ENTHUSIASTIC THREESOME: Taking their Chrome Clothing Company to the bounds of Tulsa and beyond are, from left, Kevin Otis, Kristin Jacobs and Brian Kidd.
MATTHEW W. GROSS for GTR Newspapers
As an emporium of casual clothing you can hardly get more casual than the setting of Chrome Clothing Company.
Nestled between a dry cleaners and a coffee shop at 1732 S. Boston the upscale store for take-it-easy outfits boasts cement floors, décor-free walls and clothes hanging from pipe wracks.
None of which bothers the three young entrepreneurs at all.
Kristin Jacobs is the owner. Brian Kidd is the business manager or, as he likes to be called, the “fiancée”(of Kristin) and Kevin Otis is the store manager. All are in their early 30s.
Together they have put together a boutique of upscale casual wear that, they hope, will someday break the bounds of Tulsa commercialism and go worldwide. To that effect Brian spends many an hour in front of a computer, trying to come up with an enticing Internet presence. For the present most of their customers arrive the old-fashioned way: through the front door.
“We’re a casual boutique for both men and women,” says Brian. We wanted to be a little more high-end than you usually get in a mall. We’re bringing brands and styles that weren’t previously available in Tulsa.”
Their target market is the 25 to 35 age group. They are catering to people who are looking for a different style; although they say they offer plenty for older and younger shoppers. Asked to describe that different style, they say contemporary, premium, and casual. One of those styles includes jeans with the legs artfully “distressed” giving the impression of a pair of jeans artistically worn through at the knee.
“Our brands,” adds Kristin, “are in high demand all over the world.”
To that end they are bringing brands in they feel are new to Tulsa. Such names as Rock & Republic, Triple 5 Soul, Fornarina, Ed Hardy, Diesel, Pretty Punk, Stitch’s, Jet Lag and Meltin’ Pot may not leap out at most of you with household familiarity but apparently for some people they are a powerful commercial magnet.
“Our business, since we opened in late April,” says Kristin, “has far exceeded our expectations.”
How did three Oklahomans (Kristin is from Jenks, Brian from Owasso and Kevin from Antlers) became involved in a business one might think would be more at home on Los Angeles‚ Rodeo Drive?
Kevin and Brian were fraternity brothers at the University of Oklahoma with Kevin majoring in E-commerce and Brian in Marketing. Kristin went to Oklahoma State where she majored in Landscape Architecture.
Kevin and Brian kept in touch after school, occasionally rooming together. Kristin entered the picture five years ago on a blind date. By last fall Kristin and Brian were in Little Rock, Ark. and Kevin was running a branch of Abercrombie and Fitch in Tulsa.
“Kristin and I were doing remodeling and real estate but we were constantly brainstorming, looking for something better,” says Brian. “We wanted to do something we could be passionate about.”
Arkansas, they noted, had a number of boutiques that catered to both men and women but Tulsa’s boutiques tended to cater to one gender or the other. That belief, coupled with a desire to be closer to friends and family, made them decide to move back to Tulsa.
Meanwhile Kevin was looking for new worlds to conquer. He and Brian joined up again and suddenly the Chrome Clothing Company was born.
But why settle in a neighborhood crowded with coffee shops, dry cleaners, law offices, art galleries and barbeque restaurants with nary a clothing store in sight?
“We like” says Brian, “the character of the neighborhood and we think people will come to us. We’re not just a casual place where people wander by; we like to think we‚re a destination kind of store where people will seek us out.”