Claudette’s in Old Greenwich is a regulars stop for Greenwich fashionistas looking for a curated selection of designer clothes, bags and accessories, as well as gifts for men and kids. This week’s Meet a Mom is Claudette’s stylish owner, Claudette Rothman! While she never had biological children, she raised her niece and nephew in Greenwich. Here’s a bit more about her unique path to parenthood, her life in Greenwich and her Sound Beach Avenue business:
Can you please tell us a little bit about your life in Greenwich and unique path to being a “mom”?
I live in Old Greenwich, close to Tod’s Point with my husband of 33 years and his name is Gary. My husband and I do not have kids, but 19 years ago—we were living in Backcountry Greenwich at the time—our niece and nephew came to live with us. We went from not having or wanting any kids to all of a sudden having two kids living with us. It’s an interesting story as to how they came to live with us. The kids are my sister’s children.
They were living in Brooklyn with their mother and although they were attending private school, they were still in classrooms with over 30 students. We knew if these two people kids were going to flourish in society they needed to be in smaller classrooms so the family made the decision that we would raise them.
Funny story…when my nephew was in 5th Grade at Parkway he came home one day and said “Auntie Claudette, a kid in my class invited the entire class on her private jet for spring break; only people on TV have private planes.” I said to him “welcome to Greenwich.”
Ha, too funny. What are they doing now?
Our nephew, Joseph, is now in the financial industry and has a staff of 120 people. Our niece, who is a Fulbright scholar, is an immigration attorney. We are very proud of both of them!
Wow, those are very impressive resumes. How long has your business been open in Greenwich?
It was out of necessity that I opened my first store in Cos Cob in 2012. My husband and I were in the real estate industry (we built spec homes), but in 2008 when the market crashed we lost a lot and I needed a job. I knew I did not want to return to corporate America and I did not want to commute into the city. Deciding what I did not want to do was the easy part. Figuring out what I wanted to do was not that easy.
Can you tell us a bit more about your background before?
I had also worked as in executive in both the fashion industry and technology for many years, so the question was, which one do I return to…or do I get into a completely different industry. The fashion industry won—that’s what I went to college for [at FIT].
So, getting back to my first store in Cos Cob, although I was in the fashion industry for many years, I always worked for large companies, so I wasn’t sure I would like or even know how to run a store on my own. I decided to rent a tiny spot on Putnam Ave. Within a year I quickly outgrew that tiny space so I opened a second store within the Greenwich Hyatt hotel.
And you eventually consolidated in Old Greenwich?
Yes. Going back and forth between too much so I eventually closed the Cos Cob store. Things were going great in the Hyatt until my rent was raised more per square foot than Greenwich Ave. and although I was doing great in the hotel, it just didn’t make sense to pay more than the going rate on the Ave. So, one day I was going to Tod’s Point and I saw a “For Rent” sign posted on a store front with a beautiful courtyard and I knew it was the home for my next store. July of this year is my 6th year at 177 Sound Beach Ave.
It’s such a perfect location! For anyone who isn’t familiar, can you please describe your store?
As I mentioned before, I have a ton of experience in the fashion industry, and I also went to college for fashion. I went to the Fashion Industry of Technology. Because there are so many women’s clothing stores in Greenwich, I knew I had to be different if I wanted to stand out. So while most small retailers in town go to the trade shows at the Javits Center, which I do also, I go to some of the top fashion shows during New York Fashion Week, Paris Fashion Week and London Fashion Week for inspiration. One designer I found during one such show was Edward Achour Paris. This is a very classic Chanel look at a fraction of the Chanel price. Saks Fifth Ave used to carry this designer online but as of last season, I’m the only store in Fairfield County selling it.
Two others brands I carry, which you tend not to see in smaller stores, are Escada and Elie Tahari. These are classic brands that are constantly changing with the times.
Because my store is on the way to Tod’s Point during the summer I like it keep things very fun and resort [inspired]. For the more mature people I carry Tommy Bahama and Jude Connally and for the younger people I carry Sail to Sable, Southern Tide, Mahi Gold. I recent added some lingerie and a gift section.
Such a wonderful selection for all women. How was this community contributed to your success?
A good example of how the community has contributed to my success is the love and support I received from many people during the mandatory CIVID-19 shutdown. I’ve always had an e-commerce site and while I was closed I received lots of orders and notes from locals who wanted to make sure I survived the pandemic. One customer wrote on her order “I really don’t need anything, but I want to make sure you’re ok.”
Love that! We also love to support local businesses. Can you please share your favorite places locally to:
Joe Studio in OG