We arrive at 49 Claremont Ave., address of The Secret Lounge. But it is a CVS. We enter the store and find a cashier who directs us to go around to the back of the building. There, she says, we will find a door.
“What,” she asks, “IS that place?”
Our investigation to discover an answer brings us to a door marked by a small sign that says “The Secret.” Up a flight of stairs and through a door, however, we find a delightful surprise in the boldly-decorated space decorated run by interior designer Lecia Clay of Montclair. “In designing it I wanted to create an oasis,” Clay says. “It was a fantasy, a dream, a thought. I planted the seed and turned it into a reality.”
Zebra-striped rugs and festive mixes of colors and shapes pervade just about every nook of the space’s five rooms. In the main room, scores of pieces of custom-made purses and jewelry — a snake and diamond dust bracelet anyone? — for sale line the walls.
Clay, a vivacious statuesque woman with the poise of a CEO, glides among the 30-odd women gathered that Wednesday night for the weekly Professional Women’s Night Out. Clay opened The Secret Lounge in 2009 to offer business networking events, as well as private styling, shopping, and small catered affairs created by chef Jesse Jones. There is even a well-appointed, yet cozy dining room that Clay calls “our private VIP room,” with a glass dining table and plush upholstered seats.
That night, in a small kitchen, guests noshed on a tray of smoked salmon and a delicious homemade guacamole with chips. Before author and motivational speaker Ariel Kan begins to speak to the women later in the evening, a group member rises from her chair and walks to Lecia, holding out before her an engraved crystal inspiration award. “For inspiring women,” says the woman as she wipes away tears. “With all that you take on, it is amazing.”
Clay’s focus is on empowering and inspiring women to achieve success — she’s created a non-profit called Women Who Win, and is a realtor with Weichert in West Orange in addition to her other roles. However, she welcomes men to enjoy The Secret Lounge, and many have visited, she says. It’s available for use as a party, business meeting and event space, as well as a store [open by appointment] and a place to get styling tips from Clay.
Friends can even make a fun outing while shopping there — by committing to buying at least $500 of merchandise. In exchange, Clay provides the venue with free food, drink and music. Says Clay: “I wanted everyone who walks through that door to have their own experience. We say that in The Secret, we are women who win. Because who doesn’t want to win?”
To check out The Secret Lounge, go to thesecretloungenj.com or contact Clay at email@example.com or call 973-744-0674.