Caroline Schneider modeling one of the easy-wear silks that are her stock-in-trade.
Lola, Rye’s Womenswear Daily
By Robin Jovanovich
The story of how Caroline Schneider, who ran the retail division of Douglas Elliman in Manhattan, ended up opening a boutique in Rye 15 years ago, has its plot twists.
“I was in and out of the fashion markets and shops in the City for years, but after September 11 those stores were the slowest to open,” explained Schneider during a conversation at Lola, her Purchase Street shop.
Fortuitously, a call from Gena DiDonato, a commercial real estate broker in Rye, wondering if Schneider had any clients who might be interested in renting retail space in Westchester, resulted in a lightbulb moment.
Shortly after that call, Caroline, who lives in Harrison, and her sister-in-law, Judy Banker, who lives in Greenwich, started talking about the need for a good lingerie shop in Rye.
Fast forward to their first trade show at the Javits Center. “We saw really great looking shearling vests and concluded that they’d be better sellers than silk lingerie,” Schneider recalled with a smile.
“We zigged and zagged, not really sure what kind of store we wanted Lola to be. After bringing in Juliska stoneware, we became known as a gift shop before morphing into apparel,” she said.
The label stuck, as has Schneider’s passion for finding new and different designers. “It keeps me going. I love what I do.”
Even before Covid-19 ended life as we knew it, Schneider was moving toward carrying more easy-care, easy-wear lines. What do women want? “To be able to throw on beautiful, wearable clothes. Color and comfort are key,” she emphasized, pointing to a wall of flowing and washable silk dresses from Flatiron Workshop, separates from Australia’s Cassandra Harper, and complementary tops and pants from Italian designer YC.
For the last decade, Schneider has been the sole proprietor of Lola. While many shop names are eponymous, she decided on the name after listening to two of the selections on her home juke box — “Whatever Lola Wants” from “Damn Yankees” and the Kinks’ “Lola”.
The summer season is typically Schneider’s busiest and she is counting on customers, old and new, to make a habit of shopping locally, in person or online, so that the bloom doesn’t fall farther from the retail rose.