It can be tough knowing when to strike on a business idea. In Dr. Lillie Mosadegh's case, tough knowing when to franchise a Parisian business with a 30-year legacy.
Mosadegh waited 10 years to bring upscale French label Cop Copine to the states. She always loved the brand and made yearly vacations to Europe in part to gussy up her wardrobe.
After much soul-searching, she finally snatched up the U.S rights for the boutique and opened one in the Union Square neighborhood of San Francisco. Now she's bringing her second installation to Chicago. Earlier this month, Mosadegh soft-launched Cop Copine at 919 N. Michigan Ave. There will be a grand opening in late May or June once the store's collection has been finalized for the season.
As Mosadegh's title indicates, she's keeping her day job, but she's getting a bit bolder with her entrepreneurial endeavors.
Inc. Well talked to Mosadegh about the research she did in bringing Cop Copine to the area, and why she's so optimistic about Chicago specifically.
Since Cop Copine has only been stateside since 2009, can you give readers a bit of a background on the store and its history? Dr. Lillie Mosadegh: Cop Copine is a 30-year-old French brand and they're all about is everyday chic women's wear. They focus on "five women, five sizes, one brand," which means they appeal to women across the board. They do both edgy designs and also more classic designs or a combination of that. For 30 years they've followed this and have been very successful.
I do not know the exact number but they have close to 100 boutiques in the world. In the United States this is the first time it's introducing itself with its own house-brand boutiques. The first one opened in San Francisco, and in August it'll be three years. Given this economy it was very difficult when I opened the first store. The reason I opened there is because I live there.
What sort of research did you do in selecting Chicago as the second US location?
I went to undergrad at U of I and I did my medical school in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I was in Chicago every other week. I loved the city, I have nothing but fond memories of the people and the city. It was about 12, 13 years after I left the city that our academy meeting for ophthalmology was in Chicago. It gave me a chance to come back. What I saw was a city that had changed a lot from what I remembered, but all for the better. Now you can walk all over, the culture has gotten better. It basically reminded me of the city and how much I loved it.
With Cop Copine, we wanted to open stores in five US major cities. Chicago was definitely on the map to be one of them. The city to me is like a second home. New York will be the next one. In terms of demographics and why we think [Chicago's] the right place for the brand? Chicago has the sophistication and the elegance of the major East Coast and West Coast cities. And yet it has maintained its down-to-earth, Midwestern values. People are real to their core. I always enjoyed that.
We looked at the major cities in the US --- not only where the locals shop but also where there's great tourist attractions. Chicago's Magnificent Mile is like San Francisco's Union Square or New York's Fifth Avenue or Champs-Élysées in Paris. So we are aiming to go to the major areas in the major cities. Chicago fits that.
You mentioned the economy, and what tends to be said about it right now is one area that remains unaffected is upscale or luxury spending. Have you found that to be the case in the San Francisco location and now Chicago store? Yes, except that I feel that we're offering high-quality at the price that's affordable for a lot of people. Let me give you an example. In San Francisco we have ladies who come in and buy for their whole seasons and are done. They leave the store with 20, 30, 40 pieces. We also have ladies who come in every two weeks when they get their paycheck and get one piece at a time.
You appreciate all these customers and you appreciate the fact that it appeals to a great demographic not only socioeconomic-wise, also age-wise. What makes our brand unique? Our youngest customer is 16 but not a lot of 16-year-olds can afford to buy Cop Copine. Their parents are the ones helping. But our oldest customers are 80-something and are so delighted. The fact that in the US that we're finding the same demographic age-wise as in Paris are keeping up with the fashion world come in. We often have daughter, mother, and grandmother shopping at the same time in our store. It pleases us to the max. We don't want to be appealing exclusively to one demographic.