Gift Shop Plus Summer 2023
Kingfisher Road offers apparel, gifts for every occasion By Julie McCallum

Warm and welcoming apparel and gift boutique a dream for mother and daughter
All photos courtesy of Kingfisher Road.

Kingfisher Road in Woodland Hills, California, launched in 2004 out of a dream to create a unique boutique offering gifts that truly spoke to the heart. Kelly Epstein and her daughter Laura “Lo” Epstein have created a full-service apparel and gift store — a place where their customers can find the perfect outfit and a great hostess gift.

We sat down with this dynamic duo to learn how their destination store for the thoughtful and discerning customer came to be.

How did Kingfisher Road get started?

I loved the charitable events that were happening in our community. I would go to them and think, “What could I offer here that no one else offers?” A few ideas popped in my head — no one was selling picture frames and no one was offering giftwrapping. I invested $5,000, went to the LA Gift Show and ordered items that I thought would be great. So initially, I was selling at private events and right out of my garage. After about a year, it had grown and I knew I needed a storefront. I leased a 450-square-foot building (including the backroom)! From there, we have steadily continued to grow.

According to your website bio, you didn’t start out selling apparel. How and why did you add clothing to your store?

We opened our brick-and-mortar in 2004, and as I mentioned, very gifty, which is definitely in my wheelhouse. I slowly introduced a few tops here and there — at a friendly price point. They were sized, but we did not initially have a dressing room. In about 2008, I was out on a shopping trip with a friend and we stopped at a cute clothing store. She purchased a great tunic. I said, “Would you buy that at my store?” She was like, “Um, yes!” Initially, we just got rolling racks to give it a test run, and it completely took off. In our area, a lot of the neighboring stores were selling fast fashion. I thought that what was missing were quality clothes — they might cost a bit more but worth the investment. Women were loving coming to a place that honored their authenticity, where they could get a cute outfit AND buy a gift. Now, we are really a lifestyle store. We have clothing, jewelry, gifts, menswear and fabulous baby gifts.

What is the vibe when a customer walks into your store for the first time?

Welcoming! We like our store to be a safe haven for folks. You can browse and enjoy yourself or run in for a quick gift. Basically we want you to leave happier than when you arrived — having felt a sense of community.

Where do you source your apparel? Any local lines?

We typically go to Vegas for Magic and Project; of course to LA Market; and recently, we went to Dallas Market. We have a lot of reps that come to us, as well. In fashion, you typically order up to six months ahead of time, so it involves a lot of planning.

What puts you on the map for gift and apparel boutiques?

We are so proud to serve our community and honor our customers who shop here. We have honed in on our niche, which is staying away from trends and honoring our customers’ authenticity.

What are your top-selling jewelry and accessories?

We have carried Uno de 50 for over a decade, and women love it. It’s well made and highly collectible. Lo is also a jewelry designer, and we are proud to offer an in-house customizable jewelry experience. Her pieces are one-of-a-kind! We currently carry about 15 different jewelry lines in all price ranges — we want to make it fun. For accessories, we love that we sell Hammitt Designer bags and Consuela bags. All of these lines come with territory protection, which I think only benefits the area and the brands.

What is the hardest thing to keep in stock?

For clothing, it would be Bevy/Flog pants. We are so grateful that the CEO of this line is local, so she can bring us her latest drops — again, a collectible line and high quality. Also, Jellycat! We place fill-in orders every week — it is so key to stay on top of our inventory. Those are just a few examples.

What is your favorite part of owning this store?

As I answer this, I am looking at my daughter, who is really my right hand! We are so grateful to work together and be able to have a partnership where we each have our strengths that we get to bring to our business. Lo is a fashion guru; I appreciate fashion and have an eye, but she really has a gift. Of course over the span of almost 20 years, the relationships with my customers are very close to our hearts. We get to grow with them from celebrations of weddings, births, milestone birthdays, and yes — illnesses and even death. We are right there for them ready to serve and support. We are the ultimate retail therapy destination and wouldn’t want it any other way.

What are your plans for the future of the store?

When the pandemic began, we realized we needed to up our website and really go all in. So, we continue to navigate having a brick-and-mortar and a website and continue to learn as the climate of retail continues to change — we move forward and love what we do.

Julie McCallum

Julie McCallum is publisher of Gift Shop Magazine. She is formerly the editor-in-chief of the publication, as well as editor of Museums & More, and she has more than 25 years experience in publishing.

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