By Emily G. Peters
Fashion boutique owner Elisa Bruley is a woman on the move. Fresh from a buying jaunt to Italy, last weekend she headed off to Coachella for a weekend with the reigning Queen Bey. That same spirit of variation is evident in her shop, Elisa B.—serving looks that could be worn everywhere from Milan to the desert to a casual afternoon strolling about Old Town Pasadena.
Not necessarily identifying as a fashionista herself, Bruley prefers to spotlight her retail expertise in how women want to look and feel in their clothes. Indeed, her own entree into fashion didn’t start with flipping through magazines, but through her mother’s job at a coat and suit factory in downtown Los Angeles.
“She’s the one who taught me how to sew—it’s from her that I learned the finer points of tailoring, construction and all the good stuff about what goes into creating beautiful garments,” said Bruley. “My mom would see pretty dresses on a rack, create the patterns and make beautiful dresses, back when department stores were nice. That’s where I learned my love of retail and shopping. It’s in my DNA.”
Unsurprisingly, Elisa B. is somewhat evocative of those bygone days of retail elegance. Instead of cavernous racks of merchandise, the boutique is bright, spacious and well-stocked with special pieces from designers like Alexander Wang, Rachel Zoe, Shoshanna and many others. Service also reigns supreme here—something of notable importance to Bruley.
“I’ve worked hard over the years to know my clientele really well. I’m able to bring the brands that they want and the looks that they want along with our customer service, which is the whole purpose,” she said. “Our approach is very personal and genuine. I place a high premium with my staff developing relationships with our clients.”
Together, the Elisa B. team skillfully navigates client and popular tastes. And when it comes to defining one’s personal style, Bruley values trust over trends.
“Trust your instincts. Always. And I have to remind myself constantly about that,” she said. “A sales rep might tell me a certain look is blowing up at Barney’s, but I have to trust my sensibilities. If you feel good, and you look good, it doesn’t matter what the trends are or what people comment on. It’s all about going with your gut.”
With more than twenty years in business, Bruley has braved storms of self-employment and shifting styles. Pushed out of her longtime location on Colorado Boulevard after two decades, a recent year-long break gave her the chance to reevaluate her vision for Elisa B. Luckily for local fashion lovers, she stuck with it—and returned to the Shops on Holly stronger than ever.
“Holly has been a much more palatable situation, among like-minded independent business owners who care about the success of your business and not just their own,” said Bruley. “I really had to ask myself if this is really what I want to do with my life—and there is nothing more that I love than this.”
Elisa B. is located at 16 East Holly Street in Old Town Pasadena. Open seven days a week, you can contact the team at www.elisab.com | 626-397-4770 | firstname.lastname@example.org and follow along on Facebook and Instagram @myelisab and Twitter @elisabpasadena.