How This Assembly Member Opened a Shop and Changed SF’s Fashion Scene

Le Point is a boutique full of statement pieces.

Grace Wilcox Photography

If you’ve been to The Assembly, then you’ve walked by the corner of 14th and Valencia. And if you’ve walked by the corner of 14th and Valencia, then you’ve noticed Le Point. Le Point is the creation of Pauline Montupet, a former stylist and current member of The Assembly. The shop carries modern, yet wearable clothes and accessories. It’s a store full of statement pieces.

Montupet is helping push the city’s women out of their casual comfort zone — without sacrificing actual comfort.

Before opening her light-filled boutique in 2015, Montupet worked on editorials for print and major fashion brands like Levi’s and Gap. But she felt something was missing from San Francisco’s style offerings. She wanted a place where she and her friends could find the brands they loved, but couldn’t find in SF.

Turning a Passion into a Business

Montupet opened Le Point to fill that fashion void. It also fills a creative need. “As a stylist, my favorite part of pulling clothing for photoshoot was coming up with a story and a point of view,” she told us. “With the shop, we have our main style, but every season I get to tweak it and create all these little stories in the shop.” With her eye, Montupet is helping push the city’s women out of their casual comfort zone — without sacrificing actual comfort.

Read on for our Q&A with Montupet to find out how she turned her passion for fashion into a business. And be sure to check out your member perks page to find out about a discount at Le Point!

Q: What type of woman do you have in mind when choosing the clothes for Le Point?

Montupet: “Our clients aren’t afraid to discover new brands, but they also want something that is functional and wearable. We think that fashion should be fun. It should make you feel cool and pretty and most of all it’s meant to be worn. When picking out items for the shop, I try to find the balance of clothing that is fashion forward and has interesting detail, while also being functional.”

Q: What makes San Francisco style unique?

Montupet: “We sell a lot of light layering pieces like sweaters, light coats, and leather jackets. In general, SF has a very laid back style. No one here wants to look like they are trying too hard. Even women with a full designer look and a great designer bag will throw in some laid back pieces to make it looks easy and effortless. That’s what makes us as a shop a little different with an SF feel to it. A store in New York might carry a full runway look from a brand, but for us it’s more about that one key piece and then mixing it with something more casual and easy.”

No one here wants to look like they are trying too hard.

Q: Many people love fashion. How did you manage to make a living out of it?

Montupet: “Working in fashion isn’t quite as glamorous as it seems. Yes, I get to work with pretty clothing and play dress up all the time, but at the end of the day it’s also a business. I have to manage budgets, do the accounting, manage staff, and deal with all those day to day tasks. Just like any job, it takes lots of hard work.

“When I first started working as a stylist in New York, the whole fashion world was much more secretive and hard to break into. But now fashion is much more accessible both as a consumer and as someone looking to work in it. There are so many different facets to the fashion industry, you can really find your niche. After going to school for fashion design, I realized I was better at interpreting fashion, versus creating fashion.”

Q: What was the hardest thing about starting your own business?

Montupet: “Getting it together to make the leap. I continued styling full time while we were in planning mode and even during the first year we were open. It felt like a safety net. Running your own business is harder than I thought it would be. It’s always on your mind. It is much harder to try and shut off your work brain in your off time.

The only place I can really not think about work is in a group fitness class.

“When I am at home with my family and son, I try and be present and leave work at work. But it’s hard. I will be making dinner and have a toddler grabbing my leg, and all I can think about is how sales went that day, and if I tweak this on the website would it make it better, and if we want to pick up a line or drop a line. It’s just all consuming. To be honest, I feel like the only place I can really not think about work and the shop is in a group fitness class, because I am clumsy, and if I don’t focus on what I am doing and what the instructor is saying I’ll probably fall over.”

Q: What is the best thing about starting your own business?

Montupet: “Being able to look around the shop and see what I have built and see all the great brands we support and talk to our amazing customers. That makes it all worth it. Sometimes when that afternoon light hits the shop and it looks so pretty and dreamy in there, I am like: ‘Wow this my shop. I did this’ and that is a really great feeling.”

Q: If you weren’t working in fashion, what would you be doing?

Montupet: “I first went to college for business and hotel management. I would probably be doing something in the service industry. I always wanted to go to culinary school and become a pastry chef. Pretty much my two loves are fashion and sweets.”

Q: What is one thing that would surprise people about owning your own store?

Montupet:  “That I don’t actually have as big of a wardrobe as people would think. I really only pick out a few items a season for myself. I wouldn’t say I have a uniform, because I totally don’t. One day I will wear a minimalist black suit and the next day a pair of leopard print pants and the next jeans and tee shirt. But I really enjoy feeling like I love and wear all the clothes in my closet. That’s also what I want our customers to feel like they have purchased a piece at the shop. I want them to leave with something that the love and will wear all the time. ”

Q: What insider tips can you give us? When are your big sales are or what trend or brand they should try?

Montupet: “Sign up for our mailing list for special friends and family promos. Plus we have biannual sales in August and February where you can get some amazing deals. As far as some of my favorite brands, Calder Blake makes probably the most perfect t-shirts. You can find me wearing one of her crew neck tees 80 percent of the time. They are cut from soft organic cotton, all made in Los Angeles. One of our great emerging designers we carry is Mr. Larkin. It’s a Danish based brand, but the designer in American and used to live in SF. The line feels really cool and easy. She currently has this amazing graphic floral print, that is one of our shop favorites right now! Plus both of these brands are run by amazing strong women and moms.”

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