Cynthia Webb, the designer and owner of Cynthia L boutique in downtown Menlo Park, thinks of her shop as a “restoration village.” “I tell my customers, ‘bring in your old things and I will make them new,'” she says.
Indeed, the shop is a mix of what Cynthia has found to be her mainstay brands — those that have stayed popular with clientele since the shop opened 11 years ago — and various Cynthia creations. She’ll take old cashmere sweaters and refresh them with hand-sewn cut out designs or turn them into fingerless gloves. A set of birthday party hats (in top photo behind Cynthia) were concocted from vintage magazines, as are a series of lady-like flasks.
“I love hand work,” she says. “It’s calming to me. Whenever I’m a passenger in a car, I bring some thing along to work on. I have trouble just being still.”
Cynthia admits that sales have lagged since the last economic downturn and have yet to recover. That’s led her to other lines of work, getting into interior design, reupholstering furniture, and making custom pillows.
“I think that the merchandising displays have long been the shop’s draw,” she says. “For many of my customers, the shop is like a sanctuary, a feel-good place. There’s a comfort here. The customers who have hung with me are like family. I don’t know how I could say good bye, but I’d sure like business to pick up.”