpy road started because it was followed shortly after by the financial crash in 2008 and then things got really bad when my husband died in a freak accident in January of 2009. Overnight I became a widow with two kids under five years old in the middle of a recession with 6 clothing stores and 100 employees. My children became my top priority and I ended up having to close all my shops. It was heartbreaking, extremely difficult and took years to unravel.
Alright – so let’s talk business. What else should we know about you and your career so far?
I’m honored to be revered in the fashion industry as an innovative retailer, merchandiser and designer. What sets me apart is I have been in this industry now for 25 years and have an established, trusted brand that people can count on.
As a curator I do everything from sourcing, branding, merchandising, design, business strategy, marketing and more. I also do a ton of brand placement so I still get to work with brands all day everyday. My love and passion is, and always has been, discovering creative talent and collaborating with them to promote their brands. That connection is pure magic. It’s what I am most proud of; building brands from infancy and giving them a platform to shine. It’s why I am so happy about re-launching my website!
How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
Like most businesses the fashion industry is ever-changing. I have been keeping an eye on it, trying to figure out what it wants to be since I closed my last store in 2012. I haven’t missed a single trade show, I was never out of the game. So when the pandemic hit, it became very clear what I needed to do. The white space was wide open so I jumped back in without a second thought to help guide and direct the change this industry needs. It is interesting because the same model I used 25 years ago is holding true today in the way I marketed brands then and what I am organically doing now. I am a drop ship model which gives me the ability to merchandise and feature as much of a brand as I want to give it the presence I think it needs to sell and be promoted online. Back in the store days, I had several huge brands on consignment allowing me to give them 12 feet of real estate on prime Robertson Blvd and feature a brand’s entire collection like they had their own in store. That model was always successful. It is very important to work together, to collaborate and be partners in a sense so we can grow together. We need one another to make it work, there has to be a trust factor. What I am doing now is not very different to what I did back then.
One important change I’ve noticed is the way brands and companies hold inventory now. No one can afford to invest the same amount of money that they used to on stock for their wholesale partnerships. Even for their own stores, it is a fine line on how much stock to carry.
Also the focus of apparel isn’t as important as it was back in the day. The young kids are buying vintage and secondhand and the older crowd honestly doesn’t really care as much as they used to. With the pandemic people are working from home and their social lives are completely different now so the emphasis is on other categories like wellness and home decor.
The focus on direct-to-consumer is the future of retail. Especially since online shopping is going to be the main method for consumer spending for a very, long time. But the problem is that without having an expert to guide the consumer, how would they know what to even look for? That is where I come in with my marketplace, the trusted source for things people need and want, the best of the best. Unique products that are on trend and things the shopper didn’t even realize they needed that are very important in enhancing their lives and giving stylish, thoughtful gifts. There is literally nowhere to shop anymore online or brick and mortar due to a huge shift with all the big box stores filing bankruptcy and most of the mom and pop stores going out of business. The change is fierce and retail and the way people shop will never be the same. The key now is service, delivery and keeping things simple.