Nilou Ghodsi is the owner and buyer of Heist, a high-end women’s boutique located on Abbot Kinney in Venice, California. With a stock featuring both international designers like Isabel Marant, Jerome Dreyfuss and Vanessa Bruno, and domestic fare including Gary Graham, Inhabit, NSF Clothing and Raquel Allegra, Heist has been setting the Californian style standard for niche clientele since 2004.
You’ve recently reached out to your followers to support you in applying for a $250k grant from Chase sponsored Mission Main Street. In what way do you plan to use the money if you win the award?
I plan to use it to invest heavily into our e-commerce platform so that we can significantly improve the entire e-commerce experience — everything from free overnight shipping to having deeper inventory, updated more often, better photography, etc.
Have you always acted as the model on you’re e-commerce site?
Well yes, but what actually just started as me trying to get the site going has now turned into another full time job for me. My clients find me more relatable than a professional model and so when I slowly began to introduce another model, they voiced their opinions! I have to say though, it comes naturally to me, not necessarily because of prior modeling experience, but because I’ve always said “Heist is a bigger version of my own closet” and so everything I buy for the store is exactly what I would personally wear. I feel very comfortable in the clothes!
Did you have any prior modeling experience?
A little bit in my youth, but nothing serious.
How often can you be found on the floor?
Unless I’m traveling, I’m at the store six days a week, but I do have to split my time between the floor and the office/studio.
What is your relationship like with most of your customers?
Most of them have become much more than just clients over the years…they are very dear friends!
What is the process when selecting a new designer to your roster?
Very simple and perhaps selfish…if I would wear it myself, I buy it for the store. Also, I’d have to see longevity in the brand — I’m not into trends.
When did you move into your store on Abbot Kinney?
August 2004. The original space was so tiny I remember storing back stock in every crevice you could imagine! We expanded into the corner space next door in 2010. I still go stand in the smaller space and wonder how we managed in there!
What do you treasure most on the block?
Gjelina for food I will never tire of Kreation for juice — I can’t live without it!
When did you begin curating your own closet? Is there any one item that really defines you?
I’ve had a love affair with beautiful clothes for as long as I can remember, not really sure when it all began. There isn’t really a single item that defines me, but I must admit I have a particular fondness for anything with fur.
How do you see the world of e-commerce evolving? What are the tricks for staying unique?
I think, although the “Amazons” out there definitely serve a purpose when we’re buying toothpaste or electronics, when it comes to her clothing and shoes, the boutique shopper will always appreciate a curated selection as opposed to everything under the sun. That’s where people like myself can add value and therefore be unique. Any retailer can carry the same collections I carry, but no one can put looks together the exact same way as I do.