A two-location NJ boutique brings affordable haute couture to the shore
By Regina Molaro • Photos By Premiere Digital
With a career start at Saks Fifth Avenue in New York City, followed by a stint with renowned retailer Bergdorf Goodman, Kim Kiss was primed for entrepreneurial success. She learned the nuances of the fashion industry under Bergdorf’s personal shopper Betty Halbreich—a fashion icon who has dressed socialites and many of Manhattan’s elite.
“I learned from the best,” said Kiss of her career with Halbreich and iconic costume designer Ann Roth, who has created wardrobes for a lineup of Hollywood movies. Other career positions included a spell at the men’s department at Berdorf, which Kiss spearheaded for two years.
Creativity in retail were also a part of Kiss’s upbringing, as she is the daughter of an advertising executive and a Bay Head store owner. In 1996, fueled by that spirit, Kiss opened the doors to The Bee, a boutique in Bay Head. Her vision? To bring the elegant, contemporary vibe of Manhattan’s fashion scene to the Jersey Shore—only with affordability in mind to satisfy a new and different customer. The resulting look is stylish, modern, and classic.
Although the original Bay Head location and another store in Long Branch were both devastated by Hurricane Sandy, The Bee rallied, and now boasts two locations: a Sea Girt locale since 2006, and another which opened this April in Pt. Pleasant.
The Bee’s lineup of threads can dress a woman for day or evening. The collection includes an extensive range of fashion musts—from dresses to tops, shorts, miniskirts, and bathing suits. Kiss describes the look as “classic with a twist,” and refers to her fashion savvy customer as the “‘it’ girl who likes to be noticed.” Sexy, smart, and classy are key characteristics that make up The Bee’s customer.
A list of designer labels includes Diane Von Furstenberg, Alice + Olivia, Hale Bob, Trina Turk, Melissa Odabash, and others. Prices range from $50 for a miniskirt or pair of shorts to $1,000 for elegant evening attire. On average, dresses are priced at $250.
Accessories are also part of the mix. The Bee offers handbags, glittering jewelry…even shoes. The lineup of brands includes Whiting & Davis for evening bags, Kendra Scott and Dogeared for jeweled accents and embellishments, and Havianas and Tkees for sandals and shoes.
Kiss has an eye for style and bringing in brands that suit clientele. She also eagerly lends her expertise to clients, creating ideal looks for individual styles and taste preferences. With experience outfitting notables such as Meryl Streep and Jack Nicholson from her early days in the studio services department at Saks, this fashion talent has come to understand the art of the ego boost. It’s easy to understand, then, how The Bee earned the title “Best of NJ 2010” by NJ Life magazine.
This entrepreneur credits teamwork for her success in the business. “My team is very important to me. They have been with me through a lot—9/11, Hurricane Sandy, and they make The Bee feel like family for customers.” •
The Bee Stores
2150 Highway 35, Sea Girt / 732.974.0060
624 Arnold Ave., Pt Pleasant Beach / 732.899.6600