Person Behind The Place:
Rachael Nov has always entangled herself in the world of fashion, reading cover to cover of Vogue Magazine as a kid. From working at Barneys in Seattle to being a buyer for an independent boutique in Kirkland, Nov’s history of jobs is evidence that she fell in love with the fashion industry. After helping her friend open a shoe store, Nov was inspired to take her own leap of faith and open La Ree Boutique 16 years ago.
Old Bellevue, as Nov describes it, is surrounded by supportive, independent family-owned businesses. She enjoys being around mom-and-pop shops and knew this was exactly the place she wanted to be. In 2018, she opened Gin and The Banker a few doors down from La Ree Boutique, selling beautiful, unique jewelry. One day she hopes to combine the stores and create one space where people can come in and find the exact style they’re looking for.
Hear more about what Nov believes La Ree Boutique offers to the community, how the pandemic has affected small businesses and where to find her in Downtown Bellevue.
How has the pandemic affected La Ree Boutique?
La Ree Boutique was closed for three months. In 2020, the clothing industry took a huge hit since people weren’t going anywhere and there wasn’t a need to dress up. When you looked at our jewelry store, it was completely different. There was still a high demand for jewelry because people could layer accessories with pajamas and t-shirts. I am extremely thankful for the community after we opened back up. The support we received from everyone was insane, it was incredible. People were coming by just to say hi and see how we were doing. It allowed us to grow closer to our customers and deepen our relationship on a different level. Our team also became closer, we bonded and supported each other, helping us grow stronger as a team. We always showed up for each other.
Is there a style you see the downtown community gravitate towards?
I would say the people who come through our doors are looking for something a bit edgier, and they’re also interested in brand recognition. We have a cross between upper Eastside and Downtown style. While we do have certain brands, it does change constantly, especially during the pandemic. Throughout COVID-19, our clientele has loved activewear and we sold tons of Golden Goose sneakers and cozy, comfortable clothes. As soon as June or July hit, people were ready to put on pretty summer dresses to bask in the sun. Around the holidays, things will change again. We'll see fancier, dressier items go out the door. I believe it’s because people can get back into expressing themselves through fashion because the pandemic held them back for so long.
What is your favorite part about working in Downtown Bellevue?
I saw a lot of opportunity for growth in Bellevue and knew what this place was going to be like in the future. There’s just overwhelming support throughout Old Bellevue and you get to know your customers so well. I’m excited to continue to see the growth happen before my eyes.
Any favorite places to dine out in Downtown?
Cantinetta is amazing. I love the food, I love the team and the management is incredible. Their entire staff supported us throughout the pandemic and continues to check on us. It all goes back to how supportive Old Bellevue can be. I also love Bis on Main, the owner Joe is a great guy, and they have the best chicken and truffle fries around.
Where do you like to shop in Bellevue?
I love supporting businesses around Old Bellevue. Smith & Main is great and I adore Chanel, the owner. I end up recommending people to her when we don’t have something here. I go nextdoor to Lorali's Optical for my glasses, they have an amazing selection.
What kind of atmosphere do you hope to provide to the Downtown community?
I want our customers to feel at home and feel like they’ve just walked into their best friend's house. It doesn’t matter if they just purchase a candle or if they reach for a cashmere sweater... I want them to walk in and chat with us or catch up on life. I hope everyone that walks through the store feels recognized and accepted.
Follow La Ree Boutique for fashion inspirations and looks
Person Behind the Place is part of the Heart of Bellevue: our campaign to showcase local businesses while connecting you with stories of activity, creativity and recovery. Find out about our campaign and explore more of what’s happening around Downtown.
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La Ree Boutique
11 103rd Ave NE
Bellevue, WA 98004