New downtown clothing store targets college-aged women

Kristine Gill

Phoenix Project store Figleaf opens doors

Laura Millerschoen, freshman exercise science major, looks at necklaces located around the register at Figleaf, the second retail addition of the Phoenix Project in downtown Kent. Daniel Doherty | Daily Kent Stater

Credit: DKS Editors

Hardwood floors, tall windows and bright clothing greeted Figleaf’s first customers at the boutique’s opening Friday in downtown Kent. The shop, located at 138 Main St., is the second retail location to open as part of the Phoenix Project.

Mannequins have hung in Figleaf’s windows for a month, tempting passersby. While the shop’s owner, Lynne Francisco, said she advertised with a group on Facebook and a Web site, word of mouth and curiosity drew the first customers who trickled in steadily last week.

“We were just driving by to go tanning and we saw the windows and said ‘yes,'” said freshman exercise science major Laura Millerschoen who bought a dress and a tube top during her impromptu visit. She said she hadn’t heard about the store until seeing it that day.

Kent is the fifth city to welcome a Figleaf store. Francisco opened the first boutique in 1995 in Athens, Ohio. Francisco catered to the younger demographic from the beginning, positioning her stores close to college campuses with locations in Oxford, Ohio; Morgantown, W. Va. and Pittsburgh.


Location: 138 Main St. Kent, OH

Hours: Wednesday through Saturday from noon to 6 p.m.

Web Site:

“I don’t call it a chain, but it is the fifth store. That’s for big corporations, and we’re really not about that,” Francisco said.

Francisco travels to Los Angeles and New York City to handpick the items she will sell and tries to visualize what she thinks college girls want to wear. The store is focusing on spring break attire. Toward the end of the semester, the store will sell graduation dresses and a few more professional pieces for job interviews.

“I’m always concentrating on how it’s going to be worn, and where and how they’ll wear it,” Francisco said. The store had dozens of flowing tops and dresses in bright colors and floral prints. Shoes, sunglasses and jewelry lined the racks. Francisco hand picks and buys just a few sizes in each item.

“A year ago, I was looking for a new store location and opened the store in Pittsburgh, but in the meantime, Ron (Burbick) talked about renovating (downtown),” she said. “He really made the space just for Figleaf.”

Ron Burbick is funding part of the renovation efforts downtown with his own money. He said Francisco chose the flooring, positioned the lighting and asked that the ceiling be left open for a more industrial look. Burbick said Francisco couldn’t find a place in Kent that met her standards when she first considered the city but was willing to wait for downtown developments.

“We have no clothing shops in Kent whatsoever and (Francisco has) been successful with her business for 15 years. She knows her market and has a good track record,” Burbick said. “She seemed to be a perfect fit for Kent.”

Contact public affairs reporter Kristine Gill at [email protected].