Photography By Kacy Meinecke
Handpicked Los Angeles is a women’s clothing boutique in Old Town that specializesin unique contemporary styles and one-of-a-kind vintage clothing. Its owner, Lauren Mercado, solely handpicks and curates the store’s collection, buying everything from Los Angeles. She also conducts all of the store’s photoshoots right here in Wichita, using local models and photographers.Mercado opened the store 1 ½ years ago when she left the corporate fashion world in L.A. for the Midwest.
What inspired you to start your own business?
Over the past 15 years of my career, I have created a specialized skill set from graphic design to wardrobe styling. With my broad set of skills, I decided that I could confidently leave the corporate fashion world.
Do you have a mentor or someone who influenced your life professionally?
Most definitely. I think having mentors is one of the most important assets to an entrepreneur. I have a few personal mentors but I also listen to a brilliant podcast called Entrepreneur on Fire each morning as a routine. In doing this I get advice from a different successful entrepreneur each morning and apply their story to my situation. I highly recommend it!
What’s your most significant professional accomplishment so far?
My most significant professional accomplishment thus far would be my decision to leave the corporate world in L.A. and build my business here in Wichita. My boutique is my platform to reach the public, do some good and help Wichita flourish in the art space. So I must say that thus far opening my boutique and surviving for the first year is my most significant accomplishment. More to come for sure. I won’t stop.
What’s your favorite aspect of Wichita’s business community?
My favorite aspect of Wichita’s business community is the accessibility to other business owners. Local businesses are open to working together and give advice. There is truly a strong support system for Wichita business owners. I wouldn’t have the reach that I have now without the business community helping me spread the world. There are truly good people doing good business in this city and I wouldn’t want to open my shop anywhere else because of this.
What are your professional aspirations for the near future?
This year I aspire to become a real voice for the young artists and fashionistas right here in Wichita. There are so many talented people under 30 and I think it’s important to give them a space to create within Wichita and kind of bridge the gap from the West Coast to here. I am working on fashion courses and more to connect my friends in the industry to the local youth. I feel it’s important for them to recognize that what they dream to achieve is absolutely possible.
What advice do you have for aspiring female entrepreneurs?
I credit my success thus far to being a genuine, kind and strong woman in all aspects in my life. I pride myself on this. If you pair that with a true passion, you have found the sweet spot in entrepreneurship and opportunities will come to you. But when they do, you must recognize them and take them. Don’t hesitate!