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Opening Ceremony: All-Inclusive

Fashion-forward entrepreneurs bring a clever shopping concept stateside.

This story appears in the September 2008 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Vital Stats Humberto Leon and Carol Lim, both 33, of Opening Ceremony in
Company Multilabel concept boutique
Projected 2008 Sales $8 million to $10 million

Traveling can be an eye-opening experience, but for Humberto Leon and Carol Lim, it was downright life-changing. While visiting Hong Kong, they were so impressed by how shoppers transitioned easily between inexpensive street merchandise and high-end boutiques that they wanted to bring the experience back to the U.S. So, in 2002 they left their jobs in branding and fashion, respectively, and launched Opening Ceremony, a three-story retail store in New York City's China-town. By offering a variety of merchandise priced from dollars to thousands of dollars, they aimed to offer something for everyone in a fun and unintimidating atmosphere.

Unrestrained by fickle fashion trends, Leon and Lim have created their own signature style by featuring a different country every year. Every September, they unveil the work of 20 of the selected country's best designers, ranging from amateurs to experts. To date, they've featured Brazil, Germany, Hong Kong, Sweden and the United Kingdom. Says Leon, "We have a built-in DNA where the store refreshes itself yearly."

Without Bounds
Two years ago, Leon and Lim launched their own label, which is currently carried in 160 stores worldwide and will soon include home, kids, accessories and fragrances. In April, they opened a second Opening Ceremony location, in Los Angeles, with a mini-mall of shops on the second floor. They have plans to expand to Chicago, San Francisco, London, Paris and Japan. "We've planted the seeds laterally," says Lim. "Now it's just time to grow."

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