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Judy Foreman: One Year In, Jennie Reiter Sees an Even Brighter Future for Blanka

With expansion plans underway and on the horizon, Montecito women’s boutique plans Feb. 24 anniversary party to celebrate with customers and community

Jennie Reiter, left, opened her Blanka women’s boutique last winter, and the store has become a popular — and comfortable — destination for her customers. “We feel so blessed to be part of this amazing community in Montecito,” she says. “As Coast Village Road continues to grow, evolve and expand, we could not be more excited to sink our roots down deeper as we launch our second year.” Click to view larger
Jennie Reiter, left, opened her Blanka women’s boutique last winter, and the store has become a popular — and comfortable — destination for her customers. “We feel so blessed to be part of this amazing community in Montecito,” she says. “As Coast Village Road continues to grow, evolve and expand, we could not be more excited to sink our roots down deeper as we launch our second year.” (Jessica Dalene Weber photo)

A year ago, Jennie Reiter opened Blanka on Coast Village Road in Montecito. The women’s clothing boutique has been a hit with customers, and the experience has given the budding entrepreneur new ideas to pursue.

Between planning for a mega one-year anniversary party on Feb. 24 and working on the May launch of a new online store, the 30-year-old dynamo squeezed in time for a conversation between friends.

As a business owner myself on Montecito’s retail row, and responsible for leasing the store at 1266 Coast Village Road to Reiter and her husband, Eric, I wanted to hear her take on her first year in business.

“We feel so blessed to be part of this amazing community in Montecito,” she told Noozhawk.

“As Coast Village Road continues to grow, evolve and expand, we could not be more excited to sink our roots down deeper as we launch our second year. It’s been very encouraging, motivating and exciting to see the new stores and restaurants pop up.”

Reiter says she senses that locals are beginning to view Coast Village Road as the “hometown shopping experience that State Street used to be.”

“Many of the stores are owned by local residents, many of whom are younger first-time entrepreneurs like myself,” she explained.

She said she enjoys walking around the neighborhood, grabbing coffee at Jeannine’s Restaurant & Bakery, surprising her husband with a gift from Whiskey & Leather or K. Frank, stopping in at the locally owned Liquor & Wine Grotto for a bottle of wine, and then popping into Allora by Laura for something fun for herself.

“It’s nice to shop somewhere else besides my own store,” Reiter said. “It’s all right here — a true destination.

“And I don’t have to drive my car to get there!”

Reiter welcomes the new stores — and the competition for her boutique, which specializes in contemporary woman’s ready-to-wear clothing and accessories. Many of the other merchants are her personal friends, and she believes there’s plenty of business to go around.

“It’s even better to be part of a destination that is actually worth coming to since we all provide a different and unique aesthetic in our community,” she said.

Jennie Reiter is a champion of the Coast Village Road retail atmosphere, and says she senses locals are beginning to think of it as the “hometown shopping experience that State Street used to be.” Click to view larger
Jennie Reiter is a champion of the Coast Village Road retail atmosphere, and says she senses locals are beginning to think of it as the “hometown shopping experience that State Street used to be.” (Jessica Dalene Weber photo)

In fact, Reiter is so bullish on the area that she confidently predicts Coast Village Road will be the next big shopping and dining destination in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.

“My philosophy is if its not evolving, it’s growing stale,” said Reiter, who acknowledged that Blanka has refined itself over the last 12 months.

“It’s part of the learning curve to get dialed in to what people like, but also to introduce the customer to what is trending right now, not just in Santa Barbara but also in the larger fashion community,” she said.

“We carry a range of price points and sizes. We serve a variety of age demographics and want everyone to feel comfortable shopping and enjoying the Blanka experience.”

As part of her own evolution, Reiter recently opened a second store, called Blankita, in Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone. The store is part of The Guilded Table, a shared artist collective at the Waterline at 120 Santa Barbara St., which also houses Nook restaurant, Blair Fox Cellars, Lama Dog Tap Room & Bottle Shop and Topa Topa Brewing Co.

“Our stores have become a comfortable place for people to shop and hang out,” she said.

And speaking of hanging out, to mark her milestone anniversary, Reiter and Blanka will host an open house party from 6 to 9 p.m. Feb. 24 at the shop. The festivities will include pizza and champagne from Honor Market, wines from Sonja Magdevski’s Casa Dumetz in Los Alamos, a complimentary Airstream photo booth, and dancing on the patio to music queued by local DJ Ryan Peitzke.

The party theme is Dress in Your Blanka Best! All guests sporting Blanka apparel and accessories purchased in the store’s first year will be entered in a drawing for various Blanka items and gift cards. Anyone spending $200 or more also will be entered in the giveaway.

Reiter said that 10 percent of sales from the event will be donated to Dress for Success, a Santa Barbara nonprofit organization that assists women in getting jobs and looking and feeling their best. She said it was an easy choice.

Jennie Reiter, left, celebrates Blanka’s one-year anniversary with the author. Click to view larger
Jennie Reiter, left, celebrates Blanka’s one-year anniversary with the author. (Jessica Dalene Weber photo)

“The mission and heart of Blanka,” she said, “was always to assist women in seeing their true beauty, inside and out, and growing in their ability to look in the mirror and love what they see looking back at them!”

Looking ahead to Year Two, Reiter said Blanka will be launching a new online store in May. She also hopes to provide her customers with more personal styling and shopping services.

Having started her career as a personal stylist, Reiter said she understands how important it is for women to get personal closet help and styling assistance — at home or in the marketplace.

“Getting back into people’s wardrobes, getting into the nitty gritty of what’s working for them and not working — from style, color and silhouette, to fabrics and textures — is the creative juice I love,” she said.

Blanka Boutique is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily at 1266 Coast Village Road. Click here for more information, or call 805.869.1811.

— Judy Foreman is a Noozhawk columnist and longtime local writer and lifestyles observer. She can be contacted at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.

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