Fashionista Takes Her Style on the Road With Boutique in a Truck
WILLIAMSBURG — Iran Ortiz couldn't decide where in the city she wanted to open a clothing store — so she launched a shop on wheels instead.
Le Suite Boutique, the 18-foot-long, bright purple fashion truck Ortiz and business partner Mareana Rosario Torres created has popped up on corners from Inwood to SoHo since it started rolling in May — and it ventured to Williamsburg for the first time over the weekend.
"Rents were high all over the city, which made it even harder to pick a place," said Ortiz, 30, who lives near Bedford Park in the Bronx. “I was relieved when we found the truck because it meant having our own store was now possible."
The two entrepreneurs looked for a truck on Craigslist for more than five months before finding one that was in good shape. They opted to have it painted the shade “Radiant Orchid” because it was the 2014 fashion Color of the Year, according to Pantone, a color consultant company for the retail and fashion industries.
The truck goes out three to four days a week packed with women's clothes from a dozen carefully selected Los Angeles and New York brands.
Items include $25 pouches from Married to the Mob, $36 Private Party sweatshirts and $30 skirts from BLBD. Most items range in price from $25 and $120, although the store also sells $250 Super sunglasses and $15 bracelets from Endless Noise, a brand Ortiz created after graduating from Marymount College, where she studied fashion merchandising.
“There are other fashion trucks in the city, but we’re the only one selling that type of clothes,” said Rosario Torres, 35, who lives in Rockland County. She and Ortiz went to The Agenda Show in Las Vegas in February to choose the brands they would carry.
It took the two women about a year to launch their truck, which they’ve arranged to make clients feel like they’re entering a walk-in closet. The inside of the mobile boutique is painted black and dimly lit, and it features a small changing room.
“It’s a trial-and-error process," said Rosario Torres. "The first time we drove it, all the shelves fell down.”
Le Suite Boutique's early customers said they're happy to discover a clothing store that comes to them.
“I’ve seen food trucks and beverage trucks, but this is the first time I see a fashion truck,” said Rachelle Shapiro, a 27-year-old physician's assistant from the Upper West Side who visited the mobile shop in Chelsea last week.
“I think it’s a great idea because it’s a way of reaching many different people."
After parking in a dozen Manhattan locations over the past two months, Sunday was the truck's first time in Brooklyn, setting up at Bedford Avenue and North 5th Street. Ortiz hopes to eventually bring the truck to the Bronx, but said she wants to build a reputation in Manhattan and Brooklyn first.
“We just pick a neighborhood we’d like to explore the night before, and then we’re like, 'Go!'” Ortiz said.
Ortiz and Rosario Torres met a couple of years ago while bartending at Dyckman Bar in Washington Heights. Eventually, the two entrepreneurs hope to launch fashion trucks for men and children, too.
For now, though, both are still bartending part-time in the South Bronx, said Ortiz, who sometimes works 17 hours a day to keep up with her two jobs.
“This is my dream come true," Ortiz said, "so I’ll do whatever it takes to make it work."