Image courtesy Melissa Akkaway
Interview

Melissa Akkaway

10.31.13

Las Vegas native Melissa Akkaway is the owner of Beckley Boutique, a one-stop shopping destination specializing in womenswear and accessories. Armed with a degree from Georgetown University Business School and extensive retail experience, Akkaway opened the first Beckley Boutique in West Hollywood, CA, paying homage to her great-grandfather’s menswear business of the same name. In 2010, Akkaway opened a second location in The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas, and in 2011, added the title of designer to her resume with the launch of contemporary private label collection, Beckley By Melissa. Last year, Beckley LA moved to a new 2,000 square foot location on West Third Street, complete with personal shoppers and tailors for a truly VIP experience.

Interview

How has the LA retail landscape changed since opening your store 5 years ago?

I think the shoppers really want to find value and wearability in the items they purchase. Items need to be a bit more timeless and versatile.

In what ways did your experience with Mandalay Place prepare you for running your own business?

It gave me perspective from the leasing side of the business, so when it came time for me to look for a space and negotiate my lease, my previous experience truly kicked in.

How often are you in Las Vegas? Do you have a love/hate relationship with the city?

I love Las Vegas. This is my hometown and to me, it’s still a small town. I am in Vegas at least once a month and sometimes more often, depending on my family and work.

Your store features a wide variety of designers – who are your top sellers?

My top sellers are Opening Ceremony, Phillip Lim, and Theyskens Theory to name a few.

What made you decide to start designing your own collection?

It launched in 2011 with our first collection and 15 styles. We have expanded to producing 40 styles per season. I wanted to make items that I could not find in the market, and also design pieces that speak to my personality and style sensibility.

Does it retail outside of the two Beckley locations?

Yes. Beckley by Melissa is currently stocked in a few stores scattered across the country.

Do you do all the designing? Is it tough to balance all the responsibilities of running a store and a line?

Life is about balance, and I am trying to find that balance with my personal life and my professional life. It’s all about lists in my notebook that keep me sane and organized. I have a head designer, Kelsie Hayes, who has all the technical training and is in tune with me. We do all the fabric sourcing together as well as inspiration, preliminary design ideas, all the way through to sample making and production. We make a great team.

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