Rachel Salzman comes from a family of retailers so it’s no surprise that, after receiving an MBA, she turned her thoughts to a shop of her own. In Residence, opened in October 2010, is the epitome of a women’s “specialty” boutique. With household fashion names beside local talent, everything in In Residence is unique, from one-of-a-kind handmade treasures to non-profit endeavors. Here, Salzman speaks about the concept of her boutique, its designers and the charitable causes she holds dear. Interview by Rebecca Paiement

How do you choose the labels you sell? Do you shop trade shows or stick to showrooms?
I do a ton of googling and goggling online and try to find things that aren’t already blowing up in other shops or cities. I also tend to search by cause and reaching out to like-minded entrepreneurs who I know will be true to what I am passionate about. Often, my customers will tip me off to something that they love or are dedicated to and I’ll follow up that way. I do attend the trade shows for the education and opportunity to see what is out there. There are so many amazing lines but if they are already at the bigger shows, they are probably not as interesting for our customers. On the other hand, the classic staples and well established go-to brands are just as important so it is always good to check in with them.

In Residence, LA
In Residence, LA
Tell us about your work with charities and local philanthropy.
This is my favorite part of having a brick-and-mortar shop. Having a space to start important conversations and to showcase important causes is really at the heart of what drives In Residence. One level of it is representing non-profit brands or what I’ve been referring to clumsily as “philanthro-brands,” so companies like Falling Whistles, Feed by Lauren Bush and Krochet Kids are what everything else revolves around and what makes us who we are. While they might be trendy here or there, we plan to stick with them and always be a place where causes like this have a strong platform. On top of selling the product, we do regular events that are tied back to charity. Our best event to date was in April 2010 in benefit of Japan Relief Efforts. It was so inspiring to see how people open their wallets when they know that the money is going to a great cause. Plus, the conversation that takes place and education that is given is as important as the sale, if not more. My feeling is that people can spend their money anywhere these days and everyone has the same merchandise at the end of the day. The only thing that I can do to deserve a sale is provide something different, whether that be special product, a great in-store experience or a chance to contribute to the community and world around us.

How is your philosophy reflected in the look and feel of the store?
The store is in a modern building on a more classic older street. The exterior is pretty basic with our large window facing traffic and customers so we usually try to do something in the window that introduces who we are. Not just the clothing that we love but what we are all about. For example, we decaled over our window with just the word “GIVE” for holiday. Or, the month before that, we had the face of one of the women from Krochet Kids International, one of our favorite philanthro-brands. The interior is sort of modern loft meets craftsy. Concrete floor/sparse wall decorations (aside from whatever community artist or photographer we are featuring at the moment).
All of our furniture is made by repurposing the wood that was left from the structure here before our shop, beautiful wood from the 1930s which is cut thicker and larger than today’s, so perfect for our shelving, jewelry cases and display tables. Plus it smells like a gorgeous woodshop in here all the time.

Did you always know you’d open your own shop?
Previous to this I was working for Madewell and before that I earned my MBA with a focus on entrepreneurship. I grew up in a family of retailers so I always blame my obsession on that. It’s in my blood. It’s not my fault!

What's currently selling the best?
Our bread and butter is a basics line called Market Ts and our hot line of the moment is Popomomo. It represents everything we are about: based in LA, female, strong and made with a conscience, stylish and relevant but not “trendy” (a no-no around here). The designer Lizz Wasserman is a champion of all the things we believe in and her aesthetic is super interesting and so inspirational.

What do you predict will sell well in the coming season?
Popomomo for spring is beautiful, chic, feminine and still so different from anything else I’m buying. An LA-based shoe line called Fiel is fresh, well-crafted and amazing as well with woven oxfords and wood platforms. I can’t wait for it!

What feedback do you get from your customers?
The two things I hear the most is: “Everything in here is so soft!” and “I’ve never seen any of the things in here before.” Music to my ears.

In Residence, 2051 Sawtelle Blvd., Los Angeles, CA, +1 310.312.2049
In Residence, 2051 Sawtelle Blvd., Los Angeles, CA, +1 310.312.2049

Why did you decide to concurrently run an online store and does it account for a lot of your business?
I am still trying to master the online store thing. It is a totally different business and not the easiest thing for us right now. But I find that especially for our unique brands or lines that aren’t carried so much in LA, it is a great way for customers to find us. I know that fans of lines like Study NY and Dusen Dusen have found us by googling so we want to make sure that we are online as much as possible.