Katie Brown LA Opens First Store

Fashion entrepreneur and RAIN Eugene graduate Katie Brown opened her first retail location in downtown Eugene earlier this year. The intimate, industrial chic store on Willamette Street carries Brown’s personal line, Katie Brown LA, as well as other sustainability-driven brands.

While many companies are bracing for a Retail Apocalypse by shuttering their brick and mortar locations, Brown sees an opportunity to develop lasting bonds with customers.

“I’m very aware of the shift toward e-commerce, and I want to build that side of my company. But I am a firm believer in creating a tactile experience. I don’t think customers will ever lose the desire for a place to interact with a brand,” she said.

The first thing you may notice upon entering Brown’s shop is the slogan painted on the wall behind the register counter: “The Story Matters.” It is a call-back to when she first started thinking about opening a store.

“I was spending hours and hours online looking at brands to carry. I noticed that I was always starting on their About page — even before I looked at their clothes or prices.  So often I saw such a disconnect between who a company claimed to be, what they made, and why they made it,” Brown said.

Instead of buying a lot cheaply made pieces that clutter your closet and eventually go into landfills, Brown believes in buying fewer items that last. The Katie Brown LA line features comfortable, classic, timeless pieces of made-in-America clothing that become the basic staples and foundations of your wardrobe.

“Most women want good, basic pieces,” said Brown. “Our philosophy is: own less and love what you have.”

Experience in the RAIN Eugene Accelerator

Not every entrepreneur comes to RAIN Eugene looking for a roadmap from startup to launch. When Brown entered the Accelerator in 2016, she brought a decade of restaurant ownership and management experience; she was already selling her clothing and planning to one day open her brick and mortar store.

“For me, the RAIN Eugene experience was not about learning how to open a store. It was more about developing the state of mind for scaling a company. I see entrepreneurship as a continual evolution, and I’m definitely further along because of RAIN,” Brown said.

Brown also said that the best part of going through RAIN Eugene was the people she met — from her cohort peers to guest speakers and mentors.

What’s Next

With her store finally open, Brown wants fine tune the little details that will help the shop run effectively. She also plans to pursue large-scale investment in order to scale the company, offer more sizes, and promote the Katie Brown LA message.