On a corner in Leawood’s Park Place, 32-year-old Julia Cockrum rolls white paint onto the walls of her mother’s boutique.
Cockrum describes the vision for the space while laying blue tape around the door.
“Boho, like modern chill,” she says. “It’s very modern, very clean, with a little bit, like, ‘We’re here to party.’”
Owner Susan Hatten, a Leawood 62-year-old, and her daughters have been busy picking out sweaters, purses and cardigans to hang on the store’s racks. That’s Hatten’s favorite part.
“I’ve heard, ‘Don’t sell anything you don’t like, and I love everything,’” she said.
Hatten calls her boutique “Lalli’s,” the nickname her five grandchildren call her, but she promises the style will be anything but dated.
Hatten clarifies: “Not a grandma boutique.”
If all goes as planned, Lalli’s Boutique at 5210 W. 116th Place will be open by Oct. 23 — definitely before Nov. 1. Hatten wants to have her doors open for all of Park Place’s holiday happenings.
Lalli’s will be next to Bella Bridesmaids. The bridal shop once owned the space Lalli’s now occupies, but it downsized.
The women’s clothing store will soon be stocked with girly dresses and professional jackets, but Hatten is equally excited for the small selection of home goods that will make up roughly a quarter of the shop’s inventory.
Hatten said she chose pieces that are budget-friendly and appeal to young professionals, mothers and middle-aged women.
“I want everything in here to be fun, where people can come and … maybe find something different that they wouldn’t normally wear,” Hatten said. “But then at the same time, if they need a pair of black pants, they can find that here, too.”
Cockrum said the opening process has brought her, her sister and her mom closer, though it wasn’t something they imagined they’d be doing a few years ago.
Hatten previously spent 34 years working in advertising. Her job allowed her to travel around the world — and to the most fashionable places, at that — like London, Paris and New York.
But when the pandemic hit, Hatten was laid off. She searched for opportunities in the field before realizing she had been handed the opportunity to start anew.
She took inspiration from a friend in Chicago, a boutique owner who was readying to retire. Hatten told her, “I’ll buy your fixtures,” and began looking for spaces around the Kansas City area.
“‘Location is truly the most important thing,’” her friend advised her. “‘You have to be somewhere with foot traffic.’”
With her Leawood space, Hatten feels she’s found just that.
Most importantly, the space has won the approval of her grandchildren. Her oldest grandson, 8-year-old Wyatt, was one of the first people to see it.
“The other day, just out of the blue, he said, ‘Lalli, I think your store is going to be very successful,’” Hatten said. “He even told me he wants to work here some day when he’s not in school.”