LiLi The First, a women’s boutique in Georgetown, specializes in small and unique collections with one of a kind pieces, all made by emerging designers who pay great attention to detail and quality. Owner Ifat Pridan has a mission: to encourage women to discover their individual style and she’s usually on hand to help each client do just that.
Ifat spent 20 years in corporate IT, before deciding to follow her passion and open a boutique to help women, no matter their size, feel strong and confident. Her first store was in Virginia before moving to her present location in Georgetown.
Ifat is equally passionate about women’s empowerment. Clients are encouraged to donate their gently used clothing to the boutique’s Fashion Support each located in the store. All proceeds from sales of those goods go to the Women’s Center which provides counseling, training, and education to women in need.
Can you point to one event that triggered your interest in your career?
I was always fascinated by the impact that fashion has on our lives. Even if you don’t consider yourself as fashionista, you still make a daily style choice that impacts your attitude and your confidence which is a reflection of your personality. Friends taking me shopping with them before an interview, a first date or asking for a style advice was just the beginning of my dream to open a boutique.
What about this career choice did you find most appealing?
The relationships I have with my customers are very important to me. I want women to celebrate their bodies, enjoy their shopping experience and feel like they are in a personal styling session, where we explore choices together. Receiving an email or picture with an outfit we chose together is a priceless award to me!
What steps did you take to begin your education or training?
While still working as a full time senior IT Project Manager, I started to work at a large clothing shop on the weekends, so I could immerse myself in the operational side of a retail. It gave me an opportunity to learn but also understand how I want my boutique to be different.
Along the way, were people encouraging or discouraging?
In all facets of life you will come across both positive and negative opinions, but the people who were close to me were (and still are) super supportive. I have always been a go getter and a great believer in a positive energy.
Did you ever doubt your decision and attempt a career change?
I would call it a “what have I done” moment, and it happens at least once a day! As a small business owner, you experience so many challenges, obstacles and surprises, and you are really the only one to take care of everything. Leaving a steady job and a career is a risk, but it worth every moment and I never regret it!
When did your career reach a tipping point?
Relocating the boutique from a Virginia suburb to Georgetown opened the door to more international and diverse women who strive to individualism with their look, it was the perfect move.
Can you describe a challenge you had to overcome?
Finding up and coming unique designers who are providing an upscale, sophisticated collections and yet, wish to remain in the boutiques arena and not to be sold by one of the large department/chain store is one of my biggest challenges. The search never ends, but it worth it, there is always a great story and passion behind each one of them which customer love to hear about!
What single skill has proven to be most useful?
Being honest!! Most women need a feedback about a new piece of clothing they are trying and will appreciate and respect an honest opinion. I see that as the best customer service I can provide.
What accomplishment are you most proud of?
I am so proud of my philanthropy in working and helping The Women’s Center. I have dedicated the “Fashion support” rack for that purpose, where women can donate their gently used chic clothes, I sell them and donate the full purchase price to support women in my community. I am excited that a small business can make such huge impact on women’s lives.
Any advice for others entering your profession?
As a small retail business, you need to focus on your passion and what makes you unique and stick with it.
Lili the First
1419 Wisconsin Avenue, NW
Georgetown, Washington, DC