What started as a small website in her dad’s garage has now grown into a full-blown storefront for Hilmar native Stephanie Torres, who recently opened the first brick-and-mortar location for her boutique California Couture in downtown Turlock.
Soon after graduating from Hilmar High School in 2014, Torres launched the online version of her boutique at just 20 years old. Thousands of Instagram followers and countless customers from across the country later, in January she received the keys to her first storefront in the downtown core where Cindy’s Doodads used to be.
“There are so many things that are different from just being online. I love them both equally, but it’s so cool to have all of the clothes hung up. I get to come to work every day and unlock my store,” Torres said.
Now instead of shipping off packages throughout the state and country, the new business owner is able to meet customers face to face and help them find styles they love, whether it’s a dress for a bridal shower or a cute top to wear on a date.
Thanks to her love of high fashion, Torres settled on the name California Couture and felt it best described her wide selection of dresses, blouses, jeans and accessories. She’s welcomed longtime customers into her new space who have followed her business online for years, as well as out-of-town visitors and Turlockers alike who are discovering her boutique for the first time.
Though she worked in the service industry to fund her business when it was solely online, she’s now working at her boutique full time in what she describes as a leap of faith.
“If I’m being honest, I was very nervous and thought, ‘What am I doing?’ I’ve always had that safety blanket of having a full-time job, but it was time to cut off the baby blanket and decide this is what I really want to do,” Torres said.
This year, Torres will celebrate five years of California Couture as she embarks on the new adventure of being a downtown Turlock business owner.
“It’s so cool to be on Main Street because I’m part of the community,” she said. “This can be a slow time for business, but I’ve had so much support from customers and am loving it.”
Location: 115 W. Main St. in Turlock
Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday