The Press Democrat
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Cristina Wilson Hudlin and Michelle Wilson are the founders of clothing boutique “Ooh La Luxe.” By strategically planning and thinking ahead, the twin sisters were able to not only survive the pandemic but THRIVE!
For those who think small local retailers don’t stand a chance in a digital era dominated by behemoths such as Amazon and Walmart, meet Cristina Wilson Hudlin and Michelle Wilson Bien.
Petaluma natives, Sonoma State graduates and twin sisters as well as mothers, the two have operated their Ooh La Luxe clothing store for women since 2008, first starting out in a small Petaluma space and then branching out to Healdsburg and Santa Rosa locations.
Like other brick-and-mortar retailers, Ooh La Luxe experienced a shift in its customers’ buying habits. But the sisters were prepared. They upgraded their website about six years ago to make it easy to shop digitally and have a 5,000-square-foot warehouse that houses inventory.
The result was that Ooh La Luxe was able to grow its revenue, doubling sales over recent years, said Michelle Wilson Bien. The business generates a few million dollars in sales annually, and online sales quadrupled during the pandemic, she said.
“Without the website, we would have had a challenging time,” said Wilson Bien, who noted that digital and in-person sales are roughly equal for their business. They started their venture with about $6,000 after selling their small coffee business that they started while in college and have been able to self-fund their growth while promoting from their original 400-square-foot loft in Petaluma.