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Meet Kate Croley of Bronson Boutique in Hollywood

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kate Croley.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
Opening the store was definitely a long journey. I first moved to L.A. by myself from Ohio at the age of 16. After having graduated high school early, I went to college out here as a History major. I worked about every job you can imagine, from Queen Mary docent to being a movie extra, and lived all over the city throughout the years. One of my jobs was in retail at a store in my then-new neighborhood of Franklin Village, called Native. I fell in love with the entire experience; the store provided a huge sense of community as I began to know all the regulars. I loved helping my neighbors get dressed up and feeling their best. There’s something hugely personal and fun about shopping with someone, maybe it’s because I make them listen to Spice Girls and Britney.

When Native moved seven years ago, I tried to get the space it occupied for my own store. The landlord told me I was too young and wouldn’t give me the time of day. I then became a nanny to Madeline, the most fulfilling job of my life, while simultaneously continuing in retail at motorcycle store TriCo (naturally). Right around when I turned 30, a space opened up in Franklin Village, the only place I ever considered for my store. This space had a different landlord than Native so I lucked out that they’d given me a chance. Honestly, I loved working with Madeline so much that I almost couldn’t do it. Her mom Kristan helped me so much with the store, as a production designer she gave me tons of prop pieces that became most of my store’s furniture. I even have a little playroom so Madeline can still come hang after school, and customer’s children seem to love it as well. I carry women’s and children’s apparel, accessories, and gifts- even some chopper related…all inspired by different points of this L.A. journey for sure! This experience was all 15 years in the making, lots of patience and good luck!

Has it been a smooth road?
It has been bumpy, especially the first year of being open. There are always foot traffic issues with the location I ended up getting, which is in a strip mall off the main street, so people need to specifically come to it and don’t necessarily stumble upon it like the shops on Franklin. There are definitely super slow days which is the scariest feeling! I often have people tell me they never knew the shop was there and are regulars of the area, so visibility is a big issue. Everything is all on my shoulders, so if something goes wrong, I know who to blame.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Bronson Boutique – tell our readers more, for example, what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
Bronson Boutique is an all-vegan boutique, meaning we don’t carry anything made with animal products (leather, suede, wool, etc.). All of our clothing, candles, makeup, purses, and so forth are cruelty-free. This was super important to me from day one but not something I initially thought to advertise. It was repeatedly suggested by customers that I should be known as all-vegan, so local artist Danny Minnick brought in some paint one day and wrote in huge letters on my window my favorite pun, “All Vegan, Faux Real.” It really changed the amount of traffic to the store. As well as being all vegan, I try to carry predominately female-run small brands. One of my favorites is Evil Queen candles, a local lady who started her own line with fun candles like Can’t Adult Today that smells like fruit loops. Since I run the store on my own, I love supporting other female-run independent businesses and am proud to bring as much girl power as I can while also not bringing any harm to animals.

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
My favorite thing about L.A. is the spirit. There is a lot of hope involved in living in L.A. People move here wanting more, and here you can get it. There’s something exciting about L.A. even after 15 years here, it’s always interesting. L.A. has an eclectic culture- artists, writers, creatives around every corner. Each neighborhood is so unique and has its own quirks, finding your neighborhood is essential to loving L.A. The thing I like least is probably all the new development when there are so many problems with homelessness. It’s bizarre that the city keeps approving low-income housing to be torn down so that overpriced high rises can go in, with limited low-income housing available in those.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
All images by Kate Croley

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