The best collection is yours. That’s how Kathy King thinks of fashion. True style is whatever looks and feels best on you. What you will wear and feel yourself in. The pieces that fit with your life, your self-expression and your priorities.
That message weaves through the racks at Barbara and Company, a women’s clothing store in downtown Boulder.
King, the owner of Barbara and Company and a Boulder County resident, says its that personalization and a high level of customer service that has kept the store in business for 35 years.
Here, the sales associates double up as personal stylists, and they make it a point to understand every customers’ unique style so they can make recommendations that work. This is why Barbara and Company has a long list of loyal customers; in Boulder, it’s nearly a cult institution. Even the staff stays for the long haul.
Barbara and Company first opened in Denver in 1983. The tiny store grew into a large and successful business big enough to expand to Boulder. It opened 1505 Pearl St. in 2008. It survived the market crash, evolved as fashion demands have changed and continues to thrive, says King.
King bought the store from the original owner (whose name was Barbara, hence the name of the store) about two decades ago. King says she kept the name because it was well-known and stood for something: customer service and a happy vibe.
“It’s always supposed to be happy and fun,” King says. “It should be positive when you walk in and when you leave.”
Shopping should be enjoyable, she says.
And this locally owned store provides an experience, things online retailers simply can’t promise.
“It’s a really important thing to feel it and try it on and have someone say ‘try it with this’ or ‘wear it with this in your wardrobe,’” King says. “It’s important that people walk out feeling comfortable with what they bought. I don’t like customers to be told they look good in something to just get a sale. It’s important to be honest and fair with people and send them out looking the best.”
Barbara and Company carries a wide assortment of different lines and styles, from contemporary to classic. Most things here are in style but not trendy, meaning they can stay in your wardrobe longer. They’re not cheap but they have staying power, which makes up for it.
Barbara and Company does carry some name-brand designers that fashion-forward shopper will recognize, as well as labels from Europe, Canada and Japan. As fitting for Boulder, the store also sells lines that specialize in organic fabrics. Also find jewelry, handbags and accessories (don’t miss the selection of scarves).
Expect a wide range of price points, too. It’s common to see an inexpensive T-shirt hanging next to a pricey cashmere sweater.
But overall, the store has become more casual over the years, driven by Boulder’s demand.
“We have a much wider assortment of separate tops than we ever did before and separate pants,” King says.
As part of staying connected to Boulder, Barbara and Company makes an effort to support the community by supporting groups like CU Presents, the Boulder International Film Festival and more.
It all comes back to that intention that started the company to begin with, King says: connection with the customers naturally extends to connection with the greater community.