Watching Alysa Cascio when she’s on top of her game is a thing of beauty.
By MARIA MARTIN
Special to The Star
She’s a matchmaker of sorts — whirling through her shop, hunting down the perfect black dress for a petite young college student, a shirt to complement a pair of slacks for a middle-aged mom, or a sweater to hide a few sins for a mom struggling to lose baby weight.
It might be the pretty dresses, sweaters and accessories in the window that draw women into Alysa Rene Boutique. But a handful of clients visiting on a Monday afternoon say it’s the personalized service from Cascio and her staff that keeps them coming back.
“There’s not much I like more than helping people look good,” says Cascio, who first opened in Lee’s Summit in 2010, gracing the shop with her first and middle names. The new Leawood location, at 11555 Ash St., in Park Place, opened December 2011, and she closed the Lee’s Summit store a year later.
“It took some courage, starting a business during a recession, but we’ve been doing well,” says Cascio, straightening out a display of camisoles. “I think people realize that I’ll go out of my way to help them find something.”
A tour of her shop, a small space illuminated by an elaborate crystal chandelier, reveals racks of dresses, tops, skirts, pants and sweaters. Cascio points out the shoes, belts and camisoles. “I want everyone to come here and not have to go anywhere else for an accessory or a cami,” she says.
Those in the Kansas City area are much more fashionable than many give them credit for, Cascio says, pointing to the corals, mint greens and cobalt blue shades presented at the markets she goes to on the East and West coasts.
Clothing from Free People is a top seller, she says, adding that while that brand is sold elsewhere, she usually tries to find clothing brands unique to Kansas City.
You won’t find jewelry from Zancs Jules anywhere else in the area, and Cascio says the brand is a top seller. Strands with colorful stones can be attached to the necklace, changing the tone and feel of the piece.
In much the same way, Cascio tries to find clothing that can move from office to night out with a few simple changes. A sweater over a feminine dress creates a perfect 9-to-5 outfit. Shed the sweater and add heels and an artful necklace, and you’re ready for drinks out on the town.
If you’re not sure how to pull it off, Cascio will help the fashion-impaired.
Her passion for fashion was likely inspired by her mom, who was “a shoe person,” Cascio says with a laugh.
“Oh, and Audrey Hepburn was another inspiration,” she says, pointing to a photo of the film star and fashion icon displayed prominently on the wall. She started working in retail when her youngest daughter, now in the fashion business herself, went to college. While her three children were growing up, she says, they laughed because Mom never wanted to leave the house looking sloppy.
“I love to look put together,” she says. “And that’s what I’m doing for others now.”
So what if a client tries on something that doesn’t look so great?
“I’ll tell you if it’s not a good style for you, and every woman I’ve met appreciates that,” Cascio says. “It’s not great advertising to me if you walk out of here in the wrong outfit, so it benefits me to be sure you look great.”