Thursday, January 18 , 2018, 11:05 pm | Fair 56º


Judy Foreman: Jennie Stierwalt Reiter Leads Way for Next Generation of Retail Entepreneurs

Blanka boutique bursts onto Coast Village Road scene with inspired style choices and latest fashion trends

Jennie Stierwalt Reiter shows off her spring line before the grand opening of her new boutique, Blanka, at 1266 Coast Village Road in Montecito. “A retail location embodies all my talents — styling, curating, merchandising, buying and selling,” she says. “It really does allow me to express all my gifts.” Click to view larger
Jennie Stierwalt Reiter shows off her spring line before the grand opening of her new boutique, Blanka, at 1266 Coast Village Road in Montecito. “A retail location embodies all my talents — styling, curating, merchandising, buying and selling,” she says. “It really does allow me to express all my gifts.” (Jess Weber photo)

[Click here for a related Noozhawk photo gallery.]

Coast Village Road was as bustling as ever on a recent Friday evening, but there was an extra energy emanating from the grand opening of Blanka, a new women’s boutique near Montecito stalwart Los Arroyos.

The store at 1266 Coast Village Road was packed with stylish women — and men — who were enjoying complimentary wine, champagne, margaritas, hors d’oeuvres and valet parking.

It was a young, beautiful and animated crowd, and the atmosphere seemed more like Fashion Week in Manhattan, Milan or Paris than sleepy Santa Barbara. In fact, the party went well past the 9 p.m. cutoff.

Jennie Stierwalt Reiter and her husband, Eric Reiter, are the couple behind Blanka.

While I know Eric’s parents, Brenda and Garland Reiter, and their three sons, who are close in age to my own three children, Jennie is a fresh face. Still, she has a growing reputation in Santa Barbara fashion circles for her work with a wide range of clients, as a stylist specializing in wardrobe edits, personal shopping and photo shoots.

With impeccable credentials accompanied by a strong background in buying and merchandising for many local boutiques, Jennie is also beautiful, energetic, smart, stylish and focused.

On opening night she was excited and exhausted but beaming.

“It is such a pleasure to be a part of the 93018 community in a physical way,” she told Noozhawk. “I had been working as a personal stylist and shopper for private clients for the last two years, but now I have a space where they can come and visit me and see the things I am loving.”

Jennie said the chance to open a boutique in her husband’s hometown was part of the appeal.

“It is such a grounding experience and fulfilling experience,” she said. “I have loved this community … since I met him. It finally feels like I have my own roots here.”

It is well known that, in addition to my 16-year freelance writing career, I’m also the owner of the small Coast Village Road shopping complex that Blanka now calls home.

When filling commercial vacancies, I try to find compatible tenants who can boost each other’s businesses and provide a great lifestyle experience for the neighborhood — and myself.

After an unexpected vacancy in early December, I met Jennie and Eric at the space with Radius Group Commercial Real Estate brokers Steve Brown and Chris Parker. The couple had been looking for a location for months.

In a subsequent meeting, Jennie arrived with mood boards of what her boutique would look like. The decision at this point was to marry both of her passions — which include styling women and merchandising — into her own shop.

“A retail location embodies all my talents — styling, curating, merchandising, buying and selling,” she said.

“It really does allow me to express all my gifts, and my hope is that people will … experience the store and walk away feeling more beautiful and uplifted than when they first walked in.”

The Blanka name was inspired by the owners’ love of wearing white.

“Almost any outfit can get paired back to the perfect” white tee, Jennie said. “The white top is powerful in any woman’s wardrobe.”

To bring to life Jennie’s vision of clean lines, white walls, brass finishes, and trendy décor to complement her merchandise, the couple revamped the 1,000-square-foot store.

They first removed a wall blocking the front window and added polished contemporary concrete floors, a sophisticated black awning, outdoor furniture, plants, an updated office and restroom, and built-ins by furniture artists Albert Apodaca and Michael McCrary.

Blanka is now a neighbor of Leggiadro, a high-end women’s clothing store; Red Hair Studio & Day Spa; and Los Arroyos Mexican Restaurant.

In the short time it’s been open, Blanka already has become a wonderful new resource for contemporary clothing; accessories such as jewelry, shoes, handbags, belts and hats; and organic spa and skin products.

More than just offering an interesting mix of merchandise, along with the clothes comes the additional gift of its talented owner, who can put you together in a New York minute with imagination, panache, fun and the unexpected!

Blanka, 1266 Coast Village Road, is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, with happy hours from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, when customers can get a 10 percent discount and a beverage. 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.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click here to get started >

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >

Meet Your Realtor Sponsored by Village Properties

Elizabeth Wagner
"I consider myself to be an up front and honest agent and willing to talk my clients out of purchasing a property that isn’t right for them or won’t meet their needs in a year or two."

Full Profile >