Searching for the perfect dress: Scottsdale shop offers exclusivity

A view of some of the specialty high-end dresses offered at Roxanne's Couture (Special to the Independent/Logan M. Fowler)

A view of some of the specialty high-end dresses offered at Roxanne’s Couture (Special to the Independent/Logan M. Fowler)

Walking into Roxanne’s Couture in Old Town Scottsdale, one becomes engulfed in a flurry of tulle and glitter. The store is full of high school girls all searching for the “one” – the perfect dress for their perfect prom.

Started over 30 years ago in Anchorage, AK, Roxanne’s caters to high-end fashion clientele. From bride’s maids to flower girls to prom, it can be a one-stop shop for all dress and ball gown related events.

Girls from all over Scottsdale, Phoenix even, come to the store to buy high-end dresses. Roxanne’s is only store in Arizona to sell Tony Bowls, a top gown designer. It is also one of three stores in Arizona to sell Sherri Hill, another popular dress designer.

Lola Harper, the founder and owner of Roxanne’s, started with a dream.

“I had a plan with no time to stop. I didn’t have time to go to school, I could only act on my dreams,” Harper said.

Harper started with little money and found help in a businessman in Alaska, who she calls Goldstein. He looked at her business plan and built her a store in one of the buildings he was going to close. She was one of the first African-American owed business’ in Anchorage.

From there Harper simply needed to put inventory in her shop.

“I went to New York and dressed like the other shoppers and spent money I didn’t have,” Harper explained.

Because of her husband’s health problems, Lola then moved to Scottsdale to continue her business. She received a loan from Jim Peterson and from there she built a reputation.

(Special to the Independent/Logan M. Fowler)

(Special to the Independent/Logan M. Fowler)

One of the most appealing points of Roxanne’s is that girls are asked the name of their school if attending prom. When they do so, that gown is no longer sold for that prom, to ensure that every girl feels special in their dress.

Having worked her way to where she is now, Harper is always helpful to girls who want a special prom, but can’t afford the high-end prices, by making recommendations of where they can get their dream dress.

As she rings customers up for their dresses, Harper treats each girl like her own personal guest. “Honey,” “sweetheart” and “love” are words that slip into her sentences as she interacts with the customers.

“If I could ensure that all my employee’s would treat customers how I do, I would have a chain,” Harper said, “I want them to feel comfortable shopping with us.”

Harper has made big changes in the last 35 years.

“To think, I started as a little store in Alaska, now I’m here in Scottsdale,” she said. “It all comes from what God, has for you.”

Although she knows it won’t happen anytime soon, Harper hopes to eventually retire to Texas.

“I want to garden, I love the plants and flowers. But its not my time yet,” she said.

Editor's Note: Ms. Fowler is a student journalist at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

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