Combining her passion for hunting down the best boutiques with her past experience as a boutique owner, Sarah Winston launched shoplocalstyle.com, an e-commerce site offering goods from New Orleans shops.
Together with business partner Joe Luft, Winston designed a site where customers can shop the chicest boutiques in New Orleans — all from the comfort of their sofas — and get discount prices.
"Since 2008, e-commerce has grown dramatically," says Winston, who started shoplocalstyle.com last summer. "Flash sale sites like RueLaLa, Gilt Group and Fab.com are driving our culture." While flash sale sites are thriving, shoppers still appreciate the brick-and-mortar boutique experience. "Boutique shopping is an $80 billion-a-year business globally," Winston says.
Shoplocalstyle.com offers a selection of women's and men's fashions, children's clothing, decorative items and home decor including fine antiques. Its list of retailers includes Haute, Jean Therapy, Karla Katz and Co., Mirabella, Style Lab, S.N.A.P. and Victoria Boutique, to name a few.
"We're answering that need of how small stores are going to be innovative in a new economic climate," says Winston, who in March was one of 15 start-up companies to compete in The Idea Village's annual Big Idea challenge. "We're for the jet-setting, travel-loving shopper who wants the option of shopping small stores on the Internet."
Next year, Winston hopes to expand the concept to surrounding areas including Metairie, the Northshore, Baton Rouge and Lafayette. That's only the start, she says.
"Imagine sitting at your desk in New Orleans and discovering a quaint boutique on a quiet street in Paris," says Winston. "But even more exciting than that: Imagine somebody sitting at her desk in Paris and discovering your favorite boutique on Magazine Street." — LEE CUTRONE