Jessica Lynn at Leokadia in the South End
February 20, 2009
A multi-colored ring of ballet flats sit atop a circular glass table; a brown designer handbag rests in its center. Several brightly lit chandeliers illuminate racks of jeans, belts, boots and umbrellas in Leokadia, a cozy South End high-fashion shoe and accessory boutique.
Northeastern alumna Jessica Lynn, the 27-year-old owner and president of the European-themed store—complete with an antique bench from the Tulleries in Paris and a 150-year-old vitrine housing a vast array of sunglasses—bursts into laughter as she describes her decision to hold a champagne celebration for her customers.
“Who’s going to say ‘no’ to pink champagne on a Saturday?” she says. Her spirited personality reflects her unusual—if not innovatively vibrant—business strategies. “I get the most random ideas.”
The design of her store, the 2003 finance and insurance graduate says, purposely rekindles memories of her summer-long trips to Europe.
“Anything that you see in the Riviera, in London, in Milan, it’s just so beautiful and cultured and ornate,” she says.
Since opening the boutique in April of last year—it is named after her mom, a “shoe fanatic” who has a 1,000 square foot closet filled with footwear and handbags, says Lynn—the Connecticut native has gained substantial fame within fashion and entertainment circles.
She flips through a binder filled with more than 50 press clippings from the past 10 months: the Improper Bostonian featured Lynn in its bachelor and bachelorette issue; she won Daily Candy’s Sweetest Things 2008 for what the lifestyle and culture website calls her “impeccable taste;” and Stuff @ Night wrote about her favorite Boston clubs.
“It’s nice that people care,” she says. “I feel like I have a message to convey to people who haven’t viewed Boston as being that fashionable of a city, but it is.”
With the hope of supplying her customers with “European goods that you can’t find anywhere else,” Lynn often attends trade shows in Milan and Barcelona in search of little-known designers. She counts the custom-made leather Repetto ballet shoe as one of the boutique’s most desired items.
But Lynn has not always been such an ardent shoe fashionista. Just a few years ago, she worked in the financial world at JP Morgan—until she abruptly quit. “I had no job, no prospects, no anything,” she says.
After connecting with several individuals in the public relations and fashion industries, Lynn helped manage another Boston shoe store for three years. Later, she teamed with her dad, who is in the retail business, to open Leokadia.
She hopes to open an additional store over each of the next five years. “I have such an ambition to want to succeed,” she says.