Many Santa Feans confess that they were drawn here for reasons they can’t explain. Rosalie Rosenberg is not one of those people. Asked why she chose Santa Fe as her home and that of her women’s fashion boutique, Bodhi Bazaar, she has a quick answer — in Santa Fe, she finally could unite her business and her spirituality. Rosenberg had manufactured a line of clothing in Bali and trained as a buyer in Los Angeles. She was always a spiritual seeker but kept her two worlds separated. “Santa Fe had like-minded people who knew about spirituality,” she says with a little smile. “I think we who live here . . . do not find ourselves strange among ourselves.”
A Santa Fe clothing store named Bodhi Bazaar hired Rosenberg as a buyer. “When I found out its name meant ‘spirituality in the marketplace,’ it was such a kismet,” she says. A year later, she owned half of the business; later she used her portion of profits to establish full ownership. “It’s incredible to have a match between what you do and love doing, in a place where you love doing it,” she says. “The Santa Fe woman loves clothing and values being current on her fashion, and loves the experience. The women you find here are not ego-driven, status-oriented or competitive — and that’s why I could not be doing this anywhere but here.”
As a businesswoman, Rosenberg is in a unique position to be an activist on behalf of needy women and children. Besides supporting local arts organizations and Save the Children, she has raised funds for the International Medical Corps to help women in the Congo, and V-Day to help fund secret schools for women in Pakistan. “Bodhi Bazaar’s next project will focus on local women,” she says. The store will be working with Youth Shelters to hold a benefit raffle with Bodhi gift certificates as prizes. Proceeds will support the expansion of Youth Shelter’s program with pregnant teens. This spring, a party will honor the non-profit and mark the end to a wellness week for women, also sponsored by the store.
The store itself is beautiful, sophisticated and fun, with an overall “Parisian chic” look and feel. Santa Fe interior designer David Naylor provided a recent facelift. “It’s a place where I want women to feel nourished,” Rosenberg says. “The store should be filled with lots of surprises. I like that at every turn there should be a discovery that is exciting, inspiring, multifaceted — like a woman.
“The components to put together a current look are all here. All of our lines can be found in any major cosmopolitan city,” she points out. Bodhi Bazaar carries all of this season’s “must-have” denims including skinny jeans, distressed denim, and the newest favorite — the boyfriend-cut jean. They carry classics like Citizens of Humanity as well as new savvy brands like Rich & Skinny and CJ by Cookie Johnson. Many contemporary looks require denim to pull them off, says Rosenberg, and to pull off every possible look, you can’t have just one pair of jeans. It’s about the shape, the washes, the abrasions (for that rock-n-roll feeling), and also the rhinestones and studdings. All of that, tempered with sophistication can be really chic.
In addition to denim, the store carries all manner of clothing that is contemporary and trendy. The new Yummie Tummie “muffin top buster” body shapers and tank tops are a great place to start. Then pair your denims with cotton and cashmere button-front sweaters by Majestic Paris or layer on bohemian t-shirts by Two Nine One or delicate cozy cottons from Velvet. If you’re looking for an edgier finish, check out the Millard Fillmore sweaters and battle jackets pushing the military look this season. For something more polished and tailored, head over to Elizabeth and James, Bailey 44 and Autumn Cashmere. Bodhi Bazaar also carries time-honored classics like Diane Von Furstenberg, luxurious faux furs and great accessories and jewelry.
How does one select clothing and accessories for such a store? “Well, the goal is to have a large range and still have a focus,” Rosenberg says. “I need to think in terms of how broad my audience is, yet still have a distinct identity. We carry lower price point to designer price point and all of it would work together for the same customer. The challenge is to bring in a mix of merchandise. How you mix it is the store’s identity. A certain product is like an ingredient you put with others to create the particular end result.”
Fashion right now reflects our times, Rosenberg says. We’re seeing every single genre of clothing in the mix. There is appropriateness for occasion, body types and what age you feel. Many components to today’s look are items that women in Santa Fe already have in their closets such as the boot or the chunky bracelet. Then, the look is updated when women take that piece from their closets and mix it with something new. A lot of Santa Fe women are world travelers and they collect things and combine them with each other. “The warmth comes from the history,” Rosenberg explains.
The contemporary woman understands how to balance high and low together. “Fashion at a price” and a less expensive line that hangs right next to it, can give the same look. For example, one ensemble might consist of Joie boots, City of Humanity jeans, an Elizabeth and James sleeveless jacket, a less-expensive Kenzie blouse, and a CC Skye bracelet. Rosenberg wonders aloud if times have gotten so precipitous with big change that many of the rules and concepts of how we should be don’t apply anymore.
Rosenberg is currently working with Santa Fe-based fragrance designer Christa Obuchowski to create her first-ever fragrance, “Just B,” containing nothing but organic, authentic, highest-quality essential oils. This item will launch at holiday time. She is also collaborating on a book about women helping women, an exploration of women and their relationship to the process of dressing themselves. “This message is what I’m breathing into the store,” she explains.
She fosters an authentic connection between her sales associates and the customers. “That’s being true to the integrity of the store –- the authenticity has to be all the way through,” she says. “Each person on the team brings a quality that adds to the flavor of the store. In these economic times we are committed to the ideal that people need to be sincerely greeted and welcomed. We’re here to serve our community and give women a place to experiment with fashion in a safe environment. We’ve flourished during this economic time. When people come in, there isn’t stress. They can exhale. They don’t have to be serious. We can have fun and create art together.
“There’s an extremely personal safety net inside these walls, a healing experience. When a woman puts herself together, she should be intriguing –- to herself, first. The intrigue is not just in the look but also in the process. We help women with that.”
Bodhi Bazaar is in the Sanbusco Market Center at 500 Montezuma Avenue in Santa Fe. 505.982.3880. Open Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. www.bodhibazaar.com.