Christine Berardi of hip'tique Santa Monica Talks Shop
If I had a sister I would have to insist she have a closet exactly like hip'tique—someplace I could go to pick out just the right sweater and the perfect dress for any occasion—which East Coast transplant Christine Berardi (no connection to designer Antonio) opened in Santa Monica mid-February.
Bright and airy, hip’tique (the H is lower case at all times … ) is filled with an eclectic mix of designers from the worlds of fashion, beauty, and home, including Black Halo, Amanda Uprichard, Obakki, IRO, Habitual, DVF, Tucker, Ulla Johnson, Susana Monaco, and LNA.
The crowd snatching up the stylish selection of goods is just as eclectic as the stock list itself, with everyone from local celebrities and their pups, to an all-ages roster of clients who can find something for everyone on Christine’s upbeat shelves.
What was the design inspiration for the boutique?
I am mildly obsessed with gold. You could make anything gold and it instantly becomes amazing! Since we are one block from the beach, I wanted the boutique to have a sophisticated, fun, beach vibe ... with gold accents and splashes of color! The refinished concrete floor is great for all the dogs that visit us.
What kind of experience do you want the shopper to have?
I want customers to feel completely at home, relaxed … for the customer to want to take the time to look, touch, feel, smell and try on everything that excites her in the store. It's shopping … there's nothing abut it that is supposed to be too serious, so the experience needs to be fun and relaxing.
Do you have celebrity customers? Who would you love to have shop at hip'tique?
We have had celebrity customers but oddly enough I rarely recognize them. I was on the floor playing with a very famous 'Kate's' dog and had no clue who the leash was attached too. Needless to say we treat everyone the same.
Where do you find new designers?
We are always online looking for new designers. People in L.A. are so in the know that I am always looking and talking to customers about what they are loving now.
Have you put any unknowns on the map?
Not yet but I am working on it!
Is the boutique a reflection of your personal style? Who are your go-to designers?
Absolutely! I buy only things I love and would wear. I am obsessed with denim and dresses and, I guess, everything in between. Picking a favorite is impossible, just depends on my mood.
What's your must-have accessory?
An Alexis Hudson clutch and Deity necklace
What prompted you to move hip’tique from the East Coast to Santa Monica?
It honestly just happened, as most things do in my life. I sublet an apartment in Santa Monica for three months after I sold my first boutique. I came here waiting for my house to sell, to hang with friends, and enjoy time off for the first time in my life. When it was time to make a decision [about] what was next I decided to move to Venice and open another hip'tique. I think my personality and style fit much better on the Westside vs. the city. hip'tique in Pittsburgh is still open and has the same name so that causes some confusion. Different store and different styles now with the new owners, but I'm proud of the fact that in this economy, it's still thriving after almost eight years.
Describe the style of your shoppers here in Santa Monica and how do they differ from the East Coast shoppers.
Westside shoppers have such a casual chic to them. When I moved here, I remember thinking I had a closetful of clothes and nothing seemed right for life near the beach. Everyone is walking or riding their bike on a Friday night all the way through Sunday mornings. You always need to have an extra layer because it is typically cold. Anything goes on the Westside, and that's why I love having a boutique here. East Coast shoppers seem more practical.
What flew off the shelves for summer?
Amanda Uprichard bright-colored silk tops and dresses, definitely Habitual jeans, and we have also had a hard time keeping the L*Space bathing suits in stock.
With summer half over, what are some good transitional pieces to buy now?
We just received a gorgeous white-cotton DVF blouse with a touch of wool in the mix. It is the softest, most feminine top with the perfect neckline. I've worn it with cutoffs, high-waisted Habitual jeans and even skirts. I know I will be wearing it all winter.
Which fall trends are you snapping up?
We have Colico boots coming in next month, and I don't know how I am not going to take one of each style home—loving them. Also super-anxious for hand-knitted sweaters by a Vancouver designer called Obakki, and tweed jackets by IRO.
When you were growing up, was fashion always a passion?
I always loved clothes. My mom likes to tell the story of when my closet bar ripped out of the wall when I was in high school. I remember her looking at me and saying, "So now do you think you have enough clothes?" Of course not!
What is your fashion background?
Strictly a love for clothes, fabrics, fits, etc. I worked for Black & Decker/DeWALT for almost 10 years prior to opening my first store. Even though it had nothing to do with fashion, it did give me solid business knowledge. Working with great retailers like Target, Lowe's, Home Depot taught me a lot of practical knowledge that is applicable in this business. And I can do a lot of handy work around the store too—saves me time waiting for someone to come fix or hang something for us!
If you had to compare hip’tique to a song, what song would it be and why?
This would take me months to answer! I love all kinds of music, afraid to say one song if the lyrics didn't make sense. The tempo and fun music from Band of Skulls; "I know What I am" by Citizen Cope; Pete Yorn, Lenny Kravitz, Local Natives, Jack White, Elbow, HoneyChild, Black Keys, and on and on and on!!!
How would you describe hip’tique in one word?
These last two questions are the ones that have stumped me the most. Fun? Happy? Diverse? Vivacious? I have found over the years that hip'tique means something different to everyone who walks in the door, and I want to keep that feeling forever. How would you describe it in one word? I find that answer more interesting since I have been asking everyone who has walked in for the past few days!
hip'tique is located at 2727 Main Street, Santa Monica, CA 90405 | (310) 399-6106