merchants: Francesca's clothing Boutique
In less than six years, Francesca's has become a well-known and popular women's clothing boutique with stores in both Arroyo Seco and Taos. This cozy venue carries feel-good apparel made in exotic countries including India, Nepal, and Thailand where American designs are crafted into one-of-a-kind affordable clothing. The store is filled with wrap-around skirts, dresses, tee shirts, tank tops, stretch pants, cotton and silk kurthas, groovy wrap pants, sandals and flip flops, sarongs, peasant tops, straw and wide-brimmed cotton hats, Hard Tail sportswear, yoga apparel, collectible jewelry, and much more.
The Francesca's in Arroyo Seco has recently expanded to provide customers more browsing room, more display space, and more merchandise.
One of the new rooms is occupied by Maya's Closet, an inviting space that is filled with girl's clothing ranging
in size from 4 to 6X and 7 to 14. It is managed by Melissa, who is Francesca's daughter and the mother of 5-year-old Maya.
“Kids love our selections of fun clothing,” said Melissa. “We presently are stocking a lot of summer options, such as cute colorful dresses, skirts, Capri pants, and tee shirts. I plan to stock reasonably priced clothing for little girls and middle girls that locals want and can't find anywhere else.”
The story of Francesca's Clothing Boutique begins with its owner, Francesca Medina, who was raised on Long Island and brought up in the women's clothing business. Her mother owned a women's designer clothing shop, and her father owned a women's sportswear store. Francesca attended Manhattan's prestigious Fashion Institute of Technology, one of the largest fashion schools in the world and a breeding ground for upcoming New York designers and entrepreneurs.
After graduation, Francesca managed a boutique on Madison Avenue, raised her two daughters, and founded a successful gem and mineral business on Long Island in 1983. But the over-stimulated environment of the suburbs was annoying, and after 17 years there, she quickly accepted a stranger's offer to buy her store in 2000.
Francesca had been visiting New Mexico for 20 years to buy Native American arts, and her frequent destinations included Santa Fe, Taos, Gallup, and Shiprock. After selling her New York store, she set out on an extended vacation to see her daughter Liz and her grandson Judah who were living in Arroyo Seco. Soon after her mother's arrival in New Mexico, Liz suggested that Francesca move to Seco and rent an empty building once known as the post office where she could open a store and live in the back. Everything fell into place, and Francesca's other daughter Melissa and her granddaughter Maya soon followed.
Soon, Francesca was back in business in a completely new setting. “I had no idea what I was going to do,” she said in her characteristic animated style. “I temporarily set up goods that were left over from my New York store, mostly American Indian jewelry and artifacts, and a few fur coats. I was just barely making it, but within three months I sold all my inventory and even my antique showcases to some collectors that I knew.”
“My father had always said, 'You gotta get the Big Idea, the whole purpose of what you're doing.' I realized that I should return to my roots and go back into clothing sales because the local women needed reasonably priced clothes. My Big Idea was to offer imported and unusual women's clothes, with most items priced between $15 and $40, in a cute boutique with a down-home atmosphere, thinking all the time about my mother and her successful business and what she would do.”
So Francesca returned to her old stomping grounds, New York City's famed Garment District, where she stocked up on cotton kurthas, silken sarongs, and simple dresses. The clothes were made in foreign countries, yet instead of being truly ethnic, they were designed for American tastes and sizes at affordable prices.
“I had the Big Idea, but I didn't know if it would work out or not,” Francesca remembered. “Arroyo Seco is somewhat remote and off the beaten path. I reopened in March 2001 with a small stock of imported clothes, and I had a huge response. I was working seven days a week, trying to figure out the rhythm of things. All the while, my mother was watching me from a photo on the shelf.”
Francesca's friendly welcoming atmosphere and terrific
prices formed a winning combination, and it soon developed a regular clientele. The store flourished and, thanks to its loyal customers, it was voted the #1 Best Boutique in Taos County after being in business for only 5 years (and twice before took second)!
The store also carries Native American jewelry featuring the work of Navajo artist Orville Tsinnie who has created beautiful handcrafted pieces since 1971. Francesca has represented his work for the last 17 years and is proud to offer the largest selection of his jewelry in all of New Mexico.
In September 2002, Francesca's opened a second boutique in Taos to be more accessible to local customers. The store is conveniently located on Paseo del Pueblo Sur, a half block south of the light at the Plaza. It offers the same type of merchandise as the Seco store and has a clearance room with bargains galore. After helping her mom to open the Taos store, daughter Liz does the books and pitches in as needed.
It is easy to stop by Francesca's in Arroyo Seco or in Taos because both stores are open seven days a week. Also plan to enjoy the upcoming annual Fourth of July parade in Seco, which starts at noon. WHAT A GREAT TIME TO BE A GIRL!