By Brooke Bunch / Photos by Sara Norris (unless noted)
While many would-be fashionistas move to New York City to realize their fashion dreams, Shannon Portnyagin moved to San Diego.
The 24-year-old left her gig as a global marketing manager for MAC Cosmetics to launch online shopping hub houseofboutiques.com. Her goal: to enable customers to browse and buy fashion trends from other parts of the country without the need for travel.
Unlike online retailers boasting huge discounts, the independently owned shops houseofboutiques.com showcases offer a different kind of value: exclusivity.
"Our shoppers aren't looking for a deal, they're looking for unique items they can't find anywhere else," says Portnyagin. "They want to be confident they'll have a totally special look no one else is wearing."
Nearly 1,000 items from more than a dozen boutiques are for sale on the site. The selection may seem modest, but Portnyagin is expanding her collection and says her plan is to add at least one boutique from every major U.S. city within the year, bringing another glimmer of the Big Apple to the sunshine of America's Finest.
San Diego boutiques to explore at houseofboutiques.com
Blended Industries - La Jolla
Bloom - East Village
Durante's Menswear - Del Mar
GALERIe - La Jolla
Icons - Encinitas
Julie's Beachwear - Del Mar
Junc Life & Style - South Park
La Boutique Les Deux - Del Mar
Pebbles by the Beach - Del Mar
Style Child - University Heights
Shannon Portnyagin describes her faraway faves
Nola's - Paducah, Kentucky
"Nola's is brand new to Paducah, Kentucky. Their 'everyday' wear includes fantastic selections for young professionals and casual vacationers alike. Some brands will be familiar to the San Diego shopper, and some are totally foreign. And when are you ever going to get to visit Paducah and shop this boutique in person? Never."
Bittersweet - Salem, Oregon
"Our Oregon boutique is a great collaboration between a mother and daughter who know how to dress a wide range of ages. They provide San Diego shoppers a unique opportunity to buy flirty and flattering items that don't break the bank. Many boutiques are pricey, but Bittersweet is great for our aspirational shoppers that want quality trends they can afford. The entire houseofboutiques team is obsessed with the Nikibiki Ursula Skirt that's one-size-fits-all for $25. It's amazing."
Fanci That - Kearney, Nebraska
"The ladies behind Fanci That, our boutique from Kearney, Nebraska, describe their store as 'western chic.' The products they provide through our site are unlike anything you'll find in the San Diego market. With amazing cowgirl boots and colorful casual-wear, S.D. shoppers will love being able to create a totally unique look with what they have to offer. I bought a pair of boots for an upcoming trip to Nashville, but have somehow been able to make them work with everything I wear to work in San Diego."