Retailer of the Week
11 Dec. 2013
Aurora Lopez, owner, Mirador, USA, New York CityOnly in business since October 2013, Mirador is a new men’s and women’s multibrand boutique just off of West 8th Street in Greenwich Village, a block that is currently enjoying a retail revival thanks in part to the recent opening of the über-trendy Marlton Hotel down the road. Housed in a charming landmarked building at the front of an otherwise residential alley, the shop offers an original assortment of cult designerwear. Here, first time storeowner Aurora Lopez discusses Mirador’s concept, assortment, name, team and what she has already learned in the short time that the shop has been open. Interview by Christopher Blomquist
What is your background and the idea behind the concept of Mirador?
I went to school for economics and photography and I worked in finance for a couple of years before deciding to venture out on my own. Initially I was going to open an art gallery, as I am an avid photography collector, but I realized I didn't have enough money or personal connections to successfully do so. I then thought about opening an accessories store but when I realized all the interesting and talented people that existed in fashion I saw an opportunity to create something new, and very much my own, in the retail world.
What are your bestselling brands and items thus far?
We haven't been open long enough for me to name a decisive bestselling brand but we've seen a lot of movement in both Raquel Allegra and NSF as well as a lot of customer interest in Nomia and Ohne Titel for our womenswear collections. For menswear we've seen a lot of interest in all brands that are either Japanese or American made such as Left Field, Kapital, Battenwear, Post Overalls and Robert Geller.
View inside the store
Who is your typical customer?
Our greatest customers have been tourists or people that live in the area. They range in ages and sizes but they are all excited to see our curation and to learn about the brands we carry since we have such a global mix. I've had a lot of fun getting to know a wide range of people; I think the intimacy of our space is something that is inviting to everyone.
What sets Mirador apart from other boutiques in the area or even NYC in general?
I think the fact that we have made the store a reflection of ourselves sets it apart. Every store that I love in New York is somehow a pure reflection of the people behind it. We are all very geeky in the way that we look for brands as well as in the way we merchandise. We like to first know the story of the people behind brands and then we evaluate to see if it fits with our own identity. Our team is an eclectic mix of individuals who all happen to share an aesthetic and a belief system; this makes us a great team. We're also doing a lot of initiatives that go far beyond fashion. We are partnering with Gallery 51 to curate fine art photography in our shop and in January we will begin to offer customized trips to my home country, Guatemala.
How and where do you discover the brands that you carry?
The process is quite intuitive. At first I was looking for brands all over the world and now that the store is open and we are establishing our identity it is easier to find what works for us. We have started reaching out to brands that all of us have followed for years as well as looking for newer propositions in New York and abroad. We find brands through one another as we are all avid shoppers so it is an ongoing process of discovery.
Please discuss the store's decor.
Our space is quite small, it's about 600 square feet [56 sq. meters] but it is in a jewel box building so it is very easy to make it feel special and unique. We have a mix of exposed brick, wood floors, Vitsoe shelves and midcentury Dutch furniture sprinkled throughout. The store's decor is by no means complete and we are constantly thinking up ways to bring in more design elements that help us merchandise while at the same time give the space a sense of warmth and comfort. My hope is that people walk in here and feel like they can browse but also hang out.
What has been the biggest challenge of being a retailer thus far?
Initially, because of my background in an unrelated area, the learning curve for buying was very steep. It was an entirely new universe for me so I had to learn a lot of rules and metrics that were entirely unfamiliar. Another big challenge was the actual construction process. New York is a funny place with a lot of rules and regulations, especially in a landmarked building like ours. Finding people to trust is always a challenge but I've been lucky in finding all the right people at exactly the right times.
Where does the store name come from?
The name was inspired by my home country, Guatemala. Mirador is the name of a stretch of jungle filled with Mayan ruins that still remain underground. The literal translation of Mirador is “vantage point,” which seemed doubly appropriate for a store like mine where being able to propose a unique point of view is my main goal.
What trend or item do you see becoming big in the coming months/seasons?
It is hard for me to talk about trends in particular as we tend to be trend agnostic in our buys but I can say that we did buy a lot of jumpsuits, overalls and destroyed denim for women. Our menswear buy is definitely not reflective of any sort of trend. Instead, the effort was to buy pieces from each brand that we consider to be effective communications of what the brands stand for. I'm very excited about everything we have delivering in the upcoming season as I aim to be a platform for each brand. I think the majority of trend forecasting happens on the design side so I just want to help our designers get out there and showcase their vision.
Please discuss the store's unusual location. Why did you choose it, etc.?
The location chose me. I was looking for a space for about four months before I came across this one. I live very close by and I walked past the space one day after the former tenant, a laundromat, had burned down. Given how special the building is and knowing that Stumptown was about to open up a coffee shop next door I immediately called the landlord and it turned out to be my landlord for my apartment. As a new retailer with no experience, the chances of getting a great space like this one would have been very low if it weren't for the fact that I was already on great terms with the landlord. The lease signing process was very quick and easy.
How do you stay in touch with customers and promote the store?
We have a notebook at the store where customers can sign up for our newsletter and we are active on all social media platforms.
What are two or three "golden rules" of retail that every shop owner needs to follow?
1. Build a team that you can trust (Keep good company and take care of those you call your own) 2. Plan for success but be prepared to fail (My background in finance has helped me build many, many spreadsheets forecasting all possible scenarios) 3. Never lose sight of your own identity and never try to copy what others are doing (If you don't compete with anyone, no one will compete with you).
What is your favorite memory of the store thus far?
I've loved seeing the Mirador team come together. We are small but we are like family. We've worked very hard to get to where we are but we've always done it because we all really believe in what we are doing together.
Does the store offer any special services, etc.?
As I mentioned earlier, we are preparing to function as an art gallery as well as a bespoke travel agent. We also have a wide array of great publications available such as Inventory, Green Soccer Journal, Fantastic Man, amongst others. I'm trying to make Mirador a space for culture more than just for fashion.
Do you plan to have an online shop one day? Why or why not?
Absolutely. I think e-commerce is crucial for our success. I shop almost exclusively online, so an online store is a key part of our business model. We hope to have our e-commerce go live by the beginning of February 2014.
1 Macdougal Alley
New York, NY 10011
+1 917 639 3601
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