In high school, Teresa Ofman would save money to buy new bedding while her friends splurged on shirts and shoes. That was the fi rst indicator she would eventually fi nd a career in interior design.
After years of decorating and re-decorating her own home, Ofman justifi ed her linen obsession by opening LuLu in 2009, “a casually elegant lifestyle store” on Main Street that carries an assortment of bed, bath and gift products. Though she made the decision in the midst of a national monetary crisis, she said that leap of faith put her at the forefront with a booming business when the economy stabilized.
“I was walking by the door and saw a note that it was for rent. The woman before me had been there for 25 years, and I’d always admired it. It was the worst year to open a shop, but it just felt right,” she said. “I’ve always spent time in downtown Franklin.”
Before she launched LuLu, Ofman ran a “shop within a shop” with Teresa Powers, now the owner of The Shop Around the Corner. The pair created a boutique for college-aged girls, ones who wanted to craft a happy place in their new home-away-from-home. It was there that the LuLu owner gained valuable market and customer-relations experience, and realized she wanted to run something on a much larger scale.
“It was a great opportunity for me to get the ball rolling, and I discovered what I wanted to accomplish,” she says. “This store reflects my taste, and I think we fill an effeminate niche on Main Street.”
Inside, LuLu is defi nitely an oasis for the ultra-feminine. Burlap banners and pink paintings hang above creamy French Laundry and Ann Gish bedding; Lollia Calm perfumes that smell like lavender compliment the sweeping stock of often-lit candles, and plush pillows with tongue-incheek phrases rest on handstitched quilts.
When she fi rst welcomed customers, Ofman tailored her price points to the struggling economy. Since then, she’s expanded her initial selection of linens and bedding to offer a wide-ranging variety of upscale products, from vintage-inspired jewelry and lighting to setee lounges and other bedroom furniture.
“My goal is to offer something for women of any age, and a gift that will put a smile on someone’s face,” she said. “I know it’s very girly, and we do that to keep it happy and fun.” Ofman said that for her, the shop supplies the perfect segue between helping customers inspire their own sanctuaries and feeding her healthy obsession.
“For me, my house and my bedroom are more than just rooms where I stay and sleep. They can change my mood. They are special to me,” she said. “I’ve spent years perfecting my spaces, and I want to supply others with a shop that allows them to easily design a relaxing retreat.”
For the last three years, Ofman has pulled in Manager Mary Morgan Gentry to offer LuLu clients the interior design expertise to do just that. In addition to in-store consultations, the Nashville and Franklin natives, respectively, work directly with customers and interior designers on anything from furniture layouts to color schemes.
She’s also the one responsible for the elaborate window dressing that carries a different theme each season. This spring, Gentry and Ofman chose a farm-inspired design.
“Nashville and Franklin are defi nitely having a moment. We went to market a few months ago and saw the country vibe everywhere,” Ofman said. “The South is so cool right now. It’s well deserved, don’t you think?”
For more information on LuLu, visit its website at www.LuLuFranklin.com.
This is part of a series on people in downtown Franklin that runs in the Williamson Herald that runs each Thursday.