A Line Boutique's Karmen Berentsen
Our series Talk Shop is a career and style profile featuring personalities from various industries. They are shot on location in Cherry Creek sometimes wearing clothing from stores in the area. Esther Lee Leach interviews Karmen Berentsen, owner of A Line Boutiques at St Paul Collection in Cherry Creek North. Karmen wears clothing from A Line.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY ESTHER LEE LEACH// STYLING BY MANDI AMATO
LOCATION: ST PAUL COLLECTION
Esther Lee Leach: Tell us about your background and how you developed your love of fashion?
Karmen Berentsen: I’ve always loved the power of clothes and hated shopping. With success from my two tech training companies, I was thrilled when I grew professionally to the point that I could experience professional styling in European designer boutique, with stylists who could immediately size me up and do the “work” of shopping: grabbing items that made me look and feel good. And immediately began pinning them for tailoring when I walked out of the dressing room.
ELL: How did you become the owner of the A Line boutique?
KB: I walked into A Line in fall of 2012 to shop and learned that the original owner had moved overseas and was ready to liquidate at the end of her lease. Even though I was knee deep in launching my second tech company, I knew this was the perfect opportunity to combine my business skills and love of fashion - while meeting cool women in Denver.
ELL: Describe your role as the owner of multiple boutiques in Denver?
KB: I am not the buyer, not the stylist, not the merchandiser. What I love doing every day is being the conductor. As a musical conductor hears the music before it’s played, I feel like I see the potential in the industry as well as the potential in our team as “musicians’ and my specialty is orchestrating everyone into a grand crescendo by playing to the strengths of the individuals to make a more harmonious whole.
ELL: What makes A Line such a special place to shop?
KB: We are not a retail store, but a hospitality company with inventory. We are more in love with the woman than the product. The fabulous designers we carry provide us with amazing pieces of art, but the clothes are only tools in making women feel unique, beautiful, seen and invincible. It is the power of the clothing and the community that A Line fosters that makes it magic, not the product.
ELL: How would you describe your style?
KB: My style is quirky and playful, I enjoy pieces that are classic with an edge. The stylists at A Line have allowed me to cultivate and hone in on my own style to where I can look put together and effortless and mix in pieces that are uniquely “me”, while being ridiculously comfortable and not fussy.
ELL: Where do you find your style inspiration?
KB: Our team - I love watching their Instagram pages and watching them actively style every woman who walks in the door. It constantly inspires me to mimic their ideas and combinations (which I would never dream up myself) and try new things as they curate looks for women with different tastes, sizes, etc.
ELL: Who are your favorite designers?
KB: Sonia Rykiel and Avant Toi have been long time favorites of mine that I actually brought into A Line because I had been wearing them for years before getting into fashion. Ironically, now I am really enjoying the newer, edgier brands like the street style of Off-White.
ELL: Do you think Denver has a style language like New York or Paris? What is it?
KB: Yes. In my opinion, Denver women want to look and feel fabulous without being fussy or uncomfortable. The language is still changing as the city grows it fashion consciousness, but we couldn’t be further from the flashy, label obsessed culture that rule some cities. We have a reputation for a leaning toward athleticwear and all things Lululemon, but when women come into our store, they ditch their Lulus for leather leggings and are immediately wowed that they can have an elevated and edgy look that is still comfortable and works for an active lifestyle.
ELL: What are your five favorite pieces from your closet?
KB: A diamond bracelet, originally owned by Audrey Hepburn, Christian Louboutin Pink Pumps with Swarovski Crystals, Balenciaga wide leg black pants, Yves Salomon mink fur bomber and my Avant Toit Scarf collection.
ELL: Do you have any items in your closet that you regret buying?
KB: Not any longer, now that the A Line stylists have gotten ahold of my closet. Before that, I was a victim, like everyone else, of buying things I didn’t actually like or that didn’t match my style just because they were on sale.
In this week’s My Style Guide, Karmen shares her journey to becoming the owner of A Line.