Formerly known as the charming women’s boutique that once housed vintage shoes on Maiden Lane, NOTO has evolved into a trendy retail utopia that currently hosts Akron’s paramount fashion events. Seven years of business and several fashion shows later, and NOTO’s relocation to City Center Plaza on Main Street has appropriately paralleled the boutique’s acclimation to the downtown area.
It is without doubt that owner, Lauren Ward, has greatly influenced the fashion scene in Akron. The mother, entrepreneur, and self described “Akronista” embraces the progression of her business and speaks candidly about her fashion inspiration, ambitions for NOTO and the many alternating hats she wears.
It is not a surprise when her clientele wonder how the mother of two does it all. “I’m not going to lie,” Ward admits, “I think about my business 24/7.” Ward’s commitment to NOTO has not only amplified Akron’s fashion access, but also demonstrated the real potential for local business success.
The boutique, garnished with colorful decor, an oversized vintage mirror and the notable blue couch, sets the ideal atmosphere for customers to enjoy NOTO’s collection of eclectic clothing and accessories, all hand picked by Ward. The versatility of NOTO’s collection offers a style spectrum that ranges from the perfect comfy tee to chic blouses and dresses that ensure to make clientele feel fabulous.
Fashion trends, great conversation and fresh coffee available at Angel Falls Café close by, are just a few reasons why NOTO always delivers a successful shopping experience. Ward discusses the content of her clothing collection with enthusiasm, as she explains which trends have been successful this season.
“I love the bohemian printed trend right now. Printed pants and printed dresses are totally in this year. Those have been a hit. They are really comfortable, and you can dress them up or down. I think printed pants have been huge. My favorite piece this summer was our crisscross maxi dress.”
Though the boutique offers on-trend pieces, each item complies with comfort, reflecting elements of Ward’s eclectic style. “I gravitate to classic pieces,” she says of her personal style, which proves to be truthful when Ward confesses that her style icon is Jenna Lyons, Creative Director at J. Crew. “Phenomenal style,” Ward says of Lyons with a smile of satisfaction.
Ward herself has assumed the role of director when managing NOTO’s fashion shows. This year’s theme, Vintage Americana, appeared to be her best show thus far. NOTO’s fashion shows have claimed the top of the pyramid regarding fashion events in the Akron Area. “Every year the shows get a little bit better and a little more refined. Downtown Akron Partnership has played a huge role. I love it all! It is such a great event for the city.”
Though Ward admits she has gravitated her business toward more current fashion, she has not abandoned NOTO’s vintage origin. Vintage trunk shows are hosted regularly at NOTO with the help of Dina Younis, a local blogger and as Ward describes, “a mega vintage shopper.” “Everything in here, I feel, has a vintage inspired look to it. It’s something that I’ve always loved.”
NOTO’s distinctive style, local involvement and business success continues to inspire the public as the boutique’s rise to the top has remained seamless.
NOTO is located at 76 S. Main St. Unit 140, in downtown Akron, and is open Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Friday 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Saturday by appointment. Call (330) 451-6686 (NOTO) for information, or visit www.notoboutique.com.