“Roz says…” come on in.
Since 1998, the residents of Montclair have been privy to the comforts of Roz Connolly as a source of honest guidance throughout their fashion endeavors.
Located right on Bellevue Avenue, Connolly is now celebrating 20 years in business at her retail boutique, Co Co an experience.
“Roz has created in Co Co, a trend-setting retail store that features both mainstream designers as well as up-and-coming brands,” said long-time customer Maggie Magaldi.
Prior to Co Co, Connolly was a big fish in a small pond when she worked at a menswear company before it went out of business. Looking for her next step, she spent some time working at a nail salon before agreeing to go into the retail business with a friend.
However, a year and a half later, Connolly’s business partner decided that the retail world wasn’t for her.
“So, I became Co Co by myself, and there you go,” Connolly said. “20 years later, it feels like it was yesterday.”
With a deep love for fashion but little retail experience, Connolly took the challenge head on, making mistakes and learning along the way.
“Trial and error, girl!” Connolly said. “That’s how I learned.”
But Connolly certainly did something right. Now with 20 years of experience under her belt, she has developed a community of loyal customers that not only come in for her shop’s trendy pieces, but for her fabulous “Roz says” fashion opinion.
“We have three generations of customers now, the grandmother, the daughter and the daughter’s daughter,” Connolly said. “It’s been quite an experience that way and I’ve built great relationships and friends.”
For Magaldi, it’s Connolly’s warm and enthusiastic personality that has kept her and her mother, Judi Tilton, coming back for more.
“I love the business. I love being able to help people create an outfit or they bring in their own things and I help them put new things together with what they’ve got,” Connolly said.
Connolly has seen it all.
As part of her 20-year celebration, Co Co has displayed a retrospective storefront of Connolly’s personal clothing collection over the years, showcasing a visual representation of the evolution of fashion from the store’s opening in 1998 to 2018.
“When we first started, people were layering, layering, layering,” Connolly said. “Leisure has taken a big chunk out of that… since people are now very workout-minded, they wear a lot more casual clothing and the whole industry has moved to an overall more casual look. Even when you go to the theater now, I can remember people used to dress to the nines, they don’t do that any longer, just kind of casual and laid back.”
Connolly not only takes pride in the items she stocks in her fashion boutique, but in her ability to style her customers in a way that best showcases their own personality and brings out their confidence.
“There’s nothing like having someone look in that mirror and you can see how it makes them feel when they try something on that they know looks good on them,” Connolly said. “We want them to walk away feeling confident and positive and have a great experience.”
According to Magaldi, Connolly’s passion for fashion is apparent in her willingness to create opportunities for local designers to showcase their talents, setting Co Co apart from other retail boutiques.
“What I’ve learned is to be a really good listener… and try to give (customers) your interpretation of what it is they want,” Connolly said.
But most importantly, “to always be kind.”
Cheers to 20 years.
For more information on Co Co an experience, visit https://cocoanexperience.com or follow Co Co on instagram at @cocoanexperience