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Sparkle and Shine Stacie Tamaki's boutique in downtown Campbell offers a
unique collection of jewelry, pillows and soaps. Photograph by Jacqueline Ramseyer

After changing the store name to Leiko, customers walked in
by Jennifer D. Shih

November 27, 2002

Stacie Tamaki's future career began by accident in 1996, when a friend volunteered Tamaki to make bridal veils for a boutique. What followed was a yearlong effort to turn her hobby into a full-time business.

In 2001 she opened a store in downtown Campbell. Now, when the weather is nice, a purple mannequin greets customers in front of her store, with crystal necklaces and handmade tiaras sparkling behind glass doors, and it all says, "Welcome to Leiko."

"My whole business started because I was open to the opportunity," Tamaki said. "I have no business skills to speak of." And what began as a bridal accessory business has now blossomed into a place that offers a little bit of everything. But what makes Leiko a success is the fact that Tamaki can custom-make all of her accessories.

Cyndi Innecken, whose wedding was on Nov. 23, requested matching jewelry designs for her bridesmaids, her mother and herself. Innecken was shopping for a tiara when she discovered Leiko. "I was searching and searching, and everything started looking the same," Innecken said. "When I saw this tiara for $500, I thought, 'If I spend this much, I want something just for me.' " Innecken didn't buy a tiara but instead opted for hairpins that matched her wedding gown.

Another customer, Brandi Mincey, who was married in July 2002, requested a custom-made veil and hairpiece. "She did a wonderful job," Mincey said. "It was a little expensive, but I'm willing to pay for design work specific to me."

Though custom work attracts many clients, it presents its own problems, as some brides will want to do a lot, Tamaki said. "I tell brides there's a fine line between looking elegant and looking costume," said Tamaki. "I talk them out of things."

While many brides come to Leiko, the store also serves shoppers looking for everyday accessories, with items such as crystal rings for about $35 and chokers for $40. The list doesn't end there.

Tamaki also does gown enhancements and origami cranes. Tamaki also features CDs by two vocalists and sells products by 10 designers who make things such as jewelry, purses, candles and greeting cards.

Natalie Jordan, who started making jewelry but is now focusing on purses, found Tamaki while wandering through downtown Campbell. After several visits, Tamaki learned that Jordan is a designer.

Even with a regular clientele, and having celebrated her one-year anniversary on Oct. 31, Tamaki is still hesitant about calling her business a success. "It's really been one baby step at a time," Tamaki said. "There are difficult, tight months." Tamaki, who signed her lease in September 2001, recalls the lack of business during those early months. Part of the reason was September 11th.

The other part of the reason was the name of her store - Happily Ever After. Tamaki said people would walk by, look at the sign, think of a bridal store and walk away. So the day she changed the name to something ambiguous, she began to have more customers.

But for Tamaki, who has been an artist all her life, her work is not about making money. "I like to feel that people come here and can sit back, breathe a little, and be creative in their own life," Tamaki said. "That's much more rewarding to me." And what does Leiko mean? Tamaki laughed. "It's my middle name."

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