It's a Sunday afternoon at Meital Bronstein's townhouse in Summerlin. She lives just a few blocks from Boca Park where her now defunct boutique Talulah G once beckoned fashion lovers to shop their hearts out.
Although she's close to her old designer domain in proximity, she's light years away mentally and professionally. These days she invites what remains of her clientele to shop at The Bungalow, her pet name for her downsized digs, which also doubles as the site for her home shopping parties.
"I used to live in this great house in The Willows," she says. "Now I live in the bungalow."
Her house isn't all that's changed. Bronstein went from owning and operating a brand that, for six booming years, brought cutting edge fashion to Las Vegas, to losing it all after a recession and a divorce collided in her front yard.
Today she celebrates her 38th birthday, a heart-shaped cake on the kitchen counter commemorating the event, and waits for friends who also are clients to arrive at The Bungalow. It's a long way from where she was 10 years ago.
Bronstein moved to Las Vegas from New York in 2001 at age 28. With the help of her husband, she opened a fashion boutique at Las Vegas Boulevard and Western Avenue. With 350 square feet of retail space, $20,000 of merchandise and $400 a month in rent, a girl's fashion dream came true. She painted the walls herself and hoped that her concept of bringing shoppers the kind of brands and looks they couldn't get anywhere else in town would pay off. It did.
By 2002, she closed the downtown Las Vegas store and opened the new and improved version of Talulah G at Fashion Show mall.
Bronstein did her fashion research and kept in-the-know about up-and-coming designers and on-the-verge trends. According to her, she introduced Las Vegas to coveted brands such as Lanvin and Balenciaga before Neiman Marcus could do it. She had Balmain first, as well as Paco Rabanne, during the brand's brief revival.
When fashion mavens discover a new spot to find the latest and greatest, word travels fast. The Talulah G word didn't travel, it zoomed.
As far as fashion and Vegas, "she put it on the map," says Cathy Seiff, a Talulah G shopper since 2002 and current frequenter of The Bungalow. "Las Vegas was known for gambling and strip clubs. She was able to redefine it as a place where people enjoyed shopping."
Her Strip location at Fashion Show drew both locals and tourists searching for something they wouldn't find in a department store catalog. The boutique saw wild success. Bronstein began traveling to Paris for fashion shows where she sat beside the likes of Catherine Deneuve.
Bronstein's name, then Meital Grantz, became as well-known as Talulah G. She was a tastemaker in town and her boutique was the place to shop.
In 2004, she opened the Boca Park boutique and another one in Newport Beach, Calif. Two years later, she opened her fourth and final boutique at Red Rock Resort.
She felt "invincible." By this time, she'd had her son Jacob, she'd experienced the height of her career and she had a very healthy sum of money at her disposal.
And then the divorce came. Shortly after that, the country experienced an abrupt, buzz-killing economic downturn. Las Vegas took one of the heaviest blows. So did Talulah G.
"It was sad," says Ardi , whose fashion boutique Vasari (now at Tivoli Village) operated at Boca Park during the same time as Talulah G. "She was one of the originals. She brought fashion to Summerlin and she brought uniqueness. But she spread herself too thin."
Bronstein put clients first, second and third. She took note of preferences, dislikes and wish lists and went hunting down whatever it took to please them. After becoming a mother and dealing with marital problems, she couldn't spoil her clients the way she once did. Bronstein filed for bankruptcy and closed all but one store at Fashion Show. She arranged a sublease on it and the name was changed to Boutique Talulah. She has no creative input in the store as it functions today.
Since moving out of the home she shared with her husband, she tried to find her way with a couple of retail jobs. Positions at Neiman Marcus and Kiki de Montparnasse at Crystals didn't pan out.
"It was difficult to go from working for myself to working for someone else," Bronstein says. "When the economy started to tank and I went through essentially a midlife crisis, I got really down on myself. ... But after two years in the dark, I feel more creative than ever right now."
That's where The Bungalow comes in. Bronstein kept running into old clients, who asked her to style them for events. The old glory days of Talulah G would inevitably come up and she'd wonder how and if she would ever get back to that level.
Bronstein called a few of her old retail contacts and launched an idea as modest as her current means. She put $10,000 together and ordered enough merchandise for a mini-boutique party at her home. She called current friends, former clients and anyone else she thought might find something that catches their eye. Again, the focus is on brands you can't find just anywhere.
At The Bungalow today, MiH denim ($184) and Allison Chomer dresses ($180) flank a clothing rack in her living room. Guests try on clothes in her son's bedroom, where a pitched tent, dinosaur stickers and Batman pillows remind them a 7-year-old sleeps there.
Love Tanjane panties ($54), Sugar Bean necklaces ($175) with little sideways pendants, and Blee Inara jewelry ($30-$98) decorate the dining room tabletop. A shelf across from the entrance holds Wild Fox long-sleeve T-shirts ($108) and Rebel Yell sweatsuits ($68-$166). And Golden Globes red carpet coverage blasts through the front room.
Bronstein hopes to add Anna Sui to her merchandise soon.
Aside from The Bungalow, she also has some side projects bubbling up, one of which includes merchandise consulting for designer boutique Lior at The Venetian. Bronstein is brewing a full "revamp."
But for right now, she has some candles to blow out, cake to eat and blessings to count.
"You appreciate things more after you get your butt kicked a little," she says. "The Bungalow is taking on a life of its own. Things are still a little scary but it's an adventure and it makes me feel very alive."
Find more information about The Bungalow on Facebook under "Meital's Bungalow" at facebook.com/TheBungalowLV.
Contact fashion reporter Xazmin Garza at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0477. Follow her on Twitter at @startswithanx.