When you walk into a shop your eyes are, most likely, drawn to the merchandise that is on display. Does it appeal to you? Is it something you would want to buy? However, there is so much more at play that subconsciously prompted you to walk in the store in the first place besides the merchandise. Savvy shop owners are keenly aware of this, and that the space in which you display your goods is as important as the goods themselves. As such, a great deal of time and care is often spent in establishing an atmosphere that will sculpt a space into one that appeals to the clientele. One that evokes positive mental, sensory and emotional responses, because, if you don’t create an appealing space, you are going to have a darn tough time getting people to even walk through the front door.
Abby Roen Flores, owner of Kansas City women’s clothing boutiques, COCO Brookside and Lady Bye, is quickly becoming a local style tour de force bringing a dose of fashion to the ladies of K.C. wrapped in a sleek and stylish shop package. Basically, Abby gets it. She has masterfully turned two storefronts in the charming and historic Brookside shops into bright, contemporary, fresh and welcoming spaces in which to beautifully display her collection of curated ladies apparel. I met Abby shortly after her shop, COCO, moved to the Waldo neighborhood in April of 2017. Life had been flipped upside down for Abby and her shop staff as the original location of COCO, opened only 1 month prior in Brookside, suffered catastrophic smoke and water damage when a neighboring business caught fire. Undeterred, Abby picked up the pieces, found a temporary location in Waldo, and re-opened shop within a matter of weeks.
Not one to sit idly, Abby also had another trick up her sleeve, opening yet another women’s apparel store. Lady Bye opened in the Brookside shops January of 2018. At a time that should have been celebratory in the opening of a new store, Abby found out that the original COCO location was going to be sold, having taken on more damage than the current owners were prepared to tackle. However, when one door closes another one opens. A different storefront, right around the corner from Lady Bye, in the Brookside shops became available, and in May of 2018 COCO found it’s new home.
This post has been something that Abby and I have talked about for a long time, as she’s traversed the winding road of finding permanent homes for her stores, and I am so excited to finally be able to share her story and her lovely shops. She and I recently sat down to discuss her thought process on setting up her stores on a decor level and how she approached creating an atmosphere that is different, yet cohesive between COCO and Lady Bye.
The mood board Abby originally created for the first incarnation of COCO was based around the store philosophy of Style + Community + Empowerment. “It was all about a more expansive style. Every body type, beautiful clothes,” Abby said. “I wanted everything in the store to be bright, white and airy to make the clothes stand out.”
When Lady Bye opened Abby had a different shop vibe in mind, one that would reflect the elegant style of clothing carried in the store. “We always say COCO is the California sister and Lady Bye is the New York sister,” she said. “I wanted Lady Bye to be elegant, light and white walls. I wanted it to look like something you would see in Manhattan.”
“I had a vision to do beautiful light wood floors in Lady Bye to contrast the dark floors of COCO,” Abby said. “The design of Lady Bye is minimal, yet every detail is thoughtful and presented to spark joy.”
Examples of the care and time taken to create a special space pop up in fun ways throughout the store. On a shopping trip to Bella Patina, Abby came across a beautiful antique gramophone cabinet that would become the cash wrap desk at Lady Bye, and one of Abby’s favorite decor elements in the shop. “I bought this for the shop before we even had a space for the shop,” Abby said.
Another element in designing the shop that Abby is fond of is the ambiance of the heavy velvet drapes of the fitting rooms. “I love the sound that the wood rods make as the curtains open and close on the dressing rooms,” Abby said.
Lighting fixtures were another design feature that Abby is proud of for both Lady Bye and COCO. The elegant, contemporary chandelier that hangs above the Lady Bye cash wrap provides a memorable and stunning statement in the space.
With a new space for COCO Brookside, Abby was able to expand and evolve from her original design plan for the shop. To evoke the “laid-back, casual evenings and weekend vibes” of the store’s merchandise Abby had a clear vision of how she wanted to design the space.
“I knew I wanted dark floors and white walls, high contrast neutrals. I loved the flooring in the original COCO space. I called Lumber Liquidators (where the flooring had originally been purchased) and they had a small quantity of the exact same flooring still in stock. It was just enough to floor the new COCO space,” Abby said. “I liked having that continuity for my heart in the overall design.”
On a personal note, I have to give special mention to the stunning marble wallpaper that takes up residence on the wall behind the store cash wrap area. Abby waited for so long to get this final decor element installed (and I waited so long to photograph it!) It truly provides a visual element that ties the space together.
Notes of positive and empowering messages are left by patrons of the shop as encouragement and inspiration for all who come to visit.
A stunning sputnik-style chandelier sparkles in gold above the floor creating a grand design impact from every angle of the shop.
“In any space I’m conceiving, my goal is to make people happy and to feel good,” Abby said, “to expand assumptions on what a retail store should look like.”
Looking towards the future, Abby promises to keep presenting “amazing things.” As well as looking to what they can do for the community.
I am thankful to Abby and the amazing ladies of COCO and Lady Bye for allowing me to share their story and the stunning spaces they have created. If you are in Kansas City and find your way to the lovely Brookside neighborhood be sure to stop in and see these two area gems. You’ll be so glad that you did!
**You can see more of Lady Bye and COCO’s collections of ladies fashions this Saturday, February 23rd from 10am-4pm, at the re:mporium Bridal Show. An assortment of vendors featuring Cottentale KC, Dance Fit Flow, D&R Flowers and Events, Dolce Bakery, Foxcroft Court Calligraphy, Hello Lovely, KC Wineworks, Fortuity USA, COCO and Lady Bye will be hosting this fun bridal “pop-up” with giveaways and fashion shows. And it is all completely FREE!**
Re:emporium (Plaza Location): 4707 Wyandotte Street, KCMO 64112