Sept. 16--While her peers are trolling the stores and the web, Angelica Torres is hustling to sell the clothes and accessories they crave.
At 18, Torres has parlayed a successful online business called Love for Bling into brick-and-mortar store in at 19348 Van Buren Boulevard, in the Woodcrest area near Riverside. Since Torres opened two weeks ago, business already is blooming, if not booming, she said.
"Because she's so young, I would have told her to hold off until she finishes college," said her mother, Beth Zaida, with whom Torres lives in Moreno Valley. Zaida works for a medical supply company in Santa Ana.
"But Angelica has shown such dedication and perseverance, I support her," Zaida, 40, said. "And everyone has been asking for her designs."
As a student at Martin Luther King High School in Riverside, Torres launched an Internet site selling glitzy, themed, one-of-a-kind cell phone holders which she decorated. "I always liked sparkly stuff," said Torres. "And the only bling ones I could find cost $200 at mall kiosks."
Daubing on glitter, rhinestones and plastic charms she creates from resins, Torres painstakingly designed phone cases to satisfy an increasing niche demand for unique accessories. She marketed herself through Facebook and Instagram. In a year-and-a-half, she'd sold more than 100 holders for mobile phones, priced from $35 to $50, with orders continuing to pour in.
After high school, Torres started Riverside City College while working for the owner of a trendy boutique called Eye Kandy, 900 square feet that now house Love for Bling. Torres built a following at Eye Kandy, racking up $12,000 in monthly sales, revenue figures she hopes to duplicate at her own shop.
After Eye Kandy shuttered for good last May, Torres took her entrepreneurial dreams to the next level. With help from her mother and savings, she invested $10,000 to refurbish, stock and rent Love for Bling at the same location. Buying from marts around the country, Torres sells jewelry, shoes, hats, her gussied up cell phone cases and women's clothing. Prices top out at $50.
The clientele ranges from teens to grandmas, many carryovers from Eye Kandy. One of them, Joe Mills, 65, of Riverside, buys frequently for his wife, Michelle Mills, 45. "The styles here are edgy, cool and comfortable," he said as he contemplated a $44 pair of yoga pants.
Barbara Stowe, 48, of Riverside, is a huge fan of Torres' trendy jeans and tank tops. She stopped by the other day to pick up a $22.99 halter to wear to a rock concert. She also loves Torres' policy of giving shoppers a gift with purchase, usually a piece of jewelry. "I always seem to get something free," Stowe said.
Torres has turned her blingification talents to high heels and almost any item that could use a bit of razzle dazzle. "I even decorated a cane," she said proudly.
Love for Bling is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.
Follow Laurie Lucas on Twitter @Laurielucas and check her blog on pe.com/business
(c)2013 The Press-Enterprise (Riverside, Calif.)
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Original headline: RIVERSIDE: Entrepreneur, 18, in the business of bling
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