Fiore Blossoms in La Jolla

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New specialty boutique, featuring exclusive, high-end Italian bath, body, beauty, and fragrances, plants roots in the upscale seaside community of La Jolla, California. Exquisite quality, a tasteful, well presented selection, along with unbeatable holiday offers make this e-tailer/retailer a must-try.

La Jolla's Fiore Boutique is in full bloom, and gearing up for the Christmas holiday.

This couple-owned boutique in La Jolla, California takes its name from the Italian word (and concept) of "fiore" which translates roughly to "flower, bloom, (and/or,) to blossom." And that’s exactly what owners Doug and Suni Gargaro have in mind for their 2-year-young upstart; to nurture this quaint, tasteful little gem of a specialty boutique into a thriving body-care industry presence, both online and off.

Doug's Italian heritage, and an appreciation of Italian culture, design, and values shared by the couple, were the spark that ignited the Fiore phenomenon. What makes their concept unique is both the Italian theme (expressed with charm and style at their brick and mortar boutique) and the particular combination of product lines they bring to the table.

Many of the lines found at Fiore are seemingly unattainable outside of Italy, or at the very least, are generally hard to find. Acca Kappa, Santa Maria Novella, La Ragazza di Firenze, Mario Russo, Lorenzo Villoresi are among the most noteworthy (and fabuloso.) And perhaps more important than whether any particular line can be found elsewhere, is the particular mix they have brought together, which truly sets Fiore apart from fold of more typical retailers in their market.

"Exclusivity is a top priority for me. I don't just carry every line out there" says proprietor and co-founder, Suni Jacob-Gargaro. "I try everything first, and that basically means testing it out, looking at ingredients, and making sure that the line is every bit as good for the body as it is enjoyable to the senses. I have to love it and know it's special, based on an extensive criteria, or else I won't carry it."

Once you've spoken in person with Suni, it really is easy to believe her. Her knowledge, energy, and above all, her enthusiasm for the products she carries is almost uncanny. Get her started, and you'll likely be occupied for quite a while.

"Supermarket soaps are detergent based, and that’s one of the worst things you can put on your skin. All of our soaps, whether Acca Kappa, Cali, or my absolute favorite, Santa Maria Novella, have completely natural bases. They are triple milled, made with ingredients like pear, olive oil, shea butter, and even pure whole milk." Suni proclaims that with ingredients like these, her soaps are actually very good for you, and can improve the look and (literally) feel of your skin.

Santa Maria Novella (one of Suni's favorites) has an exceptionally charming history. To this day, as it has for hundreds of years, these fragrances, soaps and other apocathary products, have been hand made, even hand wrapped and packaged, by a monastical order in Italy. Each bottle of fragrance, and every bar of soap has been blessed with the touch of an Italian Benedictine Monk. If that isn't pure old world charm, I don't know what is.

"Calycanthus by Acca Kappa was the fragrance that inspired Doug and I to create Fiore. The line is made with a particular (calycanthus) flower indigenous to the Veneto region of Italy, and it really is unique..."

Acca Kappa was the very first manufacturer Fiore founders Doug and Suni forged a business relationship with prior to opening their doors in Feburary of 2004. The couple was on vacation in Las Vegas at the Venetian Hotel, where they accidentally walked into a boutique featuring this exceptional product line, steeped in a rich history and Italian flair for all that is pleasing to the senses.

"We had been looking into entrepreneurial ventures, because we both had always wanted to create something that gave us ownership ... something that would outlast us and with any luck, our (future) children..." And with an example like Acca Kappa to follow, a company in its fifth generation of family ownership, they are getting off to a good start.

Suni left an enviable career as a Systems Analyst in the wireless telecommunications field, to pursue the "American Dream" of entrepreneurial freedom. "It had to be something she (Suni) loved, because by design, our business was going replace her full-time career. She was fed up with the stress of corporate rat-race culture" says Doug, San Diego architect whose role in the business has been primarily one of behind the scenes management, including oversight of Fiore's web presence.

Love she did, and her hubby concurred. The light bulb went on, and they never looked back, except for an occasional introspective moment: "It is pretty amazing looking back on it" says Suni. "We knew very little about retail, and all we had was motivation and a thirst to do something we could be proud of. Somehow, we managed to convey that (to Acca Kappa), and they agreed to be our first supplier... Now, we are one of their best clients."

So, what's lies ahead for this fledgling blossom of an online / offline boutique?

In Suni's words, "The thing that is best about this business are the relationships we have with our core clientel. They are more like a circle of friends or maybe even extended family, than customers."

The couple plans to build on the concept of creating and nurturing relationships. They are currently working towards certification as Yoga instructors, and have plans to integrate Yoga instruction along with a full service spa, to compliment their retail concept.

Whatever they do next, likely it will draw on the same core ingredients that already distinguishes their inspired boutique: "Fede, Speranza, Amore".

(Translation: "Faith, Hope, Love.")

Fiore di Italia can be reached at 1-888-FIORE-US

Interview and Article by Jennifer Trudore, freelance writer from Solana Beach, CA

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