Walk into Simplicity in Mind boutique at 200 S. Olive Avenue in downtown West Palm Beach, and you feel like you’ve stepped into a perfectly pinned post on your favorite Pinterest board. Homemade dreamcatchers hang from the store’s ceiling adorning the small front window, but the point of this look is to focus the attention elsewhere.
Racks of clothes and accessories—mostly Boho-chic pieces from independent designers line the perimeter of the tiny store. There are stacks of Boho essentials like jeans and loose-fitting tops and dresses in floral prints or stripes, and cool but not precious indulgences like silver-arrow and other Aztec influenced designed necklaces, bras in delicate solid fabrics, suede or leather handbags, and soft scented candles in blended colors.
Rachel Calvelli, the store’s twenty-something owner, talked to us about how she struck out on her own, and about her style inspirations and her dream of expanding to the island of Palm Beach someday.
This month is a year that Calvelli opened up Simplicity in Mind in the downtown area. She is a smart woman with a friendly disposition, like a next door neighbor who won’t mind a midnight call just because you ran out of sugar. Venturing in a small business is not easy, but Calvelli doesn’t seem the type of individual that would overthink the realities of the retail business. With multiple roles and hats to wear, she’s learned sales go up and down—that’s just how it goes.
How did you come up with the name for the store? Well, my sister named it, actually. I was struggling with the idea of a name that would capture the concept that I was trying to portray. So, the word “simplicity” popped into my head, and it helped me decide the merchandise I wanted to sell, and the type of customer I was trying to sell to.
You have a unique collection, so what inspires your style? My style is a mixture of BoHo and minimalist. I love the BoHo fit, everything being super loose, flowery and really comfortable, but more minimalist, because I usually don’t pick out loud prints. I find things that are subtle, a little bit of flower prints or stripes.
That’s a very trendy, artsy, and even high fashion style. Who’s your target client? My clientele is a real mix, but I definitely aim for that 24 – 55 age range female customer.
So, I fit right in! [laughing] Yeah, a lot of my customers are forty or fifty-something women who love, love the styles here. They’re the ones who come in and I get to really know them, and style them, which I really love. And then I get a lot of twenty-somethings or college girls, too. Or, the thirty-somethings who are looking for a cool outfit to go out to. It’s a good mixture.
Have you gotten any celebrities or famous personalities come into your store? Not really, but I do get bloggers who come in looking for trendy, out of the beaten path stuff that you can only find in smaller boutiques like mine. I’m always looking for bloggers to work with.
What are your heavy-traffic days? It really depends on what’s going on in our city. For instance, when the GreenMarket is here, it’s super busy in here all the time, which is awesome! So glad that’s back. But a lot of my customers that want to be styled, give me a call or usually come in during the week, either on a Wednesday or Thursday. So, I’d say those are my busiest days, other than Saturday.
And how do you help style those clients? I have some clients who pop in every other week to see what’s new. They just grab a bunch of things and try them on, and they come out and ask for my opinion, like what they should wear that with, what jewelry, how should they style it, that kind of thing. That’s really how I help customers. I do get some people in the store who are looking for something specifically for an event, and that’s when I go around the store and look for something that I think would be appropriate.
How about if you don’t have it in your shop, do you try to fulfill special requests? Oh, yeah, for sure. I have regular customers who will come in and show me pictures of things. And so when I’m buying, I keep an eye on those styles or something that’s similar.
What are your shop’s hottest items? People love the jeans. And I’m kind of surprised, because it’s always so hot here. But these jeans are amazing; they are like leggings, almost.
What’s the brand? Unpublished is a new brand out of Los Angeles. The jeans come in a bunch of different styles, and I am one of the few boutiques in the country that carry them.
That makes Simplicity in Mind quiet unique then. Yes, it does. I’m happy about that.
What sizes do they come in? The sizes go from double zero to sixteen. And they’re super stretchy, which I love.
You have such a great assortment of clothing, as well as accessories, jewelry, handbags, and even candles and skincare products. Where do you get your unique merchandise? I buy it from all over the place. I’m always looking for something new. I like to purchase from small businesses, not big retailers. All my jewelry is actually handmade, as well as my candles and skincare products, and even some of my handbags. They are all great quality, too. The smaller display items like the dream catchers are also handmade; actually, I made them.
So, when do you have time to be the buyer, and not the seller? When merchandise comes out seasonally, I buy then, which happens almost five to six months in advance. The vendors that I work with will send out line sheets, which basically show all the new merchandise for the season and the prices. Once I get all that information from my vendors, I take a day and go through everything, and decide what I want, what looks super cute and may become like a trend, and how I think things are going to sell. And then I also like to place everything cohesively throughout the store, mixing the brands pieces so that all flows nicely, too.
And it does… Thank you!
Is this your first venture in retail? I’ve worked in retail since I was sixteen, but this is the first business I’ve owned. I worked for Bloomingdale’s and Macy’s and helped set up creative shops and visual displays for them. And then, I was a store manager for a store that was like Forever 21, geared to more of a fast fashion and junior customer.
So, what let you to set up shop here in downtown West Palm Beach? I actually grew up in upstate New York and moved to West Palm Beach three years ago. My family used to vacation here a lot because my uncle works on the island of Palm Beach. So, I was very familiar with the area. I was super sick of the snow and so, I came down here and fell in love with the downtown area, and that’s when I decided to set up my business here.
I can see why you like Downtown WPB; it has that New York City vibe. That’s right! I like it here; it’s quiet, but not too quiet. I’m looking to be here for a while, looking to expand to other locations. Last year, I expanded into the Warehouse District in the Grandview area. I have a little shop there as well. It has different merchandise than here, because I feel the clientele is a little different.
More bohemian? Yes, sometimes I move what I have here to there and it works out! And that’s all part of the business, knowing what sells at the right time and place.
Q&A with Rachel Calvelli, owner of Simplicity in Mind, a store featuring simple Boho-Chic Styles from independent designers in downtown West Palm Beach.