Connie Frederick is in the business of keeping Excelsior fashionable. Her women's clothing store, Ooh La La, has been a fashion mainstay in the Lake Minnetonka community for 17 years. Frederick says her store is focused on providing women with apparel and accessory choices that they won't find anywhere else, as well as providing goods that are made in the United States. Affordability is also key, she says.
“We've done a lot of work to find clothing made in the United States that is both trendy and fairly priced,” Frederick says. “At this point, a lot of vendors actually seek us out because we've been around in the community for so long.”
Although Ooh La La stocks clothing and accessories for all ages and occasions, the store has also made a name for itself by offering custom-decorated rhinestone apparel. The motivation for the custom clothing came after a few years in the business, when Frederick says she noticed a significant lack of fun, cute sports apparel for women.
“Really all you could get was an oversized jersey,” she explains. “There were no cute jackets or shirts specifically for women, and especially not in youth sizes.” About 12 years ago, Frederick says she began experimenting with some designs for clothing with logos made of rhinestones, and started carrying them in her store.
“The women started flocking to us because this was something you couldn't find anywhere else,” she says.
School teams, dance teams in particular, have been a booming source of business for the rhinestone apparel Ooh La La makes. In fact, Frederick says that Ooh La La works with more than 500 schools in Minnesota and throughout the United States. Local schools include Minnetonka, Chaska and Eden Prairie, among many others.
The design and manufacture of Ooh La La’s rhinestone clothing is all done in-house, says Frederick. She works with schools, organizations and individuals on the design, which is then made to order at the store’s manufacturing facility in Tonka Bay. Frederick says that hers is one of the only stores around that operates as a combination of wholesale and retails, working directly with schools and teams to provide custom rhinestone logo apparel, and selling a more limited selection of similar clothing in its brick-and-mortar location.
“Women and girls have just really loved the rhinestone items we offer,” Frederick says. “They keep coming back for more.”
One such satisfied customer is Elisabeth Trach, whose daughter Hannah danced on the Minnetonka High School dance team between 2009 and 2013. Trach worked directly with Frederick frequently on behalf of the dance team during the years Hannah was in high school.
“Connie is always so easy to work with,” Trach says. “She is flexible and willing to work closely with schools and teams to get the best results.”
Another benefit of working with Ooh La La, Trach says, is the store's community-minded attitude. While her daughter danced for Minnetonka, Trach says, the team would put on a kids’ dance clinic where the high school dancers would coach younger girls. Frederick designed and supplied custom shirts at cost, Trach says.
“The kids’ shirts had the same logo as the dance team, and said ‘future Skipperette’ [the name of the Lake Minnetonka team] on the back,” she says. “It made the younger girls feel very excited and included, and Connie supplied the shirts at cost so we could give them to the girls included with their clinic fee.”
This isn’t the only time Ooh La La has invested in the community. The store has provided custom logo wear for several local organizations, and participates in the Girls Night Out fashion show, which is an annual event in Excelsior. All proceeds from the event benefit Ready for Success, a Minneapolis-based nonprofit that provides low-income individuals with clothing and accessories for job interviews.
Trach says this investment in the community makes Ooh La La a pleasure to do business with. It doesn’t hurt that Frederick's designs are “cute and wearable.”
“I still wear the shirt from when Hannah was on the dance team,” Trach says. “Connie’s designs are just so much fun.”
Ooh La La
274 Water St., Excelsior