If you're looking to hone your paparazzi skills and need to find local fashionistas for subjects, look no further than . Entering the women's retailer on Throckmorton Avenue is said to be akin to walking into a woman's dream closet. If Sarah Jessica Parker ever visits the 94941 (and Carolina Boutique), she might just lose it.
Mill Valley Patch: Where are you from originally and what brought you to Mill Valley?
Carolina Loiacono: I was born in Cuba, and moved to Los Angeles when I was six. I've been in Marin for 16 years, and currently live in Novato. I've also lived in Larkspur and Nicasio. My husband is a Bay Area native (Mother Hips guitarist Greg Loiacono) and grew up in the area.
MVP: What made you open your shop in Mill Valley and what was the journey like to get here?
CL: I love Mill Valley and think it has all the perfect elements of a small town. Local people come into the shop and sit and chat, which I love. I just landed here, it's been a long-time dream to own a clothing boutique. I used to work retail in high school, and in college I ran a boutique in Santa Barbara. I always knew what I wanted to do but I did other things in-between. I finally got to come back to the things that make me happy.
MVP: What else did you do before owning your own boutique?
CL: I did so many different things, I have a Master's degree in social work, have worked in consulting, and on the wholesale side of the business. It's all life experience, so I don't regret it. It took a while to get here.
MVP: What was your experience with the community when you first opened?
CL: It was really interesting when I first opened because everybody had a comment. Either about the interior or exterior, I had so many people comment on the bright pink door. It was a big deal that I chose a hot pink color. The community is involved and they have an opinion because they feel that it's their town. People participate in events, they are truly part to the community. It was fun to meet all of the locals and get to know all the different personalities. Overall the community has been so welcoming and customers have welcomed us with opened arms.
MVP: How would you describe the Carolina demographic?
CL: I'm a mom, have two kids and still like to be fashionable and comfortable. I want things to be comfortable, soft, luxurious, and I know that's what my customers want: Items that are very wearable and fit with their lifestyle. This is not Los Angeles, this is Mill Valley, and my customers are all different ages from early 20s to 70s.
In every age group, people are really coming in and looking for the same thing. We all want to look our best, but we don't want to suffer through it. We wear about 20-30 percent of things in our closets, I want those things to be items that people really love. Don't just buy to buy, buy it to wear it.
MVP: How would you describe the difference between fashion here in the 94941 and fashion in Los Angeles?
CL: My view on it is that in LA everyone is generally trying to out-do each other by the way they're dressing. People are focused on a trend rather than what looks good on them. What we try to do here is focus on what's best for a customer's body and coloring instead of necessarily following a trend. People in Mill Valley want to look stylish but don't want to be over the top. We still want to look beautiful, luxurious, and on trend, but not over the top.
MVP: What are some of your favorite things to do in Mill Valley?
CL: I love sitting at the bar at , I like shopping in Mill Valley, I go to , , and . When my kids are here we go to the park and the . I also love going to the , the music and the food is excellent! My husband is a local musician in a band called The Mother Hips. They played at the Sweetwater a couple of weeks ago.
MVP: If you could change one thing about Mill Valley, what would it be?
CL: Parking is always a difficult thing. I'd change the fact that customers don't have easy access to parking or that they get a ticket while shopping here. If someone is shopping at the store and get a ticket they might not come back, maybe not local people but for someone from San Rafael, for example.
MVP: What's in your iPod?
CL: Gotye, I saw him in concert recently. The Mother Hips, of course. Kimbra, who is from New Zealand and sings with Gotye. Pitbull for fun dance tunes in the car, and a lot of David Bowie at the store.