Small shop, big vision

Located in the heart of downtown Kent, adjacent to the newly constructed Acorn Alley, sits Figleaf, a small shop with a big vision. Filled with the latest trends in clothing, jewelry and footwear, the downtown boutique has quite the uptown ambiance. Its colorful organization and moody lighting are sure to lure in the trendiest shoppers. 

While speaking with the store’s owner, Lynne Francisco, it is easy to see that she has a real vision for the future of Figleaf. She was kind enough to answer a few questions via email about Figleaf Kent and its other three locations in and surrounding Northeast Ohio.

How and when did you get involved with Figleaf? When was the company founded?
I opened the first Figleaf in the fall of 1995 near the Ohio University campus in Athens, Ohio.

How many locations does Figleaf have? Is there any specific reason these locations were chosen?
I currently have 4 locations: Athens, Morgantown, Pittsburgh and Kent.

Athens (57 N. Court St. Athens, OH 45701): I grew up in Athens, graduated from Ohio University with a BFA in studio arts, and then moved to New York City for 4 years. I wanted to move back to the Midwest to raise my son. Athens, having the Ohio University campus, was the perfect spot to raise my son, be close to family and also to start Figleaf! The college girl is Figleaf’s main customer!

Morgantown (491B High St Morgantown, WV 26505): I chose Morgantown near WVU [West Virginia University] because I knew that the demographic was similar to Athens; small town with lots of college girls who love fashion!

Pittsburgh (1406 E. Carson St. Pittsburgh, PA 15203): I wanted to try Figleaf in a bigger market, and Pittsburgh seemed like the ideal place to do that! We are located on the hip Southside next to lots of bars, restaurants, dance clubs and music venues and a few boutiques. We are not far from Duquesne, Pitt, Art Institute and Carnegie Mellon, to name just a few colleges in Pittsburgh, so Figleaf attracts both college girls as well as young working profession women who live in or visit Pittsburgh.

Kent (138 E. Main St. Kent, OH 44240): Close to Kent State University! There really weren’t any clothing boutiques to shop at in Kent for the college girls or local community, plus [businessman and philanthropist] Ron Burbick renovated a beautiful space in downtown Kent just for Figleaf! I really like the small town feel with the close proximity to the greater Cleveland area! Plus, with the fashion school at Kent, I knew there would be lots of girls into clothes!

What kind of clothing does Figleaf sell? Who is the target customer?
Figleaf primarily targets the college girl’s lifestyle, with overlap into the high school market, as well as young professional women who may have recently entered their professional careers, or who are just young at heart! We try our best to bring in the very latest trends at an affordable price so our customers can afford to look great! Our products range from $4 to $80. We sell basic cotton items, denim, casual and dressier dresses and tops, as well as shoes, jewelry and other accessories.

What makes Figleaf unique compared to other boutiques, or even compared to retail stores in popular shopping places (such as the mall, online, etc.)?
Many of our customers like to shop at Figleaf because of its smaller, more intimate and friendly environment, as well as for our low price points and great styles. Everything is well organized so you don’t have to wade through tons of styles and piles of clothes, plus we try to have a youthful, friendly staff to help you out if you need it! Also, we’ll carry just a few of one style, so you won’t see it on every girl out on the weekend! Also a plus: we get new things in weekly!

Where do you see the company going in five years? 
In five years perhaps we will have opened in another location or two! By then, I also hope to have the online shopping experience available on a regular basis for our customers who do not live close to one of our stores! We are working on that now! Lastly, in five years I hope to be in the process of developing a unique Figleaf line of clothes with our own label to sell in stores and online designed specifically with Figleaf shoppers in mind!

Ten years? Will the store be expanding? Will there be any new locations?
In 10 years, Figleaf will have been around for 25 years! I hope to still be bringing our customers what they want at an affordable price, and making them happy.

Are there any upcoming sales or events we should be aware of?
You can join our email list on our Web site to stay informed about upcoming sales, events and new arrivals!You can also become a fan on Facebook where we post pics weekly! Just visit our site and click on the store closest to you where you will find the button to become a fan! Or just log into Facebook, and type in the search window: Figleaf Kent.

For more information, visit

Monday, April 5, 2010