Rebekah Risbeck is the owner of the new downtown women’s boutique, MintL.A., which launched over a month ago via rooftop party at the AP Lofts. After winning AP Lofts’ live-work competition, Risbeck, 26, moved here from Los Angeles to bring her fashion market expertise to Des Moines’ sartorial customers.
MintL.A. carries the latest trends as well as basic pieces at prices only someone who is well-connected in the fashion market could find. Pieces range from $10 to $75, with summer rompers priced around $25.
Risbeck offers valuable insight and advice about working in the global fashion industry in this exclusive interview.
What was your experience like working in LA’s fashion industry?
I’ve been fortunate to work for both small startups and large corporations. I held roles from Director of Product Development to Senior Buyer and Stylist. They are complete opposite roles. In Product Development I would take a designers’ idea and create a tangible object. Everything from sourcing materials to working with patternmakers and factories. It allowed me to travel from NYC to China and was very exciting. As a buyer I had to stay abreast of trends and predict what direction the market was going. You have to take calculated risks but the fun part was going to tradeshows in Las Vegas and NYC, and going to Market in LA.
What gets you excited about your day and going to work?
I love where I’m at right now in my career. I love handpicking clothes that will make a customer happy. I love meeting new customers and helping them pick out an outfit. I’ve dressed customers from first dates, weddings, last minute trips to Las Vegas, and a first job interview. I’m already working with a customer on picking out jewelry for her wedding dress, which I will custom order for her. I communicate with my vendors daily in Los Angeles. It’s challenging that I’m not seeing them in the showrooms daily anymore-but I’ve maintained good relationships with them so they work with me. I order new styles daily and fight for the best price for my customers. It’s a rewarding feeling at the end of the day!
What has been the hardest thing you went through working in the industry?
Definitely the unstable conditions. There were a lot of highs and lows working 9 years in the fashion industry. You have to stay on your toes at all times and make sure you are performing 100% to the company’s expectations or you will be replaced. The hardest was getting through the recession- 2 startup companies I worked for during this time went out of business overnight. We were all devastated-I had helped build these companies side by side with the owners and a handful of other employees. One week we are working 60+ hours on a project for fashion week-the next day the company is out of business. A lot of highs and lows!
Any advice on how to get through that or avoid it?
It depends on where you are in your career. If you are still in college I would highly recommend picking an industry/company you are passionate about and getting an internship with them; you can grow with a company like that. Another is to just keep everything in perspective. I kept plugging away and trying to maintain my values and morals by looking at the “big picture.” The achievements and failures in your career do not determine who you are as a person at the end of the day.
What do you hope to accomplish in the next ten years in fashion or career in general?
I would love to be a voice in the Des Moines fashion community and find other people with similar visions. I feel there are so many amazing growth opportunities yet to be discovered, primarily within the fashion, art, and music realm. I would like to work with other artists, designers, musicians, and help grow this community. I would also like to grow my store and offer employment opportunities. It would be great to be able to offer interested candidates the opportunity to go on buying trips or tradeshows.
What stores or designers would you compare your clothing to?
I’m a mix of www.topshop.com, www.lulus.com, and www.lfstores.com. I merch the store from fashion-forward items to wardrobe staples such as LBDs [little black dresses], blazers, blouses, jeans, etc. I even carry yoga attire and basic tees for lazy days.
Any plans to add menswear?
Surprisingly I’m getting a lot of requests by the guys that live downtown! I wouldn’t say “plans” to carry menswear but should there continue to be a demand I could absolutely add that!
Any words of wisdom for girls wanting to start their own boutique or get into the industry?
Follow your dreams and don’t take “no” for an answer. If you fall, get back up and keep fighting. Start from the bottom and work your way to the top-don’t ever expect anything to be handed to you. You have to go after it and then work hard.
About Rebekah Risbeck:
Hailing from West Des Moines, Rebekah followed her dreams to attend school at the prestigious FIDM (Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising). Upon graduating, Rebekah climbed the fashion ladder holding titles from Director of Product Development, Senior Buyer and Stylist, and Designer. Upon moving back to Des Moines to launch her boutique, Rebekah was the Event Coordinator at FIDM in downtown Los Angeles.
MintL.A. is located at 340 S.W. Fifth St. a block south of the Science Center. Visit their Facebook page.
Business hours are Monday 11-3pm Tues-Sat 11-7pm.