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POLAND -- Classic with a contemporary twist is how Gwen Leftwich-Geletka, owner of Kegelles,



Published: Sun, September 2, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



POLAND -- Classic with a contemporary twist is how Gwen Leftwich-Geletka, owner of Kegelles, describes the merchandise in her store.

The building that houses one of the area's most exclusive women's apparel shops also reflects Leftwich-Geletka's description.

Although the exterior of the building fits nicely into the old-fashioned charm of Poland, the interior is open, light and airy -- perfect for showing the cutting edge of the latest styles.

"I always liked shopping in specialty stores, and when I moved here from New Orleans 18 years ago, I saw a need for a shop like this," Leftwich-Geletka said.

Key to success: Personalized service is one of the keys to Kegelles' success. The store keeps a profile on customers that includes a history of their purchases.

"When something comes in that we know they will like, we call them. Everyone gets one-on-one service. It is a very relaxed atmosphere," she said.

The shop sells suits, sportswear, weekend wear and formal wear, along with shoes and accessories.

"We offer a total-look concept," Leftwich-Geletka said. "We show our customers a number of ways to wear their clothes. For example, you can start with a pants suit and add a skirt; wear different tops and get totally different looks with just a few basic items."

Leftwich-Geletka said entrepreneurship is in her blood.

History: "My family has always been in the clothing business. My mother and sister have a store in New Orleans. Although I have degree in nursing, I left nursing and went into outside medical sales, and during that time, I leased part of the my mother's and sister's store to run a shoe department," she said.

She opened Kegelles 17 years ago and has remodeled the store twice and expanded it several times. The latest trends are shown in the display windows.

"We get a lot of comments on those windows. We have to change them every other day, not just because we like to give the public an ongoing fashion show, but because the sun would fade the clothes if we don't rotate them out of there," Leftwich-Geletka said.




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