Felicia Jimenez Moves Her Local Fashion Boutique Royal Factory Online
The former Victoria’s Secret manager built her brand in the Shorth North, then Campus and now is prioritizing an online presence.
Throughout her career, Felicia Jimenez has seen many sides of fashion retail. First, she was a corporate decision-maker. Then, a brick-and-mortar boutique owner. Now, she’s taking the plunge as an online indie retailer.
Early in her career, Jimenez worked for Victoria’s Secret, laying out retail spaces in Los Angeles. In 2005, she arrived at the corporate headquarters in Columbus as a manager of visual merchandising. Climbing the corporate ladder wasn’t enough to satisfy Jimenez, however. She launched Royal Factory in 2010.
The Short North boutique featured a combination of new, vintage, repurposed and locally designed clothing and home goods. Beyond its eclectic inventory, the store also served as a place for indie designers to host pop-ups and events, cementing itself as an important venue for the Columbus fashion scene.
“Those are the people around you that are going to be able to support you, and you in return are able to support them,” Jimenez says. “It’s all about community: What’s around you, how can you be part of it? Without that, your business fails.”
After several years of splitting her time between Royal Factory and Victoria’s Secret, Jimenez decided to focus on her boutique full time. In 2021, she moved her storefront across High Street from Ohio State University. Despite the smaller space forcing her to pare down inventory, Jimenez says the move was a longtime goal.
“Our client was our campus girl,” she says. “So getting closer to her—getting to her every day—was definitely something that we wanted to do.” Jimenez recalls her time as a young professional, trying to be fashionable on a shoestring budget. This is Royal Factory’s niche.
Now, the boutique is undergoing another transformation. Until at least next summer Royal Factory will be without a physical home. Instead of going dormant, however, Jimenez says she is using this as an opportunity to finally strengthen the online presence of her business, something she admits to under-prioritizing due to her brick-and-mortar retail roots.
How has Royal Factory stayed trendy and competed with big box stores for so long? We try to stay unique in the items we purchase. We don’t play it safe by buying into core items. We focus on unique, one-of-a-kind [pieces] or small buys of unique items.
How do you and your business stay in tune with local designers? Staying close with the youth of the community and incorporating local designers of the community into Royal Factory.
How is Royal Factory changing as it transitions to online-only? What adjustments are you making? We are focusing on photo shoots and getting product out via online. Sounds basic, but [it’s] something we never focused on prior, as our product in store moved so quickly it was never really a priority for us to focus online.
How can locals connect with and support the Columbus fashion scene? Reach out to us on [Instagram], as we are still collaborating with local designers, photographers and models. We will focus on doing pop ups, unique designs and local designers.
This story is from the August 2022 issue of Columbus Monthly.