Yasmin Garcia’s reason is simple for why she opened a trendy, teen-friendly clothing store and salon called Organic Bliss in Oak Harbor.
So she could shop.
The 21-year-old hair stylist and her three siblings felt they landed in a desert — a fashion desert — after moving to Whidbey from Los Angeles 10 years ago.
“It was really hard to find clothes here that we liked,” she said. “I thought that teens who were living here would like a place with more stylish clothes. They always seemed to go shopping outside of Oak Harbor.”
Organic Bliss, located at 810 S.E. Pioneer Way, no. 102, is open daily, except Sunday. The salon specializes in manicures and hair cutting, coloring and treatments using an organic product from Italy called O Way. Trims, military cuts, beard trimming and hot shaves with a straight razor are also offered by barber David Reyes.
Five years ago, Yasmin, her two older sisters and a brother opened a boutique, Glamorous, that specialized in girl’s and women’s apparel and accessories, particularly party dresses for special occasions, such as school proms and weddings.
Their new store is just down the street from the old Pioneer Way location but it seems to bring in more passersby because it’s centrally located along the main Oak Harbor waterfront shopping strip, Yasmin said. It opened in September. The business also joined the Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce, which held an official ribbon cutting this month.
After graduating from Oak Harbor High School in 2013, Yasmin spent 13 months learning the art of haircutting, coloring, highlighting and other tricks of the cosmetology trade from Paroba College in Everett. Her sister, Nancy, 28, decided to follow her passion, becoming a licensed manicurist.
“She inspired me,” Nancy said of the “baby” of the family, who was the first in the family to pursue vocational training and a professional career.
“I’d been doing nails since I was 10 years old.”
Yasmin added, “Yes, she was always messing around with my nails and hair, too. That’s how I got interested in becoming a hairdresser.”
Their other sister lives in Mexico and a brother joined the military, now at Naval Base Kitsap/Bremerton.
Yasmin and Nancy Garcia were able open a new space on their own using savings. They didn’t take out any loans.
“We emptied out our savings account to lease this space,” Yasmin said. “One of our goals is to build up a good clientele and provide everything they need: hair, nails, clothes, shoes, jewelry and lots of other accessories.”
The 1,200-square foot boutique is divided into two distinct areas, the back end for shampooing, trimming hair and other salon services while the front is fully stocked with a variety of party dresses, casual wear, stacks of jeans and rows and rows of shoes and boots.
While not technically a shoe store, you wouldn’t know it by the wall full of pink stilettos, brown and black knee-high boots, gold sandals and sequined high, high heels in every strapping style.
“We try and keep the heels in stock since we have the dresses that can go with them,” Yasmin said. “The boots go really fast. We try and keep them year round because you know how the weather is around here. It is Washington state after all.”
Come spring, the store will be full of young ladies looking through the colorful low-cut sequined dresses and the full-length sweeping formals.
“Prom season is always the busiest,” Yasmin said.
The sisters are continuing to rent tuxedos, a service that became popular in their former clothing store. Partnering with Jim’s Formal Wear, they advertise the tux rental service at high schools during the spring. Sailors needing to dress up for formal Navy balls also come in for the temporary tuxes.
Yasmin says she purviews local clothing stores to buy for Organic Bliss, trying to offer a mix of styles and sizes from 2 to 3XX.
“We wanted to be able to maintain prices down low so people could afford to buy pieces that were cute and simple and not too pricey,” she said.
If a customer just can’t find that perfect outfit at Organic Bliss, Yasmin says she gladly sends them to two other nearby boutiques, Just Because and Red’s Boutique. “I find them to be really unique from each other and from us,” she said.
Organic Bliss also offers “Mr. and Mrs. Packages” for brides and grooms, or brides and brides or grooms and grooms.
Whatever the couple, they can get all spiffed up for the big day with hair, makeup and manicures in packages called Delight, Deluxe, Natural or Glamour.
The sisters try to have new clothing selections in every few weeks and rotate special deals.
They both also have a secret weapon, of sorts — being able to speak Spanish.