With local roots that date back to 1925, Jennifer Frehling, Miami native and Owner of Frangipani, has pursued various entrepreneurial endeavors since graduating from college with a degree in Architectural History. After owning a gallery, restoring houses and working on design projects for friends, she spent 10 years in the Design District working as a Buyer for her family’s furniture and lighting business. According to Frehling, the idea for Frangipani was driven by a lack of supply and a demand for unique products.
“During my years of buying for the showroom, I realized there was a significant void for unique, modern and fun home accessories made in small batches by local artists using sustainable materials,” she said. “After discovering some incredible products, I had a vision of what that business would look like.”
Frehling’s vision was brought to life in 2012 in one of Miami’s most happening entertainment districts. The neighborhood, Wynwood, offers tourists and locals and array of craft breweries, funky art galleries, chic clothing boutiques and showcases incredible art from some of the best known street artists. For Frehling, it was the most obvious place to open her new business.
“We were actually one of the first boutiques in Wynwood,” she said. “Even though today we’re considered an independent lifestyle boutique, when we first opened, we were more home and gift oriented. The demand of the neighborhood is what led me to add clothing, jewelry, books, stationary and other unique accessories.”
Frehling shared that one of her early challenges was figuring out the amount of inventory required to keep the store full and “juicy”. The business model for a boutique is much different than that of a furniture showroom. As Frehling adapted to the nuances of the new model, keeping pace with the dynamic neighborhood and working against the Internet continues to keep her on her toes.
“The Internet is obviously a huge challenge for most retailers,” Frehling said. “For us, it comes down to being price competitive and finding unique products not available on Amazon. We’re also enticing more people to come into the store. Wynwood has exploded and, as we grow and adapt, it’s clear that telling our unique story through our beautiful products is important for our growth.”
Frehling continued, “As the years have gone on, I’ve focused more on themes that matter to me and the things I think are great about life. I love beauty and interior design. I also love books about issues that I find important or lifestyles I appreciate. I also try to support women’s Co-Ops and other groups through the products I buy.”
Looking ahead, Frehling is excited about a move in January to a new space 1 1/2 times the size of the current location. The new location will make it easier for locals to stop in and will provide ample space to host more events in the store.
What advice does Frehling having for aspiring entrepreneurs? “I’ve had three businesses in three up and coming business districts,” she said. “First was the gallery on Lincoln, then the showroom in the Design District and now Frangipani in Wynwood. While it’s essential to do a good business plan and know what you’re getting yourself into, I also think that researching the neighborhood is very important. Go into that neighborhood and talk to people. Find out about customers, hours, safety. Also, get as close an idea as possible to how much revenue you can bring in. Knowing your numbers is crucial. Lastly, build a great team where everyone is working together on a common mission. Hire employees that are creative and passionate about what they do.”