Former Vanity co-workers open women's clothing boutique in south Fargo

FARGO-The newest boutique in town aims to "honor" the women it serves-especially their time and their wallets.

Co-owner Jill Shea said Leela & Lavender, the second business to open in the new The Shoppes at BLU Water Creek building, 3265 45th St. S., is meant to be a "one-stop style shop" where women can find the right attire for work, going out or anything else.

"We feel like the world is so pressured, and we want her to be able to come in here and very quickly pull together head-to-toe outfits," Shea said.

Shea, who opened the store Wednesday, Oct. 25, with fellow co-owner Laura Polanski, said the team also selected clothing, accessories and gifts that range in price from moderate to premium, a way to fit the budget of everyone.

They'll celebrate with a grand opening from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Nov. 9 that will include appetizers and giveaways.

The 2,500-square-foot store that boasts white walls and an airy, cozy atmosphere with unexpected amenities like a fireplace, lounge area and bar is the result of years of dreaming on the part of the co-owners.

"We just saw a void in the industry for something like Leela," Shea said.

The two worked together for about 12 years in specialty retail, most recently working for Fargo-based Vanity until the women's clothing business with about 140 stores closed in March.

Even before the demise of Vanity, Shea said she knew there was a need for personalized service and giving back to the community in the clothing industry here. That's why their store will donate a portion of profits to the FM Area Foundation Women's Fund to benefit charities for women and children.

"We really feel business can be a force for good and that fashion in general can also be a force for good," Polanski said.

The name has a couple meanings, according to Shea. "Leela" means "great adventure" or "great discovery," a fitting moniker for a store that aims to offer "style adventure" to customers.

The "lavender" part reflects the goal of being a relaxing, spa-like place to shop, relax or even hold private events like bachelorette or birthday parties, Polanski said.

"We want people to feel good when they shop here," she said. "We really want to empower women to be their best self."

The business partners also thought carefully before picking The Shoppes building for their first store. Shea said they were drawn by the "lifestyle" concept of this area, with Hair Success Salon & Day Spa nearing completion of its new facility along 45th Street and other women-centric businesses planning to open near there in the future.

Polanski said it's also a way to offer boutique shopping in this growing corridor of south Fargo that doesn't have a high concentration of women's stores like downtown Fargo.

If they have their way, Leela & Lavender customers could soon have several other locations to shop at. Shea said they hope to open one new store each year for the next five years, growing their brand across the region.

"We've been dreaming of it for many years," she said.

Polanski said she'd like to see their first business become a place where women of all ages can find new looks, gifts and a good shopping experience.

"We've been saying it's not about an age level; fashion is about a taste level," she said.

Business profile

What: Leela & Lavender

Where: The Shoppes at BLU Water Creek, 3265 45th St. S., Fargo

Hours: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday (holiday season hours will be extended)

Phone: (701) 532-0505