Monday, January 7, 2013


With 2013 just getting under way, we here at Maria Luisa – both the flagship Maria Luisa Boutique and its satellite, ML Gifts & Accessories – again wish you all the best for the new year. 2012 was a pivotal year for us, so we wanted to take a moment to again reflect on some of the things that came to pass, while also letting you know about what’s planned for this new year. As you likely well know, we kicked off our 25th anniversary celebration in October. Yes, Maria Luisa Whittingham opened the doors of her boutique back in 1987, making her one of Nyack’s true retail veterans. This year was filled with quite a few milestones, actually. When Maria first settled into the space that now houses ML Gifts & Accessories, she saw the possibilities that its lower level held.
And this year, those possibilities started to become realities. With the start of “Ladies’ Night: The Maria Luisa Way,” that lower-level gallery space was transformed month after month. Evening gatherings drew anywhere from a handful to standing-room only groups that were on hand for documentary films, female-empowerment presentations, movement workshops, beauty and pro-age demonstrations, book readings and quite a few art-show openings. Across the board, there was a sense of community and connection, something to be built on as the signature series continues in 2013. (And please note, it might be called ladies’ night but we had more than a few gentlemen participants, along with some very well-behaved children). The official re-launching of our website was another high point, a sign of the commitment to growth and serving our customers in the most efficient way. The site is also the destination for the Maria Luisa gift certificate, something that is being purchased not only by locals but also by those from other parts of the country who want to send the recipients to their favorite local shop to pick out something special. Stay tuned as we add more merchandise online as the year progresses.
Check it out, too, for our community calendar designed to help you stay plugged into a wealth of cultural and social events and activities. And of course, we continue to develop our social-media presence with a very active Facebook page, in addition to updates on Twitter. These improvements, of course, cost money – and Maria has always been one to invest back into her business. But it was when she was selected to host a contingent of politicians in late August that the status of funding for small businesses was put in the spotlight.
In an event that drew a large group of local small business owners and quite a bit of media attention, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, U.S. Rep. Nita Lowey and Nyack Mayor Jen Laird-White were on hand to officially make a push for legislation that will extend tax breaks for small businesses. It was an important moment for spreading the word, while also being an honor for Maria Luisa Boutique to serve as its host.
A special day (and night) was the one back in October when the 25th anniversary was officially launched. We were floored (and thrilled) by just how many customers, longtime and more recent, stopped by throughout. It was a chance to catch up, to celebrate and really reflect on the shops’ place both in the community and in peoples’ lives. We thank you for your continued support. That support, of course, was something relied on during the tougher days of the year, the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy and its effects on us all both personally and professionally and the tragedy of the Newtown shootings, an event that hit very close to home. When such major events happen, we again realize how much of a community we have built here, one of the most rewarding aspects of this business.
And while she would never be one to promote herself, Maria Luisa Whittingham had a year filled with recognition. Honors came from the Rockland Business Women's Network, The Nyack Center and The Center for Safety & Change, formerly The Rockland Family Shelter. All serve as testament to her enduring commitment to the community, a theme that runs through all she does. It’s evidenced from her being one of the earliest retailers for
TOMS (which, for every pair of shoes sold, gives a pair of shoes to those in need) to local event such as special fund-raising shopping nights for places such as The Nyack Center. Anyone who has shopped at Maria Luisa knows how important teamwork is. Maria is pleased to have a great team of sales associates in place, headed up by the management team of Denise and Ruth. Denise is the manager for both the boutique and ML Gifts, while Ruth takes care of the day-to-day operations at the accessories shop. She also works closely with Ruth on sales, marketing and customer relations for both shops. Overall, we think we have a team in place that knows what customers want – and deserve.
It’s a friendly team that is truly professional, always efficient and a great reflection of what we do here. As we close the holiday season and begin to truly embrace 2013 we thank you again for your support throughout the years, look forward to bringing you even more unique fashions, accessories and gifts and hope you’ll join us as our anniversary celebrations continue. Here’s to the next 25 years. — Mary Shustack, Maria Luisa newsletter editor.

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