By Vitjitua Ndjiharine
Tucked away in a quiet street in Dumbo, Brooklyn is a cluster of eclectic vintage clothing stores. Standing out among these assortments of stores is a quaint little boutique whose contents spill out into a narrow corridor, with attached “for sale” signs that attract customers. This store is a tiny boutique that could be thought of as a closet: Miritika’s Boudoir.
The owner, Miritika Bercho, a petit woman in her early forties sporting short jet-black hair, sits patiently behind a counter topped with jewelry, sunglasses, hair accessories and miscellaneous vintage fashion items that are on sale. She is waiting for customers to enter her store. Wearing high-waist black pants paired with black knee-high boots and a simple white tank top Miritika is the picture of success: sitting in her own store surrounded by things that are essentially, the embodiment of her dreams.
Literally translated Miritika’s Boudoir means Miritika’s private room or closet. But as Miritika herself will say, “think of it as your closet. That’s the atmosphere I wanted for this space. This literarily is like my closet at home.” It was therefore, (literarily), in her closet, where Miritika, opened up for an interview.
She is of Israeli and Algerian descent and emigrated from Israel to the United States with her husband 11 years ago. The marriage did not last, but out of it came her two children (8 and 10 years old), and Baco Café, a restaurant business, also located in Dumbo, she owned with her ex-husband.
The boudoir opened 3 years ago. A business she says was a childhood dream, she “risked everything” to launch it. Everything in the boudoir, ranging from vintage couture gowns, jewelry, vintage inspired hats and accessories, handbags and shoes, is either handcrafted, designed and sewn by her or was discovered in a random yard sale or flee market and revamped for the store. “I’m a collector. You will find me in markets. You will find me sometimes dealing with old ladies, trying to buy old things that are out of style to renew them.” She says with pride, “I like to look for things that inspire me. I like to find things. And its always things that you will never think you can find anywhere. And I like to convert them.” she says with pride.
“What I’m doing…it’s my way of life.” Her clothes and designs cannot be separated from the person she is on the inside. Her life would not exist without her clothes and of course her clothes would not exist without her life. She loves color and she loves candles. “If you see me sit down and eat, it always has to be by candlelight.” She talks about her design aesthetic as a representative of her character: a “free woman mind and soul.” She is bohemian spirit and that’s the spirit that is infused in all her designs. Very intense stuff! Everything in her boudoir means something to her. She not only sells bohemian vintage inspired clothes, she also sells you the lifestyle.
But ultimately selling clothes is more important for business. And so of course there’s something more behind that carefree demeanor. Underneath the spiritual masquerade that the bohemian lifestyle imposes, is a woman who knows what she has to do take care of her two children: sew her way to the top. And to do this she has constantly remind herself who her customer is and what her customer needs from her. And so she designs one of a kind fun, flirty, feminine, fearless and daring pieces of clothing (low cut open back, deep plunging necklines and sheer pieces of clothing make up her soon to be released Spring/Summer collection), pieces of clothing that keeps her customers coming back for more.
“She has a good eye for everything.” Brittney Levine, a fashion expert and senior account executive at Wunderlich Inc. a fashion, beauty and lifestyle PR Company, is one of many customers who keep coming back to Miritika’s Boudoir. “Her dresses are beautiful.” Levine, who has appeared on ABC, CBS, NBC and Good Day New York as a style expert, occasionally wears Miritika’s designs to events.
The sparkling jewelry, the handbags and shoes that are hung on the walls easily amuse many customers who walk through her store. Many people who come to the store once always come back. And returning customers is always a sign that business is doing well. People discovering her store by chance is one way she builds her clientele. Another way is by word of mouth. People who like her shop usually tell others.
“I don’t have a doubt that I can do very well. Become famous even. The only problem is location. It is very difficult to get people from the city to come to Brooklyn.” Just like prime real estate the fashion industry is all about location location location! This has been her biggest challenge. Dumbo, Brooklyn, is still a relatively new neighborhood to many people. Most people who fit Miritika’s clientele are Manhattanites who shop in the Lower East Side.
But all she can do for now is keep her business going. And she’s doing that with a new lingerie line and finishing her Spring/Summer 2011 collection. She holds up a black halter neck crop made from faux fur and gold chains while she explains what she wants to do next with her brand, “right now it’s the edgy, the punk, the 80’s style. But for me its not the 80’s its bohemian style and right now I want to take this edgy style to the sexy side.”