Ten years ago, Lacadia Olsen opened Cuffs Boutique in the Midtown neighborhood of Sacramento, on a block with one other lone restaurant and retail store. Now a decade later, Midtown has become Sacramento’s “arts and culture district.” We chatted with Lacadia about Cuffs’s beginnings, the challenges to running a retail store, and Sacramento’s best kept secret.
Give us a short intro to who you are! Are you from Sacramento? If not, where are you from/how long have you lived in the area?
I’m actually originally from Minnesota! My mom and I moved to Davis when I was entering high school. During those four years, Sacramento was where we went to the mall, and that’s about it. I knew very little about Sacramento, so I never would have imagined I’d end up here after college. However, it was a really affordable place to start a business at the time and that’s what I wanted to do.
That was ten years ago! I feel like a lot has changed — for the better — in Sacramento in those ten years, and it’s been really amazing to be a part of that and to witness the growth of my own business along with, and partly because of, Sacramento’s (specifically Midtown’s) growth.
When did Cuffs open and how long have you been in business?
We opened in October of 2004, so as I mentioned, this year we’ll celebrate our 10 year anniversary! When we opened our doors there was only one other retail store on our block and one restaurant. Now it’s ALL retail and restaurants, which is great!
Have you always been interested in opening a retail store? Are there any other aspects of fashion or design that are appealing to you?
Not at all. In college, I was on track to be a journalist. I wrote for the college paper and tried to get into freelance once I’d graduated, but it was tough and not what I’d imagined it to be. I’d also been inspired by some of the locally-owned boutiques in Santa Barbara (where I went to school), and when I began to toy with that idea, my family really got behind me and encouraged me to try it. I’d always been interested in fashion and personal style, but I’d never worked a day in retail, so there was a pretty steep leaning curve there.
What’s your favorite thing about Cuffs? What has been the most difficult or challenging thing about running a retail store?
My favorite thing about Cuffs is how it’s evolved over the years. I think I’ve always been able to say I’m happiest with it right now; meaning I’m always making changes and improvements that I think have really allowed us to not only stay in business, but to grow over the years.
There were a lot of aspects about running my own business that I hadn’t expected or anticipated. I think my biggest challenge was learning how to be a marketer and a promoter. It’s a HUGE part of the job and something that I really wasn’t comfortable with at first. Despite that, over the years they are skills I have really honed and I’m proud of the progress I’ve made in those areas.
Describe Midtown. What’s the vibe like in your opinion? What are the perks of Cuffs being located in this area?
That’s actually a tough question! I’m sure you’d get a pretty different answer depending on who you ask. I like to describe it as the “arts and culture district of Sacramento.” I can’t imagine Cuffs being anywhere else in the Sacramento area. Midtown is where you go to eat, get drinks, shop, get coffee, sit in the park, etc. It’s the only place in Sacramento were you can do all of this on foot, without having to get in a car, and that’s important to me and most of my customers, I think. In my opinion, it’s where everything is happening.
Favorite restaurant, bar, and store (other than Cuffs of course) in Midtown?
I love Midtown’s bar scene because it has EVERY scene: dive bars, ultra lounges, craft beer breweries, gay bars, gay clubs, English pubs, craft cocktail bars, wine bars… there’s a real mix.
New school: you’re most likely to find me at Lowbrau Bierhall for drinks and Block Butcher Bar for eats. Old school: Simon’s Bar & Cafe for cocktails (a spot my husband and I frequented when we were dating, so we love to slip back in from time to time), and Ju Hachi for great, affordable sushi.
My favorite place to shop would have to be Fringe on X and 21st. It’s filled to the brim with amazing and eccentric antique furniture, decor and vintage clothing, along with new stuff too. It’s a great place to find a unique gift. It’s really beautifully curated by Ms. Audrey Wells who is just as fun and wild as her shop.
What do you hope to accomplish with Cuffs in the next few years?
I hope to see at least as much growth as we’ve seen in the past five years, if not more! I’d also like to get a better handle on the online retail end. We’ve seen some moderate success there, but it needs a lot of work and attention. I still have a lot to learn in that area.
And finally, what’s Sacramento’s best kept secret?
MIDTOWN! I feel like people who have never spent any time in Sacramento know only what they see when driving through on the freeway: not much. People are always so pleasantly surprised to see what Midtown has to offer, and that it’s actually a thriving neighborhood that’s full of things to do. I meet a lot of people at the shop who have just moved here, for work or something, and I always ask how they like Sacramento. I almost always get the same response — that they’re surprised at how much they like it. And I’ve said the same thing for the past ten years!
You can find Cuffs and our Sacramento tees at 2523 J Street, Ste. 101 in Sacramento.