Shoppers have been coming in and out of The Closet for three years now – ever since UCSB student Johanna Melamed opened the clothing resale boutique in downtown Santa Barbara.
Melamed, a fourth-year global studies major, said her shop offers an extensive selection of second-hand couture collections, name-brand clothing and vintage accessories. She hopes The Closet – located at 1213 State St., Suite L – fills a void for fans of vintage fashion seeking sophisticated style in Santa Barbara.
Melamed, who opened the business in 2003, said her entrepreneurial spirit, personal style and academic interests have been influenced by her travels around the world. She said these experiences are reflected in the store’s selection and style.
“In my travels to New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles, I wanted to bring back high-end affordable items with an extension of vintage style,” Melamed said.
Melamed said that The Closet’s prices are much less expensive than department stores, and that UCSB students receive a 20 percent discount on all purchases. She said though a wide variety of clothing is available at The Closet, the store’s designer used-jean collection is one of the store’s most popular sections.
“True Religion jeans are the bestsellers; as well as Gucci, Citizens and Catherine Malandrino,” Melamed said. “We’re the only consignment store in Santa Barbara that offers name brands for less, with the option to buy, sell or trade used designer clothes.”
Melamed said managing her roles as both a full-time student and business owner is not easy – the most difficult aspect of juggling the two, she said, is time management. She said she relies on confidence and self-determination, in addition to her past employment experience – she has been working in thrift, vintage and consignment stores since she was 14 – to keep her responsibilities fulfilled. In addition, Melamed said inspiration from her grandmother, a Holocaust survivor, is another important foundation of her ability to stay focused and productive.
“My grandmother has been through a lot of experiences and worked 80 years of her life,” Melamed said. “When everyone said ‘Don’t invest in the business,’ my grandmother said, ‘Yes.'”
After graduating from UCSB, Melamed said she plans to make the business a chain by opening several more Closet boutiques. Melamed said she hopes her business will eventually be successful enough to allow her to devote time to philanthropic work. But for now, Melamed said her priorities are focusing on school and managing the store effectively, which she said is an ongoing team effort.
“Time management, great staff and reliable friends contribute to our success here at The Closet,” Melamed said.