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It's a girl: Cortland woman brings fashion industry to Skaneateles with Emma James Boutique
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It's a girl: Cortland woman brings fashion industry to Skaneateles with Emma James Boutique


SKANEATELES | If Lisa Dietz and her husband, Jake, have a baby girl someday, they plan to name their daughter Emma James.

In the meantime, though, the Cortland couple decided to hold off on having a baby for at least another year as Lisa Dietz opens her fashion clothing store at 46 E. Genesee St. in Skaneateles, the location of the former village hall that currently houses the Fingerlakes Luxury Homes vacation rentals.

Meanwhile, Dietz chose to lend the name of her future daughter to the name of her new shop — and the Emma James Boutique was born.

"This is our baby, and that's where it (the name) comes from," Dietz said the day before it officially opened last Saturday.

Skaneateles Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Tara Lynn and a contingent of nearby business owners visited the boutique Jan. 15 to host a ribbon-cutting ceremony ahead of its first official day of business and welcome the Dietzes and their clothing store to the community.

As Jake Dietz held one of the ribbon and Sarah Panzarella, of the Imagine art gallery, held the other, Lynn handed Lisa Dietz a plaque commemorating the shop's opening and offered words of support.

Dietz then used a pair of her own scissors to cut the ribbon and ceremonially open the boutique.

As Lynn and the Chamber members started looking at the clothes — Dietz said she had not used the cash register yet, so they were more than happy to help out by making a purchase — Dietz talked about starting the business that she said had been her dream since she was a teenager.

Originally from Long Island, Dietz said she attended the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, where she studied fashion merchandise management. She then worked as an assistant buyer for Century 21 before overseeing the merchandising for 14 Ralph Lauren stores.

She also created window displays for Bloomingdale's, and then she served as a manager for Old Navy and H&M when she and her husband came to central New York about 4.5 years ago. They moved to Cortland because of a change in his job, and she set her sights on having her own store.

Gaining experience in merchandising and management, she said, helped her gain the confidence and skills needed to go into business herself.

"It helps having my foot in the door in a little bit of everything," Dietz said.

Dietz said she secured the East Genesee Street storefront for the Emma James Boutique in October and moved in two weeks before the opening. Though she acknowledged that she "crunched time a little bit," she said having her own store was something she thought about for awhile.

Though there are clothing stores throughout Skaneateles and the vicinity, Dietz said there is not anything focused on the fashion industry, so she wanted to add that. She added that she prefers boutiques to retail stores.

When the Dietzes first moved to the area, Lisa Dietz said she initially could not find the space for her own store until she came through Skaneateles and saw the available opening.

"It's always been a dream of mine," Dietz said, noting that she had to develop an idea for a store during her time at FIT. "I've had a business plan for this since I was 18."

In the boutique's inventory, she said she strives for "definitely a classic look" that incorporates lace or crocheted material, for example, and brings an elegant style at an affordable price.

"Something that isn't too bold," she said, but still makes people want to ask somebody where she got her shirt. "Something that stands out from a mall store."

Dietz said she targets the age 25-45 demographic in the styles that the boutique carries, and BB Dakota is among her favorite brands in terms of higher-end merchandise. She attended the New York City FAME Show to get an idea of the clothing she wanted to include in her store.

"I just went and I met the vendors and I looked at the merchandise and I picked out what I wanted for what I'm looking for," Dietz said.

Living in Cortland, Dietz said she visited Skaneateles with her friends or her husband and often wanted to "pop into a boutique and just buy something," but being younger, she could not afford the high-end clothing.

With that in mind, she said she wants her boutique to cater to the younger generation like her that wants to do same thing — purchase a piece of fashion but so at a price they can afford.

And it is so far, so good for the Emma James Boutique — Dietz said people have been knocking on the windows and wanting to stop in to check out the new business even though it was not ready to be open just yet.

"We've had really positive feedback so far, so it gets me really excited," she said. "The traffic through here is incredible, and this spot is killer."

Skaneateles Journal Editor Jonathan Monfiletto can be reached at or (315) 283-1615. Follow him on Twitter @Skan_Monfiletto.


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