She stakes success on sexy, beach-to-chic clothing

Cortney Cohen, owner of The Geisha House, stands near clothing inside the Old City women's boutique on Wednesday, February 5, 2014. (Yong Kim / Staff Photographer)

CORTNEY COHEN, 27, of Old City, owns the Geisha House, a women's boutique on 3rd Street below Race, in Old City. Cohen, a former nurse, opened the boutique in December 2012, and it quickly attracted a following for its sexy, edgy blouses and boho maxi dresses by mostly Australia- and California-based designers.

 Q: How did you come up with the idea?

A: I have a nursing degree from Thomas Jefferson University and was a nurse for three years, but starting a boutique was always a dream. I took business-development classes and have a friend who owns a boutique, Never Too Spoiled, and she let me work for her to get experience.

Q: And the name?

A: I wanted to have a little bit of Asian flair, something that's memorable, and I like the idea of the geisha because she's this girl that's iconic, and geishas are artistic and intelligent.

Q: What's the Geisha House brand?

A: I want clothes for a woman who goes to a party and kind of stands out and somebody says, "Oh, I love that, where did you get that?" I describe the brand as beach-to-city chic.

Q: How did being a nurse affect what clothing you wanted to sell?

A: Nurses need to be empathetic. I feel, when I sell somebody something they want, I'm making them feel good and I'm listening to them and using my nursing skills. That's helped me run this business the right way.

Q: Where do you get your clothes?

A: From boutiques around the world. I go to the trade shows, mainly the one in New York. With social media and the Internet, you can spot trends. I've found so many labels on Instagram and Pinterest.

Q: Who are your customers?

A: She's a free spirit, a little bit edgy and sexy, but tasteful. Young, college-age women like these dresses, but I also have some customers in their 50s.

Q: What do clothes cost?

A: I didn't want the store to be high-high-end, and I wanted to keep everything under $250. I have maxi dresses from $50 to $200. Jackets are $80 to $250, leggings are a huge seller and they're under $75.

Q: Employees?

A: I have three part-time workers plus myself.

Q: Do you sell online?

A: I'm working on my website, but people message me on Facebook and Instagram, and I ship to Australia.

Q: What sets you apart?

A: I think it's my passion. A lot has to do with customer service. I talk to everyone in here, and I never want to be pushy. I post a lot of stuff on social media, so it's a mix of branding, price point, customer service.


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