With the gift of gab, a sense of style, and a genuine desire to “make women feel good after they buy my clothing,” Carol Lefkowitz opened The Greater OC Woman in downtown San Clemente a year ago. Lefkowitz, who quipped that she has been in the clothing business since the Pleistocene Era, understands how important it is for every woman to be able to turn heads. Knowing that size 8 women can walk into any store and buy something without needing a great deal of attention, she chose to focus on women who are size 12 and up.
Lefkowitz, who lives in Laguna Hills, said that her mission is to provide “real clothes for real people, clothes for people with misses’ knishes.” The clothing she offers for sale may be large or plus sizes, medium sizes that run full, or one-size-fits-all.
A veteran clothier, Lefkowitz sold smaller sizes in New York City many years ago, “when plus sizes were just starting to happen.” She opened a store for plus sizes, The Greater NY Woman, in Manhattan. It was so successful that she converted the small-size store across the street into an after-five clothing store for plus sizes. Considering that the average American woman is about 165 pounds and a size 12, according to the Centers for Disease Control’s website, she knew she had a market and that she could run a successful plus-size store anywhere.
Lefkowitz moved to California in 1996, then to Florida for four years, and then back to California. Initially, she wanted to be somewhat close to her relatives in Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley. She ran The Greater LA Woman in Long Beach before moving down to Orange County. Lefkowitz wanted a “mom and pop” location and found it in San Clemente. There, she believes, she can develop personal relationships with all of her customers.
While Lefkowitz acknowledges that many retailers now carry larger sizes, The Greater OC Woman offers a greater selection of clothing for sizes 1x to 3x, especially for mature women who “don’t want to look like teenyboppers.” Still, she maintains colorful and interesting styles, and she believes that she provides the added value of fashion advice, tailoring, and tweaking when necessary. She also thinks that the name of the store is empowering, especially for a population group that might not have enjoyed clothes shopping at one time.
“I want to give every woman the special attention that makes her walk out of here feeling great about herself,” Lefkowitz said. “That’s what every woman deserves when she goes shopping for clothes.”
The Greater O.C. Woman is at 211 Avenida Del Mar in San Clemente and can be reached at (949) 542-7777.