Earth-Friendly Fashion

Cheryl Samlaska has a habit of getting what she didn’t know she wanted. When she was younger she asked her grandpa for a BMW. She got a cell phone instead – a big deal at the time. A few years ago Samlaska told her husband she wanted to open an organic food restaurant. Fast forward to March of this year and she doesn’t have a restaurant, but she does have an eco-friendly fashion boutique.

“Reach for the moon and land on a star,” she says from behind the cashier’s desk at her new boutique at The District, Oya Eco Couture.

Deciding a restaurant was too risky, and too pricey, she did some research on environmentally aware cities and noticed they had something Las Vegas didn’t: a fashion conscience. She immediately started researching the possibility of opening her own boutique and eventually landed on the star that is Oya Eco Couture. Her customers can relate with finding something they didn’t know they were looking for.

While perusing the boutiques at The District, they stumble into her store and find themselves impressed by eco-friendly clothes that don’t resemble burlap sacks. There’s even a good selection of clothes for their children. Soon enough, the random shoppers become eco-converts without even realizing it.

Samlaska credits her collections for that. Made of sustainable fabrics and with earth-friendly practices, lines such as EcoSkin, Loomstate, Stacia EcoKnits, Stewart+Brown, She-bible and Walleska boast all the same features women have come to love in casual wear. Long maxi dresses, flirty summer dresses, sexy bikinis, accessories with charisma and subtle jewelry pieces keep the shoppers occupied.

A couple standouts currently at the boutique include a black one-shoulder EcoSkin dress for $244 and an oversized Walleska tote bag made completely of recycled soda can pull tabs for $540. The former feels buttery soft and the latter looks like a metallic chain-embellished bag that could make a variety of luxury handbag designer’s look books.

Samlaska explains why the price point climbs a little higher with eco clothes. “It’s the quality,” she says. “A lot of the lines are made of bamboo and hemp and there’s a real process to making those materials.”

Other collections rely on recycled materials, such as the Walleska bag. Smart Glass, a jewelry line, produces its pieces from reclaimed metals and old soda bottles. A Maya Moon leather handbag at the store is made of old leather jackets.

Earth-conscious customers get other benefits, too. With a $250 purchase, customers get a free, eco-friendly shopping bag. If they bring it with them the next time they shop, they get 10 percent off their purchase. The offer is good with every shopping visit.

Although Samlaska insists she isn’t a die-hard environmentalist (“I’m not going to tie myself to a tree”), the wife and mother of two practices energy conservation at home and recycles as much as possible. She confesses to driving an SUV, but it’s only because she’s waiting for Mercedes to debut a hybrid model. Her next aspiration is to build a completely sustainable home.

She also hopes to one day open another store on the opposite side of town and perhaps branch out even further to Scottsdale, Ariz., and Los Angeles. For now, she’s content to introduce Las Vegas and Henderson to another side of fashion: a kinder side.

“People are seeing that (looking out for) the environment is hip and cutting-edge,” she says. “And, if it’s hip to be eco, that’s not a bad thing at all.”

Oya Eco Couture is located at The District at Green Valley Ranch, Suite 157, 228-3261.

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