An Eye for Style and a Mind for Business: Phnewfula and The Red Lemon Store
A company merger isn’t exactly an inspiration point for most, but for Phnewfula it was the perfect opportunity. She was working at MCA records when it went through a merger, which provided her with about a month of downtime. She decided to utilize the time and pursue her plan of opening a clothing store. Instead of going out and looking for real estate for her store, Phnewfula started a website. Her innovative approach is what made her business a success. The Red Lemon Store is a one stop shopping destination with clothes, beauty products and great gifts. Phnewfula shows that with a little ingenuity, determination and style you can achieve your goal.
The Red Lemon Store
Los Angeles, California
Clark Atlanta University
Red Lemon Store owner
I’m a plethora. My blackness is swirled with Native American, Dutch, and West Indian.
About Red Lemon
The Red Lemon Store is a one stop shopping destination. We have clothes, beauty products, and great gifts. We try and make your time here an experience rather than just a place to shop!
What are your day-to-day responsibilities?
Everything is my responsibility! On an average day work I open the store, check and return phonecalls until about 4:30pm, sift through the website to make sure everything is on the up and up. I also take meetings with clothing lines. I also deal with payroll, scheduling, and anything employee related. Then I check my honey blog (www.theredlemonstore.com) and wrap my day up so I can go home!
How did you get started?
One day while working at MCA records we went through a merger that turned us into Geffen records. I had almost a month downtime and I had been planning on opening a clothing store for the past 3 years. I figured why not get started. I’ll just start online so I can learn how to actually run the business and learn the ins and outs. So that’s what I did. I took that month and flew to NY to meet with clothing lines, got all my paperwork together and started my website.
What’s the niche?
We put our personalities into everything. When your shopping online or in the store you’re not just a dollar sign to us. Hopefully you can feel our appreciation and eagerness to actually make YOU happy.
What made you decide to open up in West Hollywood?
After spending 10 years in the music business, I figured the best place to maximize my contacts would be LA. The spot in West Hollywood just happpened to be the spot that spoke up and said, “Hey this is home.” The city of West Hollywood great and business friendly.
What is the biggest challenge with have a shop in LA?
Everyone has a shop in LA. There are so many boutiques in LA you really have to work hard and love what you do to make your business stand out.
Who would you like to collaborate with?
I would love to do candle or sneaker collaboration. I could definitley do a Team Sexy Reebok. I love the 54.11s! I am also madly in love with Target. If I could do a Team Sexy for Target I think I’d be the happiest person on earth.
What is the biggest challange of running a clothing boutique?
Getting to know your customers. Being in West Hollywood I have a wide variety of customers, so I have to do my best to cater to all of them. It gets hard, but you have to pay attention and talk to people to see what they want.
Best way to stand out from other retailers?
Your guiding principle for Red Lemon
Customers come first. I tell my employees when I hire them I will fire you for not greeting a customer when he/she comes in the door. People have a choice where they want to shop and we want each customer to feel appreciated because they are!
How do you select designers to carry? Do you have any favorites?
I try to stay with what is hot, not to trendy because trends die fast. I get influences from everywhere, my employees have pulled a few lines in the store, so have my customers by request. I do have favorites, I’m a jeans and tee girl so I have a closet full of Habituals and James Jeans. For dresses, Nicole Miller will make you look and feel like a million bucks.
How do you measure your success? Do you have goals yet to be achieved?
I have tons of goals that are yet to be achieved. I don’t measure success. I measure happiness.
Best practical advice for people looking to get into the retail business
Get your mind right. It’s no where near as easy as it looks. You have to be in it because you love, not just to get clothes. Trust me, if that is your angle your better off buying your clothes at regular price then opening a boutique.
Supportive words from a family member or friend on your venture
Too many to mention. My mom and my sister have THE best words of wisdom ever. Those two could talk me off a cliff if I was trying to jump. When things get really hard for me I call them and they both tell me God hasn’t brought you this far to leave you. There couldn’t be more truth every spoken.
As for my friends we have a group called the BOA, Board of Advisors. We all help each other in whatever venture we have however we can. Just having those women there as a support system has also been a favor from God.
Mentor(s) and why?
I can’t say that I have a mentor in particular. There are a few people that I have gained valuable knowledge from that has helped me through my life journey.
- Chaka Zulu – CEO Ebony Son also Ludacris’ manager
- Jerrell Allen – CEO Midnight Marauders my first boss in the music biz
- Garnett March – Senior VP of Black Music Interscope
- Kathy Brown – she has some new improved title at Radio One
- Cynthia Jonson – Promotions Diva
- The entire city of Atlanta
- And last but not least my Dad Wayne Moore – Daddy of the century
Do you have any favorite clientele?
All of my customers are my favorites.
Like best about what you do?
Being able to help people. I love knowing that I am contributing something to someone, be it my employees, and/or my customers.
Like least about what you do?
There is no dislike.
At age 10, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I have no idea. At age 13 I KNEW I was Naomi Campbell. I didn’t realize I wasn’t until maybe 16-17.
What was your first job?
Paying job with taxes? I worked at a Japanese shipyard.
Biggest pastime outside of work
Couchtime! By the time I get off work the couch is my best friend. After couchtime I would say eating out with my friends.
Person most interested in meeting and why?
I hate to sound like everyone else but I would have to say Oprah. For several different reasons. One to just tell her thank you, her influence has changed the way people view black women. I also need to hug her for “The Color Purple.” I want to just sit down and have a conversation with her so she can see what the positive side of hip hop is. That its not all bad and derogatory. I’m a product of the hip hop culture and I’m a successful business owner. We are not all bad. Maybe I can help change her views on that.
Where did th name Red Lemon come from?
My sister and I made it up. We are WestIindian and my dad has many kids, so we’ve always called ourselves the queens of the starfruit clan. We figured most Americans wouldn’t know what a starfruit was so we bounced around names and colors and came up with Red Lemon. My friend Sam was in on the naming ceremony but she kept coming up with corny names so we kicked her out, haha.
Three interesting facts about yourself
- I have 0 artistic ability
- I love to dance, and cook
- I’m about as spoiled as they get.
Three characteristics that describe you
Three greatest passions
- Trying to get people to eat right!
- The enviornment
- My family
Rverything will be allright.
I have a lot of causes. I just don’t have the time to dedicate to them all. I’ve tried to do what I can for foster children. They are kids who go through so much and didn’t ask to be put in their situations. The enviornment, we have to save it. If we don’t our kids will be wearing gas masks. Health. I wish all fast food restaurants would burn down and stop the death train.
- Us Weekly
- Harper’s Bazaar
Imitation of Life
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Thank you for taking the interest in me and my humble store.
Interview by Elisha Greenwell
Introduction by Sabine Alam
Edited by Sabine Alam