It is rare that 22-year-old, tech-savvy businessmen get giddy about the ribbons and tulle required to satisfy a little goddess’s divine party dreams, but that is exactly what’s on the mind of Kevin Mahany and Ata Sari, the UCSB grads behind the Paseo Nuevo mall’s new girls’ fashion store, Mama Luma.
“My mom has been designing all these amazing products,” said Sari of his mother’s ambitious career working with classic European-cut dresses in his hometown of Istanbul, Turkey. “And we should bring them to life.”
Now the two college friends are mixing her patterning talents with their entrepreneurial sensibilities to create a multifaceted concept store aimed at bringing the high-end brand to California. Their grand opening event is set for June 15.
“It’s more than just selling dresses,” said Mahany of what will be the store’s permanent play area and art space to keep youngsters safely occupied while parents shop. “We are trying to build a society of empowering young girls.” He hopes the store will collaborate with other area organizations that work with kids to host reading hours and community and family events.
Additionally, Mama Luma (mamaluma.com) will introduce some next-generation shopping experiences to satisfy modern patrons. One of them is a customer service program that hand delivers Mama Luma’s products to Santa Barbara doorsteps. Customers can then try on their orders, and if they like it, they can purchase it. If they don’t, Mama Luma takes it back free of charge.
Before launching Mama Luma, Sari worked in technology, and Mahany studied psychology. Now the two are hoping to tackle the current paradigm shift in retail with their “type A mindset” toward business and their generation’s famously “short attention spans.”
“This community has been very receptive to what we are doing and has helped nurture us during a very critical part of our life,” said Mahany of their love for Santa Barbara and the support they have received. “So the big thing for us right now is how we contribute back to that.”