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La Femme Chic, more than just a boutique

SOLANA BEACH — Janet Sinclair, owner of the La Femme Chic Consignment Boutique, envisions her new shop to be more than a place to find designer labels at a fraction of the cost, but a place where she can have a positive impact in her community.
“Our hope is to have an event once a month and to have it benefit a charity each time we do something,” Sinclair said.
Sinclair recently hosted a special fundraising event along with Wines for Humanity, a nonprofit group that brings tastings and wine sales to events. The boutique also held a special sale with a portion of the proceeds going to North County Lifeline, which provides social services throughout North County coastal cities.
The boutique opened in April and celebrated their grand opening in May. The grand opening festivities also served as an opportunity to raise funds for Operation Greyhound, a group dedicated to finding greyhounds new homes. That evening earned $1,500 for the charity that is especially close to Sinclair whose rescued greyhound Sedona is a boutique fixture and is featured on the store’s logo.
Before opening, Sinclair did some research and found that resale is one of the only areas of retail that is thriving in this economy. “It’s a perfect way to recycle and make some money off of stuff in your closet,” she said.
The 11,081-square-foot boutique often features clothing to accommodate everyone from teens to older women. There may not be a whole lot of merchandise for everybody, but there’s something for every price point, for every size, Sinclair added.
“We have stuff in there from $2 to over $2,000. And I guess what I see us in the community (doing) is I want everybody to feel like, ‘You know what? When I walk in the store, I feel special; I feel beautiful; I feel respected and it’s a prime place to be.’ And many, many people come in and have said, ‘Oh my goodness, we’re so glad you’re here.’ It gives people an opportunity to indulge in some of the most amazing designer brands that there are — Chanel, Gucci, Prada — at a fraction of the retail cost.”
Sinclair can afford to do that because she doesn’t have to pay for her inventory. Her inventory comes from all over North County including Solana Beach, Encinitas, Del Mar and Rancho Santa Fe. A lot of the inventory she receives has never been worn.
There are a lot of misconceptions about consignment stores, Sinclair said, adding that one of her missions when designing the store was to make it a very elegant environment. “I think a lot of the misconception is that consignment stores have stuff that nobody else wants, and my store is the exact opposite. I have stuff people really want.”
She has clientele that have come from as far as Arizona and Las Vegas to Los Angeles. They also have a loyal group of local shoppers that come in every week.
Teri Franklin and Denise Schwartz, Solana Beach residents and regulars to the boutique, said living within walking distance to the shop was very dangerous — in a good way.
“It doesn’t feel like a consignment shop,” Schwartz said.
Sinclair purposely designed the space to feel like a French boutique so that people would feel like they were in a very upscale, but very comfortable boutique, she said.
“I see us as a place where people can come and relax, listen to some French music, have a little tea and feel like their presence there is respected and that there is something there for them. I never want people to walk in to the store and say, ‘Well, this is way out of my price range.’”
This is the only women’s consignment boutique on Cedros Avenue, Sinclair said. The boutique offers a wish list where customers can add certain pieces of clothing or designers that they might be looking for. Sinclair only offers what people bring in to the boutique and she never knows from one day to the next what that might be. They are very particular with the inventory they take.
“A lot of it we turn away because it’s not the quality that we want, or it’s not the right season,” she said. “We look for a lot of things that are fashion forward, things that are a little bit more cutting edge, but we also take the classics.”
This month, the boutique is featuring a wide variety of hats as Del Mar prepares for opening day of the horse races.
Sinclair began her career as a booking agent for models in New York City. That’s where she discovered consignment stores and how useful they were after seeing the models she represented wearing dresses that cost more than she made in a month. As her career progressed, Sinclair was able to shop in designer stores, but still loved going into consignment stores where she could find a pair of shoes at a third of what she would pay retail.
“I love that kind of thrill of the hunt,” she said.
La Femme Chic is open Monday through Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 12:30 to 5 p.m. They are at 415 S. Cedros Ave. For more information, call (858) 345-1480, or visit