Photo by Katie Turpen.
0714 Lou Lous
Lou Lou’s Store Manager Jessica Zillman and Owner Mary Lou Kunka opened Lou Lou’s, a unique women’s boutique, last fall in the Patton Creek shopping center.
For Lou Lou’s Owner Mary Lou Kunka and Store Manager Jessica Zillman, work is actually closer to play. Walking into their boutique in the Patton Creek shopping center feels like attending a fashion party with several close friends.
The pair is sure to greet you with an enthusiastic hello and offer advice on selections. Lining the walls of the women’s store, customers can find everything from colorful dresses and jewelry to monogrammed purses to wall décor displaying inspirational messages.
Lou Lou’s opened last fall just before the holiday rush. It was then the two realized they had found a unique niche in the local fashion market.
“Let’s just say we were pleasantly surprised at the response,” Kunka said. Zillman added that people were filing in the door wanting to sort through items before they could hang them on the walls.
It is evident why the store has experienced so much success in less than a year. With a background in fashion, Kunka is no stranger to the industry. Her nickname, Lou Lou, inspired the name of the store.
Both Kunka and Zillman state that their goal for Lou Lou’s is to sell reasonably priced, appropriate and fashionable clothing to women of all ages and sizes. Finding the balance of all these factors may be difficult, but they believe it’s worth the extra effort.
“We’ve had mothers come in here with their daughters that say this is the first time they have gone shopping together that someone is not in tears,” Zillman said. “It’s not easy to give everybody what they want, but we work really hard at it.”
Lou Lou’s offers monogramming for a variety of items in their store, and customers are also welcome to bring in their own items to be personalized. One of their specialty items are Ginger Snaps, small charms of all colors and designs that can be snapped into a bracelet band of one’s choosing. Colorful hair elastics handmade by Kunka and Zillman are another popular item.
The store boasts quality but doesn’t want to put a major dent in anyone’s wallet.
“It’s neat because since we are small we only have a few of each of our pieces. So you can worry less about wearing the same thing as someone else in the area,” Zillman said. “And you can walk out of here easily spending less than $50.”
Kunka and Zillman enjoy staying involved with their local community by helping making custom outfits for sports teams and organizations. This month, as everyone heads back to school and looks ahead to football season, Lou Lou’s is ready. From dresses to wear to football games, to Alabama and Auburn gear, to monogrammed shirts, there is something for everyone. The women also plan to add a special customization table in the back of the store to ensure each customer receives individualized attention.
The two enjoy seeing return customers, especially those who stop by several times a week. For them, Lou Lou’s is all about feeling comfortable and happy.
“We like to laugh and cut up a lot,” Zillman said. “We want people to come in here and feel like they can be themselves.”