As per my post about Mi Shoes, I love to shop and anything to do with fashion. So it’s no surprise that I love having someone on our Board of Directors who owns a clothing store! Heather Baker owns Lulu–Wonderful Things, a women’s clothing store on Holly Street. Lulu is celebrating their tenth anniversary all month long, with their big anniversary celebration October 21-31st. At such a perfect time, I want to introduce you to the woman behind Lulu to learn about the history of the store, her love of downtown, and why she is involved with our board.
You’re not originally from Bellingham. What brought you up here?
I was born in Spokane and lived in the San Juan Islands in the late 70’s so I was familiar with the area. Growing up in the Bay area, I decided to move north as an adult and chose Washington because my sister and mother had moved back here. I loved being closer to the outdoors and when I came to Bellingham the first time to visit family I fell in love and knew I had to end up here.
What got you into the retail industry?
My mother has owned stores since I was 5 years old. Her first store was The Strawberry Patch in Friday Harbor. She then opened a number of children’s and women’s clothing stores in the Bay Area. I have fond memories of growing up in the stores helping out and going on buying trips. Despite my fond memories, when I became an adult I turned towards college and teaching children with Autism. It wasn’t until my mother retired 3 years ago that she was able to persuade me into taking over the store. I was hesitant to say the least, as I knew what I was getting into. I love the store and my customers. I am thrilled I listened to her!
Why did your mother decide to open your store downtown?
My mother opened the store over 10 years ago, with its original location on Cornwall Street. LuLu is her 9th retail store and the result of over 40 years of experience. My mother had lived in Bellingham for 10 years before opening the store downtown and had a wholesale craft business during that time. When she sold the business she just couldn’t help herself and had to open another store.
Where’s your favorite place to go to downtown?
Hands down…Ciao Thyme! Great food, great people, great ambiance!
What’s your favorite part about working downtown?
My customers and the feeling of community.
You’re also on the DBP board. What’s your favorite part about being involved with the Partnership?
I have been involved in non-profits for 20 years. I have a strong belief in giving back to the community you live in. I also have a vested interest in helping the downtown to be the best downtown it can be!
Where do you get your inspiration for your store?
That’s easy…from my amazing customers! I listen to them every day and take that to market. I am buying for them, not for me. This is one of the most important thing to remember when you are in retail.
Who is your favorite designer?
This is why I love Bellingham, we are not about designers and neither is LuLu. I love that we represent lines that feature mostly made in America clothing that is stylish, timeless and comfortable. People often ask me what is “in style” and I always respond the same way, “A confident woman is the most stylish woman. Buy clothing that fits perfectly, colors that compliment you and that you feel great in!”
You’re celebrating your 10 year anniversary this month. What are some highlights from the first 10 years?
I would say the transition passing the store from my mother to myself. I have kept many of the same lines, but added some fresh new clothing and accessories to appeal to a broader range of customers. I also added many customer service oriented programs. My customer’s experience at LuLu is my highest priority.
Do you have anything planned for the future of Lulu?
Always improving! Every year I strive to improve everything from how and what I buy to the experience my customer is having in the store. I feel like the store is in a constant evolution process and I don’t see that ever ending.
Make sure to visit Lulu the next time you’re downtown at 124 W. Holly Street, or visit them online at http://www.shopatlulu.com.