From a space in a corner to cornering the market, she takes retail by the tail.
Owner of Kiki in River Ranch, Kiki Frayard isn’t just a savvy retail businesswoman. Her knowledge and sense of fashion rival her business sense, and combined the two traits have made for a successful second career. Frayard’s background in advertising isn’t a bad thing to have in the mix either, nor is her partnership with her daughter, Katie.
Frayard started out in the local world of advertising with The Graham Group. She had her own agency at one point and worked her way up to creative director with Graham. She says retail was her favorite type of account, so when friend and shop owner Molly Finnegan of Molli in the Oil Center mentioned she had some extra space in her store, Frayard decided to take her interest in retail a bit further.
Frayard didn’t quit her day job at first, but began to fill her space with carefully chosen handbags and jewelry. She and her daughter had plans to open their own store in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina hit, so the project got relocated to Lafayette.
“The timing was perfect,” Frayard says. “River Ranch’s commercial development was just beginning. Bonefish Grill was here, and I was the next store to actually open, right on the heels of Ann Taylor Loft and JoS. A. Bank. I knew that this was where the growth was, definitely by far the place to be, and my instincts were right.”
Nov. 1 will mark five years in business for Frayard, and she’s come a long way since her corner at Molli. A year after opening in River Ranch, her shop expanded to Baton Rouge, and next year will bring a large expansion to the Lafayette store. “I’m going to take over another 2,400 square feet next door and expand the mix of products,” she says.
Kiki has created a niche in Lafayette for designers like Marc Jacobs and Tom Ford, and Frayard definitely seems to know what women want. Whether it’s the latest designer handbag, pair of sunglasses, Bond No. 9 perfume or special piece of jewelry, Frayard aims to create a shopping experience rivaling that of New York.
Frayard’s advertising background is evident in the business’s branding, from the pink logo to the business cards, shopping bags and forthcoming iPhone app. “I really wanted people to come in and know they were in Kiki. I wanted people to feel like they were not just in another accessory or women’s store,” she says.
Kiki is the No. 2 specialty store in the United States selling Marc Jacobs handbags and in the top five in the country for sales of Bond No. 9 perfume. Relationships with vendors are just as important as those with customers, says Frayard, and exclusive deals with designers have helped her shop elevate its specialty status.
An elegant blonde, Frayard’s personal style philosophy goes hand in hand with her business one. “Unless you back over it in your car, a handbag that you buy here should last you, well, forever. I have handbags that I’ve had for 20 years and the same thing with the jewelry,” she says.
Frayard measures her success not in terms of dollars, but in wanting to go to work each day. “Even when I’m not feeling physically well or it’s pouring down rain, I still want to come here,” she says about Kiki. “I love living in Lafayette, and I get to work with my daughter every day.”
Frayard also admits she gets a rush seeing her products on the arms or necks of women around town. “I imagine if you were a rock star and you hear your song on the radio, you’d get a thrill,” she says. “I love when I look over and see two or three handbags that I know people bought in my store.” — Erin Z. Bass