If it wasn’t for accidentally walking down the wrong street in Los Angeles in 2015, LaToya Rozof’s dress shop might not exist.
The Olathe boutique owner studied fashion merchandising and business at Kansas State before working in human resources for fourteen years. She was in LA, where her husband is from, exploring the Garment District when she inadvertently ended up on a wholesale block. She was mesmerized by the sheer amount of clothing available.
“I came home and started researching and ended up getting my wholesale license so I could buy,” she says. “However, I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to do with it. I knew I wanted a boutique, but I didn’t know what kind of clothes I wanted to sell.” We chatted with her about her backward journey to running her dress shop, 79Roze, which caters to curvy women—or as she says, curvy divas.
How did you come into your niche?
I saw this dress shop owner on Shark Tank. I will never forget her talking about how she made a million dollars just on social media marketing. I remember thinking, “A dress shop? That’s such a cool niche.” Women always need dresses, right? As I started learning about the industry, I realized I needed more of a competitive advantage, so black dresses came to mind, because every woman needs a little black dress. I went to a local entrepreneur incubator and the feedback that I got was, “Love the idea. Niche some more.” If you are a curvier girl and go shopping, there’s not much available in dresses and if there are, it’s typically not really fashion forward. I knew I had to cater my little black dress shop to curvy girls.
How has your inventory evolved and grown over the years?
When you think of a little black dress, you probably think of a black cocktail dress for formal gatherings. From feed-back in the last three years, I thought it was important to start incorporating more casual garments. People want more everyday dresses instead of one-hit wonders. I started thinking about what women can wear to work or church or while running errands. I’m incorporating more casual pieces and then pops of color came with it.
Do you have your eye on any specific trends?
I follow Women’s Wear Daily for most of my fashion news. I’m really liking the popular feminine look of ruffles. Neon colors are also back again, like total nineties, and I love it.
How do you want women to feel when they’re wearing your dresses?
Our mission is to empower women to embrace their curves and bodies just as they are. We are so hard on our bodies. I want you to feel beautiful because you found something that fits you and you don’t have to worry about only having a few options. Here, you have a plethora of options to choose from. I want you to feel like the queen that you are.
Latoya’s Kansas City Favorites:
Monarch Bar on the Plaza is a really sexy place for cocktails. When I’m there, I feel like I’m in another city.
One of our favorite places to go is Novel. They just have good, kind of funky-style, solid food.
Burnt Ends Sandwich at Gates
Gates, to me, has the best burnt ends sandwich. They nail it every time.
GO: 79Roze’s personal shopping experience is by appointment. 79roze.com