Wendy Lombardo, owner of Reign Fashion Boutique, said she wasn’t expecting a few hundred people to pass through her West End shop during its grand opening in Long Beach last September. The 39-year-old Queens native, who has been in retail for over a decade, opened the door to a new scene of beach culture with the expansion of her fashion business. The corner store gem at 872 W. Beech Street caters to teens all the way through women in their mid-40s. The store is filled with innovative trends and unique styles trickled down from couture and runway lines, all at a reasonable price.
With the help of manager and public relations coordinator, Jenna Morace, Reign has grown significantly from its once single shop of only 1,000 square feet in Merrick (opened in 2009), to two ever-expanding locations and an online e-commerce business.
Whether it’s rompers, overalls, jewelry, hats or just some gift-ready trinkets, Reign has it all. The best part? The new shop is just a hop, skip and jump away from the boardwalk and other West End destinations. Get ready, because spring is here and it’s time to break out the chambray—and, of course, the champagne!
LI Native Takes Denim to New Heights
What made you want to expand Reign into Long Beach?
I’ve always loved Long Beach—I lived there about five years ago—and I appreciate the laid-back vibes and the feel of the neighborhood. Every year I would go back in the summer and I’d always be at a restaurant or bar in the West End and think, “Hmm, one of these days I am going to open a store here.” Then I saw a property that had been redone—Long Beach completely changed after Superstorm Sandy—and decided to give the contractors a call. It was a corner spot and I instantly knew that it was the spot! I told myself that if the process was going to be difficult, I was going to take it as a sign that it’s not meant to be. But after all was said and done, the store opened a month after I had contacted them.
Describe Reign’s new spring fashion line. What is your favorite outfit? Accessory?
We’re seeing a bunch of jumpsuits and overalls, which have been super popular this season, a lot of denim skirts and chambray, which is a lighter material. Although the store is very bohemian in general, we tend to get some more preppy styles for the warm weather. As for color, we are seeing a lot of pastels as well as blush and neutral tones.
Describe the Reign brand in three words.
Evolving, always evolving! Bohemian and…I’d say definitely unique.
As a woman business owner and entrepreneur, what drives you to keep innovating and keep the Reign brand relevant?
This has always been my passion. When I was younger, I didn’t really play sports and I wasn’t particularly good in school but I was always interested in fashion and visual merchandising. After taking a few classes at the Fashion Institute of Technology on the weekends, I developed this trade…New ideas are always popping up in my head and I’m always trying to think about the newest trends out there. I’m always paying attention to customers to see what they like and see how they are responding and how they participate in our store. Are they Instagramming us or messaging us? For example, I have a lot of girls who go away for college and they constantly want to know more about our clothes, so that has driven me to start an e-commerce business.
Reign was invited to participate in a fashion show at the second annual Women in the Arts Awards Gala at the Allegria Hotel in Long Beach in March. Why do you think it was important to attend?
This whole movement of women empowerment has been great and all the recognition we are getting is always a plus. As a woman business owner, you really need to develop a toughness and a thick skin to succeed. This event really acknowledged powerful women and was a great showcase for our brand.
How does Reign clothing empower women? Teens?
Once I see the way women react to the outfits we put together or the way they feel once they are in them, I feel I’ve done my job and that I truly helped them. I love when they come back and they tell us about a particular event and how many compliments they received. You can see how it just transforms their personality. When you look good, you feel good!
Where do you see the Reign brand headed? Can we anticipate any new lines or stores in the future?
I’m definitely thinking that e-commerce is the way of the future. More and more people are shopping online. Right now I don’t have plans for a third store but it’s never out of the question. We just want to figure out new and interesting ways of doing things and try and think outside of the box. In Long Beach, we are going to have some outside shopping in the summer to really give it that West Coast shopping experience. Of course, we’ll also be taking advantage of all the local events happening in the neighborhood. You always need retail therapy!