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Downtown Encinitas sees businesses booming

ENCINITAS — The number of service and goods merchants that have relocated to downtown Encinitas is growing by leaps and bounds. The city has become a major commerce destination while maintaining its charm and unique character — two of the main reasons cited by relocating businesses.
From boutiques to branding agencies to high-end skin care destinations, downtown Encinitas has become the optimal headquarters for growing businesses according to several merchants who have made the move. With the influx of specialty merchants choosing downtown Encinitas as a place to call home, the variety of goods and services continues to increase.
Icons, a clothing boutique established 10 years ago, with previous locations in Rancho Santa Fe and Solana Beach, opened Dec. 23, 2010 in the new Pacific Station plaza. Thanks to an established clientele and an increasing number of loyalists, the shop is thriving.
Owner Jenna Motta said she chose to make the move to propel her business to the next level. Motta is hoping to increase foot traffic at the boutique and exposure to new local clients and visitors alike.
“Downtown is a destination,” she said. “This location really creates a town center feeling.”
Naming her boutique in honor of famous women in fashion such as Jackie Kennedy and Audrey Hepburn, Icons sells women’s clothing, accessories and jewelry, placing a huge emphasis on friendly customer service and quality merchandise.
“We strive for one-on-one customer service,” Motta said. “We help to define a woman’s style and achieve her styling goals.”
Icons caters to women with mature tastes who are “trend-conscious but not trendy,” according to Motta. With over 100 different lines represented in the store the tasteful, quality clothing achieves an all around boutique atmosphere that continues to thrive in its new downtown location.
Parallax, a branding and interactive agency recently relocated to a storefront location at 555 Second Street. Owners Jonathan Hanwit and his wife, Guusje spent seven years building the business in San Diego before making the move. After six months searching for the perfect site, Hanwit said he hit “pay dirt” in downtown Encinitas.
“It had the right energy, the right mix of businesses,” he said. “For us it was the right fit of art and culture.”
When the couple moved to Leucadia last year they sought a suitable location that provided both a creative space for the design studio and to serve as a professional meeting destination.
“With clients such as Qualcomm and La Jolla Country Day, it’s a treat for them to visit us here in our studio,” Hanwit said. “It’s also nice to be able to ride my bike to work and go for a surf or a swim during lunch.”
The new location of the business is indicative of the bulk of the work that the business endeavors.
“The majority of our projects in the last two or three years have been about making a positive impact on society,” according to Hanwit. “We come up with the look and feel that connects a client to their audience.”
Many of the clients include educational institutions, such as the San Diego Community College District and can last in duration anywhere from three weeks to nine months.
“We have six regular staff combined with up to 10 freelancers at any given time,” Hanwit said. “This is a good environment for us to do what we do.”
Another unique business that is making a big impression on locals and visitors is NuboNau, a natural and organic skincare boutique that opened its doors at 553 S. Coast Highway 101 in March of this year. With an international collection of products to choose from, skincare specialists tailor each consultation to the client’s individual needs.
The business does booming Internet sales of hard to find product lines, but it is the special attention to clients in a one-on-one setting at the peaceful boutique that allows the customer to truly experience the full range of pampering services.
“One of the comments I hear most is that people are just overwhelmed with how many different products we have,” said manager Sophia Castillo.
Partners Hazel and Phil Walker created the NuboNau “concept” while still residing in England in 2007. Following the couple’s emigration from the United Kingdom to the United States and their subsequent arrival in San Diego, NuboNau opened its first retail shop in Carlsbad in 2009.
“In the Forum, there was limited space so that we couldn’t provide the specialty facials that clients were asking for,” said marketing manager Clemence Coussy.
With most of the boutique’s clients residing in Encinitas, making the move to downtown was a natural fit. The health-oriented, healthy lifestyles of area residents also served as an impetus for relocating according to Coussy.
“The owners were driving by the location and though it provided the perfect exposure,” Coussy said. “Here you feel like you’re able to express who you are as a boutique and as a retailer.”