Jenni Kayne at Brentwood Country Mart
By Emili Vesilind
Designer Jenni Kayne has always lived her life in fast-forward. The native Angeleno launched her eponymous ready-to-wear collection at 19, an age when most people are still trying to figure out what they want to be when they grow up.
By 25 she had opened her first namesake branded boutique, a lofty, light-infused space in West Hollywood. And at 26 she had her first child, son Tanner, and quickly followed up with her daughter, Ripley, with husband Richard Ehrlich, real estate agent to stars like John Krasinski and Vera Wang.
Now 30, Kayne, who lives in Beverly Hills, has recently opened her second eponymous boutique, this time at the sunny, stylish Brentwood Country Mart.
The new shop stocks the designer’s sportswear-inspired apparel, along with a bevy of accessory and home collections Kayne feels personally connected to—including cool-kid bags by Proenza Schouler, fashion-forward sunglasses by Benjamin Eyewear, alpaca wool teddy bears and knit booties for kids, and directional jewelry by All for the Mountain, Mannin Fine Jewelry, and Irit Design, among others.
The space itself is reminiscent of Kayne’s WeHo store, only lighter and brighter. “I wanted it to feel a little cleaner since it’s closer to the beach, so everything’s more white-washed,” she noted.
While Kayne has hit life’s major benchmarks more quickly than most, she prefers to take things slowly when it comes to growing her business.
“I’ve always had plans to open multiple stores,” she said. “But I wanted to give everything time to grow organically for the store to become profitable.” She’s had her sights set on the Brentwood Country Mart for two years—“I have a clientele in LA that doesn’t necessarily cross the 405”—but had to wait for a space to open up (the store inhabits the old Calypso St. Barth space). “I got the call from the Mart and within minutes we were getting the lease. My patience really paid off.”
Kayne, who dresses in a daily uniform of high-waisted jeans from Acne or J Brand and a button-down shirt and flats from her own collection, wanted to keep the integrity of the original space, so wooden ceiling beams were simply painted and recycled bamboo display pieces brought in to display clothing, accessories, and shoes.
The downtown-prepster feel of Kayne’s collections has remained remarkably consistent over the decade she’s been in business. Classic American sportswear, tweaked for leather jacket-wearing urbanites, is at the core of Kayne’s aesthetics.
“I strive to make timeless clothes that feel new and cool, and that girls want to wear at every age. I want clothes that are practical, but I also want to look chic at the same time.”
Motherhood, which Kayne characterizes as “a constant juggling act,” is a perennial source of inspiration for Rip+Tan, the Goop-style blog she writes entirely on her own. She also cites the terrain and golden sunlight of her native Southern California (she’s an avid gardener after all): “The landscape is so amazing here, there’s just so much to draw from. I’m always inspired by my surroundings.”
Kayne’s Jenni Kayne Resort 2013 collection, which is full of kicky, tailored basics in ’80s-inspired whites and pastels, “definitely touched on California beach culture,” she said.
Kayne, who names RRL, Isabel Marant, and Céline among her favorite brands, anticipates opening other stores in the future, but only when her existing properties have had time to mature. She’s currently focused on growing her shoe business, which took off like a rocket last year after she introduced the D’Orsay flat, a pragmatic, slipperlike shoe with open sides and a pointed toe.
“My shoes are on fire, and I’m so excited about it,” she said. “We’ve already sold out of the spring styles, and we get hundreds of e-mails and phone calls about them. That’s where it’s at for me right now.”
When Kayne first opened her West Hollywood store, she aspired to evolve her line into a lifestyle brand, encompassing dozens of categories, from home to dishware. But motherhood has tempered her ambitions. “Since having kids, I feel like I’m so hands-on and everything visually is so important to me,” she said. “I’d rather curate the best of other brands in my stores than spread myself too thin.”
PHOTOGRAPHY BY CHRIS FORTUNA; MICHAEL BUCKNER/WIRE IMAGE/GETTY IMAGES (RITTER)