After nearly a decade as a St. Paul retailer, Karma boutique owner Jada Breuer is passing the boho baton to a former employee and her sister, Jesse and Wynn Barber.
"We've always loved Karma, so when Jada approached with the opportunity to take the business over from her there wasn't a question of whether or not we should, but how we could make it work," says Jesse, who worked part time at Karma while she was in an MBA program, and now holds her realtors license. Wynn Barber has managed several St. Paul restaurants and owned her own floral design and landscape company. Breuer says they were the obvious choice when she decided to move on, taking a job with interior design firm Vivid Interiors.
It's been a good run for Breuer, who was selling bohemian chic women's apparel on Grand Avenue long before Anthropologie arrived, and continued to thrive even after. But retail has changed since she entered the game, and so have our spending habits.
Breuer says she had hoped a recent move from Grand Avenue to Selby and Snelling would reinvigorate the store. But as she tried incorporate more expensive merchandise, Breuer says anything in the $80 to $144 range didn't move. Oddly, items more expensive, as well as less expensive, did.
Breuer says she's come to believe that fast fashion, which has a higher profit margin, is the only way for a small independent boutique to really make it in St. Paul (BlackBlue and Idun might disagree). She pointed to the success of Primp, which keeps prices below $100 and Len, where everything is always half off.
The Barber sisters will taking a price-conscious approach to the store—staying true to Karma's contemporary style. They traveled to Los Angeles on a buying trip this week with Breuer. "We want to make the Karma brand that we love more accessible to everyone," Jesse Barber says.
The Barbers take over April 1. They are planning a store party for April 18.