Holiday Attire at Clairvaux

Joni Johnson, owner of Clairvaux, opens up second location in Johnson County

Clairvaux is an inspirational fashion destination that offers a wide variety of clothing, shoes, handbags, accessories and gifts from over 100 emerging and heritage designers for all ages. Named after French saint Bernard of Clairvaux, the boutique’s French influence mixed with California’s relaxed style was the perfect combination to bring locally. 

Owner Joni Johnson has been in the Kansas City fashion scene for over 20 years, using her experience to bring Clairvaux into realization.

“In college, I worked as a sales associate for Abercrombie and Fitch and loved the fast-paced environment. From merchandising, music, down to the smell, they were building the biggest brand of the late 90’s. Looking back, I see how much I took away now owning my own store. After college, I moved to Kansas City and worked at a newly opened local boutique in Town Center called Standard Style. I was their fourth employee and experienced a lot of growth within my 15 years with them. Starting as a sales associate, I worked towards becoming their retail director and spent my final years as the head women’s buyer. Growing my career alongside their business, I had a unique experience of managing lots of facets of retail and enjoyed working across all aspects of the business.

“I was approached by a past client of mine, Nancy McCarthy, who asked if I had thought about creating my own concept. At the time, I was flattered but didn’t know if that was something that I wanted or that the city needed. It wasn’t until I was working as a freelance stylist, personal shopping for clients and pulling merchandise from stores all over the city that I saw a hole in the market. There were so many amazing designers who didn’t have any representation in Kansas City. I knew that I had a unique point of view and that I could add to the fashion landscape here. I developed my business plan and went back to Nancy, my now business partner, and two weeks later in February of 2020 I was in NYC buying for Clairvaux.”

Starting the business during the pandemic brought about the realization of how big the void was in the fashion market.

“Never in our wildest dreams did we think we would be opening a store in the middle of a pandemic. There were so many unknowns but we knew we needed to push through and open with so many other great stores closing during that time. Despite the obstacles and apprehension, we blazed on knowing we were building toward a brighter future. We opened by appointment only to follow COVID-19 protocol and sold 60% of our inventory the first week! After 18 months, we had outgrown our Fairway space and needed a bigger office space to accommodate our receiving and buying departments, as well as our newly launched E-commerce site. We saw a space at Hawthorne Plaza and knew it was the perfect opportunity to expand.”

Empowering women of all ages to live well, dress well is what drives the Clairvaux experience. 

“Most of our clients are between 30-70. With clients ranging from high school age to some in their 90’s, we always try to have something for everyone, at every price point. We identify the Clairvaux aesthetic as Parisian chic meets California cool, meaning we have great classic staples that define the style of Parisian women and fun trend pieces that define the creative California lifestyle.  No matter where your style falls, you will always find something—we believe great style at any age is so needed in our culture. Every season we break down the biggest trends per age group to address all of our clients. We love showing women how to stay relevant and buy fewer better pieces. It’s good for the planet, your wallet, and your individual style.”

Johnson travels the world to handpick everything in the store.

“I travel to New York and Los Angeles multiple times a year. We have plans to visit Copenhagen in August and look forward to experiencing a new world of designers, style, and bringing all of that back to the Midwest. Every season we follow inspiration and love finding products that improve the quality of life for ourselves and our clients. Whether it’s a lotion, an amazing smelling candle or the perfect pair of jeans, our passion is bringing together a store filled with our favorite things.”

Clairvaux has locations in both Fairway, Kansas at 2710 West 53rd Street and at Hawthorne Plaza in Overland Park at 11934 Roe Ave. For more information, visit shopclairvaux.com

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