Monday, October 23 , 2017, 10:00 pm | Fair 64º

 
 
 
 

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.

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