Meet Le Point
I first came across Le Point while scrolling through my Instagram. A lovely rack of white, pink, blue, and yellow clothing illuminated with natural sunlight caught my eye, and I knew I needed to check this space out! Located on 14th and Valencia in the Mission, Le Point is a relaxing, open space full of sartorial treasures. From Tibi's yellow silk runway showstopper to funky prints from Opening Ceremony, store owner Pauline carries the coolest styles from today's most exciting brands.
While I would highly suggest visiting in person if you're in the area, Pauline just launched her online shop yesterday! I stopped by to chat with her about the launch as well as her overall experiences as a stylist, business owner, and (somewhat) new mother.
Even though the store isn't very large, it feels open and full of things to explore.
The aforementioned blue, white, pink, and yellow clothing assortment.
When did you start the store and what made you realize it was what you wanted to do?
"We opened two years ago almost exactly, in April. And we're launching our online store on Thursday! I’d been a stylist, I still do style a little bit, for about 9 years before I opened the shop. It just seemed like San Francisco was in a right place to have a store that was a little different so that I could bring in some different brands - things that weren’t here already. I wanted it to have a little bit of a different perspective from the other stores in the neighborhood."
Have you always been in San Francisco?
"I haven’t! I moved here from New York in 2008, and I was in New York from 2000-2008, so 8 years."
You mentioned the store having a unique style – what was the aesthetic vision?
"A lot of it was just stuff that I wanted to bring in. I think our aesthetic is something that is trendy and fashion forward but always pairing it with something that’s a bit easier to wear. Fashion should be fun and enjoyable, and sometimes I feel that stores are super serious. So I think we fall somewhere in between. I wanted to have the fashion aspect – you know, we have that Tibi dress that was like a runway showstopper, but then we also have a lot of stuff that’s a lot easier to wear. We have things that are of the moment but bring them to people in a real way."
How do you discover new brands to bring into the store?
"There's certain brands that when we opened I knew I wanted to carry. I love Creatures of Comfort; I’ve always been to their stores in New York and LA and they didn't have any stockists here. So certain brands like that I always knew I wanted. Then I’ll come across brands on Instagram randomly. For example, we carry those Darner socks, they’re the best socks ever. They’re these little mesh, sheer ankle socks, and they always sell out for us. I found then on Instagram and now they’re being stocked at like Opening Ceremony and all these bigger store! A lot of people will email and approach me, especially close to market, and I wish I could say yes to everybody but sometimes it’s just not the right fit. Other times I would love to carry them but we just don’t have the money or the space, so I have to pick and choose sometimes."
Beauty items such as bright red-orange nail polish from RGB Cosmetics sit alongside delicate jewelry on top of this angular wooden table in the center of the store.
When did the idea to launch online come about?
"The plan was always to go online within a year or two. I found out I was pregnant a week before I opened the shop, so that definitely slowed down going online. Most of the styling work I did here was for ecommerce stuff. I worked with Levi’s, Gap, Banana Republic and others, and I saw all the work that goes into getting those 4 images of a jacket on the website. I sometimes wish I didn’t know as much and I was like “oh lets just throw this on somebody and we’ll shoot it by the window” and just kinda go at it. It was a big hesitation knowing how much would go into it.
Now my son is almost a year and a half, and it seemed like the right time to do it. Brick and Mortar shops are struggling – people want to shop online. We even get requests from customers who live in the city but live across town who would rather order online than come in. So it just seems like the natural evolution of the business. I hope that people do still come in because nothing can replace seeing the item in person, trying it on, and touching the fabric! But if we could get a couple more customers and get the word out by being online, then that would be great for us."
You mentioned that you found out you were pregnant right before opening the store! What was that experience like? Is it easier being your own boss and making your own schedule?
"I brought my son in the store when he was little – when he didn’t move. He would just sleep in his stroller no matter what, even with people screaming I could just sit him in the fitting room. Even if he wasn't sleeping, I could just sit him on the carpet with some toys and he would be good. Now that he walks and runs, well. You know, he’s a boy. He's a little wild man. He just comes in here and knocks everything over. He does like to dust though – so I put him to work.
You figure it out. You just do it. It’s nice to have a somewhat flexible schedule, so if something does happen I can usually find someone else to come in. But you just make it work. I do get to spend more time with him since I don't work 9-5 Monday through Friday. I take a couple days off, then I work a few days, so it's nice getting to have that extra time."
Pauline does an impecible job of merchandising and knows exactly which items to put next to each other.
Are there any items you really love right now?
"I love all the Creatures of Comfort stuff – those black polka dots and red gingham. I never used to like red, I think because I had pink here. Now I really like pink and red together (she’s wearing pink and red right now). It’s hard picking favorites. You get so excited about stuff when it comes in, especially since you order so advance. I get a package and it's like ~~ooooh what is it??~~"
The store also has a few cute home decor items such as pillows, ceramics, and vases.
Finally, what’s the best and worst part about owning a business?
"Well, there’s the exciting part about it. I love doing the buying, merchandising, and being here in the store talking to the customers. But I hate the actual business part of it. I hate the numbers and the accounting, and I hate being held back by those things. I wish we did tons and tons of sales and we could bring in a million different designers, but we don’t. So that stuff does kind of bum you out. Even with launching the website, there’s all these things I want to do but we don’t have the time, money, or manpower. Your dreams and your expectations are here (holding her hands high) but reality is here (holding her hands low). However, it’s great to have my own schedule, spend more time with my son, and get to do what I love!"
Pauline sits at the front of the store to greet customers.
Thanks so much to Pauline for letting me come by to chat! Don't forget to check out the brand new online shop (free shipping on orders over $250!) or visit in person at 301 Valencia Street. You can also follow along on Instagram, Pinterest, or like the store on Facebook. If you like small stores, don't forget to like my page on Facebook for updates!