Punch Profiles: People to Know / 14 Questions with the Beautiful, Enterprising Owner of Current Boutique Carmen Lopez
I met Carmen Lopez at a dinner party in Arlington that my friend Kathy Hooban was hosting. It was so long ago, 6 years ago perhaps.Â At the time, I could be defined as a newbie to the ‘hood.Â I’d been living in Arlington for over a year and was loving the young urban feel (after being a Restonite for way too long), which Courthouse and Clarendon projected.Â I remember I was intrigued by her.Â Carmen’s energy is infectious, her laugh and smile is something you want to be around as much as possible, yet you can sense an understated sense of seriousness. She means business-but with sweetness.Â That night we learned of her intentions on opening up a women’s clothing consignment store on Wilson Boulevard called Current Boutique.Â The neighborhood was going through a bit of a transition, the old mom and pop shops were being shown the door, while big national chains were able to pay the high rent.Â Condos and apartment buildings were replacing old familiar restaurants.Â I was pleased to hear of Carmen’s endeavor, but frankly, I had my doubts on its success.Â An individually owned consignment shop in Arlington NOW? I wished her luck and hoped to be able to help.
I became a fan and patron as soon as the doors opened.Â Carmen kindly asked me to MC the one year fashion show.Â She and her team, have never stopped.Â Over the years, they’ve opened up 3 stores (Clarendon, Old Town, Logan Circle) and will be greeting sellers and buyers in Bethesda shortly.Â Visit any of the locations and you’ll understand why.Â Lest we forget, Current Boutique is the brain child of Carmen, is led by her, and continues to be her dream come true.
Pamela’s Punch:Â Tell us about your background. Have you always been a Washingtonian?
Carmen Lopez:Â I was born in upstate New York and moved to the DC area when I was six years old. I went to University of Maryland and currently live in Arlington, VA.
PP:Â How did you choose to go into the retail/consignment industry?
CL:Â My love for swapping clothes with friends encouraged me to open the first Current Boutique. I had a closet overflowing of fantastic, quality items that I didn’t wear anymore because of various reasons-I already wore it to a special occasion, I’d been photographed in it too many times, or I just outgrew it. It’s a great feeling to see a pre-owned dress go to a new happy home for someone else to enjoy-that’s what Current Boutique is about.
PP:Â Running three stores with inventory, staff and a constant need to be ahead of the curve can be a huge challenge. What would you say “drives you’?
CL:Â I have a constant need to please my customers. I want to give them the best shopping/consignment experience out there.
PP:Â Who is your style inspiration?
CL:Â I am inspired by so many people right now. I love Kate Middleton, Leighton Meester, Kim Kardashian and Jennifer Lopez, they always looks so pretty and pulled together head to toe.
PP:Â How would you describe your own style?
CL:Â Feminine and Flirty. I love dresses and statement jewelry.
PP:Â “Who” shops at Current?
CL:Â Fashion forward women with with an active social life that need a revolving wardrobe to keep up with her many appointments, business meetings, dates and happy hours!
PP:Â You got married while you were opening up stores, what was that like?
CL:Â I met my then-boyfriend while opening my first location. He has been very supportive through the whole process of growing the business.
PP:Â Who would you say is your biggest supporter/mentor?
CL:Â My family and my husband Chris. They are always around to pitch in and give advice.
PP:Â Give us the landscape of the consignment industry here and in other markets?
CL:Â Consignment is so popular right now. People like finding quality pieces at great prices. There is a lot of excitement in finding a treasure and saving money. The consignment industry is blossoming thanks to value-conscious consumers. With an increasing awareness of the importance of reducing pointless waste, we are progressing from a disposable society to a recycling society, a change that has enormous market potential for the consignment industry as a whole.
PP:Â How do you choose what designers are bought back? What is the process?
CL:Â No appointment is necessary. Clothes are reviewed on the spot and consignors receive half of the selling price. We look for modern and classic items. We look for quality and construction of the clothing. Current Boutique loves natural fabrics cotton, silk, wool, cashmere, linen etc.
PP:Â Let’s say I’m not from the area. You are in North Arlington (Courthouse/Clarendon), Logan Circle and Old Town and are about to open in Bethesda.Â How would you describe the demographics and neighborhood to an out of towner? How did you come to choose those areas to plant Current Boutique?
CL:Â I love walkable neighborhoods. Consignment is fun, and I look for neighborhoods that are vibrant and active. I look for neighborhoods that you could spend the day wandering the streets, shopping and eating. Current Boutique needs to be where the action is.
PP:Â Do you have any favorite places to escape here or away?
CL:Â My husband and I try to take 1 long vacation a year. Last year we went to Israel, this year we are trying to decide between India or Asia. I look forward to those vacations every year!
PP:Â What is next for Current Boutique?
CL:Â You can expect Current Boutique to continue to grow and expand.
PP:Â What is next for you?
CL:Â I will continue to improve and grow Current Boutique and I look forward to meeting and working with amazing people along the way.
Pamela Lynne Sorensen is the founder of Pamela’s Punch, a leading source of information for the “who, what, when, and where” of Washington, DC’s elite social, professional, and philanthropic scene, which she founded in November of 2006. In 2012 she launched Pacific Punch, based in Los Angeles. Pamela comes from an extensive background in sales and business development from a variety of industries, has been involved with charities and fundraising for a number of years and holds several Board and leadership positions. She currently resides in Arlington, Virginia and when she’s not out on the town, she’s reading or writing while sipping fine wine, or traveling the country and the world ISO adventures, beauty, fun, food, style, libations, music, and the good life. Follow her on Twitter at @pamelaspunch.