As most boutique owners will readily admit, opening a retail store is no small feat—the process can take months, even years. For Linda LaRosa, the fashionable proprietress of Shop Sixty Five, a contemporary women’s boutique in Doylestown, her dream of settling down in Gladwyne has been more than 15 years in the making.
“I was thinking about Gladwyne way before Doylestown,” says the Pennsylvania native, who opened the Main Line outpost of Shop Sixty Five in mid-October. “My sister lives there and I’ve always thought it was so cute and charming. But there wasn’t much of a retail district, and nothing would have worked for the kind of boutique I wanted to open at the time.”
Fourteen years later, LaRosa’s sister was out walking her dog and noticed that a storefront had become available on Righters Mill Road. She called immediately with the news. “It was a diamond in the rough,” says LaRosa. “I’m one of those people who believe in serendipitous occasions. This felt like one of those moments.”
It seems like her life has been filled with happy accidents. That’s how this once-aspiring singer got her start in the fashion world. She was living in Prague shortly after the fall of Communism and decided to produce a fashion show featuring up-and-coming designers to jump-start the city’s nonexistent retail community. Says LaRosa, “The fashion show was a hopeful moment in time for everyone who loved and craved fashion.”
Taken with her sartorial eye, the editor-in-chief of Elle magazine’s Czech edition called the next day and offered her a job as a fashion editor. LaRosa still sounds incredulous when she tells the story.
“I didn’t even know what a fashion editor was at that time. But I went to the office and pretended I knew what I was doing, and that was it. You know, ‘Fake it ’til you make it,’” she adds with a laugh. From there she went to the Czech Harper’s Bazaar and, after five years, moved to New York armed with an enviable portfolio and determined to be a stylist. Bookings quickly followed, styling celebrities like Naomi Campbell, Jennifer Connelly, and Portia de Rossi and working on photo shoots with InStyle, Esquire, and Entertainment Weekly. But it was her work with Glamour magazine that LaRosa found the most meaningful.
“We would do makeover situations with normal people, like a woman who lost 30 pounds and wanted to wear a dress again,” she says, mentioning that she was in the running to be a host of What Not to Wear, the TLC show that eventually made stylist Stacey London famous. “Transforming people’s wardrobes is such a huge passion of mine.”
So it’s no surprise that working with women to build their best look—“Some clients will even bring in their purchases from other stores to get feedback”—is central to the experience at Shop Sixty Five, which LaRosa launched in 2003. And with this season’s trends proving to be edgier than ever—faux fur, oversize knits, novelty denim, and leather anything, says LaRosa—in-store styling has become an invaluable service here.
At the new Gladwyne location, staple brands like Helmut Lang, Diane von Furstenberg, Rag & Bone, and Elizabeth and James share space with coveted labels such as Raquel Allegra, IRO, and Zadig & Voltaire. “These designers are harder to find in our area—they’re usually carried in New York or LA,” La Rosa says. “We wanted to shake things up a bit on the Main Line with contemporary pieces, then take some of those styles and develop them in your wardrobe in a different way.”
A boot from See by Chloe, and a wedge by Cynthia Vincent are among the season’s on-trend selections.
Accessories, particularly shoes, are also part of LaRosa’s plan to make the Gladwyne boutique even more high-end than the Doylestown location. But even with a more luxe outlook for the Main Line, she realizes that fashion needs to remain functional for her overscheduled and on-the-go clients. “We aren’t in Hollywood. We all lead regular lives, going to work and running our kids around.”
She should know, as someone juggling her own business and raising a daughter. So, is running another store adding to her already packed agenda? For LaRosa, it all comes back to those serendipitous moments. “It’s the 10th anniversary of my Doylestown location, and my daughter is 10 years old,” she says. “It’s like my babies are grown up. Now was the perfect time to open Gladwyne.” 342 Righters Mill Road, Gladwyne, 484-417-6675