After high school Kerry Cassill, of Laguna Beach’s Lala Boutique, went to design school. She wanted to be a designer and was inspired by all the beauty she had grown up around: her grandmother’s antique collections, the gorgeous scenery of her hometown of Seattle, the fashion she had always felt an affinity with. As she was finishing school however, her class went on a trip to the local factories to tour some of the potential places a young designer could get a job post-graduation. “It was a lot of ski-wear and denim. I was mortified,” explains a still-mortified Kerry.
She quickly realized that factory-life wasn’t for her and she was going to need a new game plan. She poured herself into her favorite class, hat-making, and even created a successful little hat shop in Seattle.
But then a trip to France changed everything. “I went to Paris and fell in love with Indian textiles. I bought a few pieces and from that day on I was just obsessed, like, are-you-ever-going-to-talk-about-anything-else? type of obsessed,” she laughs. She knew she had to get in the textile business. It took a couple of years but she tracked down a source in India and took yet another life-changing trip.
One day while on a run to buy some yardage she was asked by the local seamstresses what was it that she wanted to make. When she explained that she had a pattern of a blouse, but was only there for 10 days, they laughed and told her the time restraint was no problem. Sure enough, the women tackled her idea with fervor and a few days later Kerry flew home with a stack of perfect blouses (specifically in a design Kerry called the “Rocker” shirt— long-sleeved, cuffed, with pearl buttons, french seams, and beautiful stitching). Once back in the States Kerry approached stores in Seattle, San Francisco, and Santa Barbara where the Rocker shirt was very well-received. She sold out fast and promptly went back to India with twice as much money.
A couple trips back and forth and Kerry Cassill officially had a new business. She knew good stores, and good stores shop good stores, so her products were going to the right places and getting in the hands of the right people. There was a demand for more. Five years after creating her brand, she fell in love with the light of Laguna Beach and decided that it was the place she was to set up shop. She opened a boutique and named it LaLa because it sounded surfy, looked “kind of French,” and was easy to remember.
Today Kerry Cassill’s products are sold all over the world. Her brand is luxury meets resort. Her lines are handmade, and about color. “It’s not for the big department stores, and not for mass producing,” she explains. They are a direct trade company that works directly with a family in India. Her products supply jobs for 80 people who work in a solar powered facility in Jidar that reuses and recycles water.
She now also carries goods that come from Africa and Germany, while her linens (her sheet line has become a sought after commodity in the bedding world) come from Belgium and France. She even branches out doing lines for other brands like ABC Carpet & Home in New York and Anthropology. “I really enjoy doing a whole separate idea. I know what stuff I like and what I want in my collection, so it’s fun to pick up the feel on what another company’s direction is,” she says.
25 years in, Kerry is still inspired by the beautiful things that surround her just as she was when she was young. Although she’s been her own boss basically her whole life she constantly is striving to figure out new ways of running things and of traveling more, while making an effort to stay open to what’s new. For the talented Kerry Cassill, there is always more to learn and always much, much more to create.
Lindsay DeLong is the Managing Editor of The Fullest. She used to really like her bedroom, but after a trip to Lala Boutique, realizes it’s in dire need of a Kerry Cassill facelift. Or at least new sheets. Find her at firstname.lastname@example.org or on social media via @lindizzaster.
Photographs by: Marielena Verdugo.