In Orange County, California, there’s Fetneh Blake, the person, and Fetneh Blake, the boutique. The latter is a strikingly accurate representation of the former: small, sleek, tastefully put together and a standout in the stereotypical Laguna Beach fashion scene (think yoga outfits and casual sweat pants and hoodies).
Blake—the person—grew up in Iran and Washington, D.C., before moving to the West Coast 25 years ago. “The first time I walked through Laguna Beach, I didn’t have a job, I didn’t know what I was going to be doing,” she recalls. “All I knew was that I loved this little town, and I had this dream, at that moment, that I wanted to have my own business.”
Her first venture was as part owner (with her now-ex-husband) of a contemporary art gallery, but that didn’t fully satiate her lifelong love of beautiful things—in particular, beautiful clothing.
“My father was a commercial pilot and would bring me back pretty clothes from all over the world, and my mother handmade my dresses,” she says. In 2001, Blake opened her eponymous shop with the unique mission of curating not necessarily the most in-demand designer apparel but the most unique, well-crafted, soon-to-be “it” pieces.
Soon, she was carrying lines by Rick Owens and Olivier Theyskens—fashion A-listers today but relative unknowns 13 years ago when she discovered them. These days, Blake no longer stocks her friend Owens’ clothing: He’s doing fine without her. She favors smaller brands, like the rocker-chic threads of If Six Was Nine, which she has carried for the past few seasons and will continue to do so. But she’s always looking for someone new who catches her sophisticated eye. Once Blake discovers such untapped talent, she usually becomes the exclusive Orange County retailer for the line, a deal that makes Fetneh Blake, the store, a shopping destination in its own right for clients across the region and beyond. “It’s a small store,” she says confidently, “but it delivers big.”