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ShopLocalSD: Kyss Boutique

Kyss owners Carla Woolever and Karen Kampfl.
Photo by Rebekah Sager

When owners Carla Woolever and Karen Kampfl first opened Kyss, they had the store blessed by a Universalist priestess.

“We left no stone unturned to help ourselves,” says Kampfl, a career retail girl who started at the Gap, and later ran boutiques in New York.

Carlsbad's Kyss Boutique is the mall alternative. It's a clothing boutique oasis--where customer service reigns and women can find everything from a unique dress to a much-needed new foundation garment.

Kyss is like a mini-Nordstrom, conveniently located across from a Trader Joe’s (near Palomar Airport). With onsite tailoring and the occasional special order, they offer all the perks of a Nordie’s (without the ridiculously generous return policy). Kyss gives store credit only. But even so, they’ve been known to follow the “customer’s always right” policy and take back an item or two for cash.

Talismanic tzchochkes hang around the store in precise places meant to enhance Feng Shui.

The store is as warm and inviting as its’ owners. Reminiscent of some big city boutiques--Brooklyn’s Park Slope, Chicago’s Wicker Park and Boston’s Newbury Street come to mind--Kyss has what customers want and need. Whether it’s Commando or Spanx panties, a wear-it-everyday Michael Stars tee or a one-of-a-kind Me & D handbag (hand-made by a mother daughter team from Folsom), the store keeps women from having to fight the crowds in at the nearby Forum strip mall.

Inside Kyss.
Photo by Rebekah Sager

“Honesty is our policy; if something looks bad on you, we’re going to tell you,” says Kampfl, in her very abrupt and direct Long Island accent.

Photos of “real women” in the community are hung on walls. The owners say these women inspired them or helped them along the way—mentors, friends, even their loan officer.

Kyss carries everything from fun, trendy and affordable jewelry by J. Fein Designs, to fine jewelry by local designer Julez Bryant, known for her bold, sexy and luxurious pieces.

One of the best sellers at Kyss is Plenty--the less expensive second line by Tracy Reese. Plenty is described as bohemian, ethnic and modern. The clothes are classic, well fitting, never trendy and have a slight rocker edge. The average price is $125-$300.

Kyss has a wide price range. Customers can find tanks starting at $11 up to a hand-beaded cocktail dress from Milan at $495.

Kyss carries Whiting and Davis handbags, the well-respected mesh metal accessories line started in 1876.

Woolever and Kampfl will begin to offer more work-wear for fall. The trends, they predict are pencil skirts, girly tops and clean military style jackets.

“We have fun here. If a woman tells us she’s having a bad day, we may just pop open a bottle of champagne and change all that,” says Woolever.

Details »
  • City: Carlsbad
  • Phone: (760) 930-0781
  • Name: Kyss Boutique
  • Address: 2641 Gateway Rd.Carlsbad, CA 92009