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San Clemente Journal

PLAYING FAVORITES - An Inside Look at Favorite J

Feb 01, 2009 03:16PM ● By Don Kindred

by Cheryl Shih Stone

There was a time in Lori Puterbaugh’s life when every special person around her was a Jenna, or a Jeff or a Joey. There were Julies, Johns, Jessies and Jills - and well, you get the idea. Thus sprung forth the lovechild retail operation, Favorite J. When all your favorite people have names that begin with J, why not capitalize on it?

The first Favorite J started in Encinitas, San Diego, as a boutique that served a bustling beach town. Housing swimwear and beach casual clothing, it became an instant success. Right next door was another retail store, the Green Room, owned by Julie Fonoimoana. The Green Room was a women’s clothing store. From the ground up, Julie designed the furniture, the décor, and everything else in between. This was her chance to put all of her creativity under one roof.

The close proximity brought both store owners together. And as the two entrepreneurs became friends, it was no surprise when Julie made her way onto Lori’s Favorite J List. Then fast forward some months, and the two joined forces to create Favorite J in San Clemente. 

What better person to run and own the new store than Julie Fonoimoana, a graduate of the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM) in Downtown, Los Angeles. Ever since she was young, Julie made her own clothes. Noting whatever was cool at the moment. She also made clothes for her friends and looking back, they might have been some of the “most hideous things.” But it was a start, nonetheless.

Julie lived and breathed fashion. Surrounded by a family of artists, Halloween was a creative platform for Julie and her family, and they won lots of costume contests. For them, art was a thing to be celebrated and embraced; everyone was ‘hands on” with their art and in full control of their creativity.

Since it was too good an opportunity to pass up; Julie Fonoimoana closed the Green Room in 2007 to open the second Favorite J’s in San Clemente in Talega. Julie was already an Orange County resident commuting to San Diego, and she figured the time was right to open a second location. The space was available, and she lived nearby. There couldn’t be a better formula.

Julie describes the Talega Village Center as a “destination locale.” Besides the “new Ralphs,” there is a lot that the Talega Village Center offers. Residents arrive at this spot to get their shopping and errands done. Not to mention there is a Pilate’s studio and great sushi restaurant. She sees it as a perfect spot for the second store.

This new location in San Clemente is entirely run by Julie. A Favorite J, herself, she understands the original vision of a beach casual and swimwear boutique. The idea of incorporating everything that was good into one store. Julie really made this San Clemente store her own. She wears a lot of different hats from advertising, marketing, buying, art directing - she is her own Top Employee, working six days a week from 9am-6pm.

Having a background in fashion design gives Julie full advantage in what she does. She is able to judge fabric content, construction of the clothing and of course, design. She has the ability to hand pick what goes in the store, and knowledge of what a client would want or is looking for.

When asked what running a business is like, she likened it to managing a home. “You run a business like you would run your household,” Julie says. Mother of two children (middle school and high school age), she transposed the job criteria of mother and wife to owner and boss. She makes sure people are happy and the bills are paid. 

Favorite J carries beach wear, swimwear, and coastal casual clothing. There is a wide price range so that “an eighteen year old can come in and buy something, but a more mature woman can also come in and find something with a designer label.” The appeal of the store is that it knows no age or size limit. The sizes range from girls and tweens, to women. From full figure to Brazilian bottoms, Favorite J does not fit into the category of ‘surf shop,’ but instead offers a broader and more sophisticated range of beach wear.

The next step for Lori Puterbaugh and Julie Fonoimoana is to expand the Favorite J private label swimsuit line. There are four basic colors and four styles - perfect for the everyday standard. The tops are interchangeable with whatever bottoms, and the line’s already been marketed to professional volleyball players. Something more customers can look forward to is the active wear line. No need to hunt for clothes suitable for Pilates and yoga, since they will be carrying them soon.

The next time you want to save yourself a trip to the mall, stop by Favorite J and allow them to dress your style. b 
Call 388-9904, or drop by soon.