The face behind Fig Leaf

Robert Checkal

Owner Lynne Francisco speaks on the store’s specialty clothing

Lynne Francisco, owner of the recently opened Figleaf boutique in downtown Kent, has loved fashion for a long time. Her passion ultimately inspired her to open up the first Figleaf boutique in Athens, set up shop near other college campuses in Oxford, Morgantown, W.Va., and Pittsburgh and now, bring her expertise to Kent. We sat down and talked to Lynne about why she felt inspired to start her boutique in the first place and what Figleaf has to offer the Kent clientele.

Q: What made you want to set up boutiques?

A: When I was a little girl, my mom made all of my clothes. We used to pick up fabrics and cut fabrics, so I always wanted to be a designer. I got a scholarship for the art department at Ohio University and got a degree in fine arts. I still really wanted to do something in fashion. Girls love clothes; I think it’s everyone’s dream to have a boutique. Over the years, it really happened for me.

Real quick:


Location: 138 E. Main St., Kent

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

Web Site:

Q: Do you do your own trend forecasting, and what do you look for?

A: Right now, I look at every available media. I look at all of the fashion magazines (and) celebrity magazines, and I watch reality shows. Not that I’m necessarily into the storyline – I’m watching to see what those cute girls are wearing. High school and college girls look to what the stars are wearing.

Q: Who is your target audience, and what trends do they wear?

A: Youth is really popular. Youth really does drive the trends. I feel trends start in the L.A. area right now. When translating that to the store, I look at who my customers are and where they’re going to wear it based on demographics. I usually buy for college-aged and young, professional, working women.

Q: What do you think most about when buying?

A: I look at the price point. I want to keep it affordable. Trends move so fast. Girls are going to wear a style for maybe a season; it’s nothing you’d keep for a lifetime. I try to keep everything under $50, just a look someone can buy for over the weekend. I also look at the styles girls are going to enjoy wearing that look good on the body.

Q: Where does your merchandise come from?

A: I established a great relationship with the manufacturers I buy from. Most manufacturers are in L.A., and some are in N.Y.C. Some do come out of various countries, but for the most part the clothes I sell are made in the U.S.

Q: Do you reorder merchandise?

A: I try to order an item and get it in the store once. My market is really small. I don’t want to keep ordering the same dress so a girl goes out and sees other girls wearing the same dress. I try to get new styles in every week.

Q: What’s your favorite part about running and setting up new stores?

A: I love seeing the reaction of the customer when they find something they’re going to love. When they’re happy, I’m happy. That’s really what it’s all about.

Q: What’s the most difficult part about running and setting up new stores?

A: Learning how to manage people. You also have to learn to let go a little bit and have people represent the store in the way you want. I have five to six girls in each store. It’s been really rewarding over the years. I’ve made a lot of friends, and I really enjoyed it.

Q: What is it about Figleaf that sets it apart?

A: Probably that we are a really small company. We get new things every week, and we cater to the lifestyle of our customers and listen to their needs. We also stay within a particular budget, and our style is unique.

Q: Tell me more about the store itself.

A: The store’s style and presentation is very clean. Our customers appreciate that everything is organized by color. When you go to other larger stores, you could spend hours searching through numerous styles. I get overwhelmed – things are everywhere. We try to edit the amount of time it’ll take you to find what you’re looking for. We try to make it easy, fun and relaxed, and there’s no pressure.

Contact all reporter Robert Checkal at

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