With his third Elektrik Boutique concept opening this month in Delray Beach, Rory Dougherty Jr. is bringing his vision of South Florida style to the masses. The 30-year-old entrepreneur says that South Florida has its own identity in so many ways, yet its fashion personality lacks distinction. “It’s a little California and a bit New York,” he says. “Yet if you go to Miami, there’s a different style, and another in Boca Raton and another in Fort Lauderdale. South Florida has yet to embrace its fashion identity.”
The first Elektrik Boutique opened in summer 2012 on East Las Olas Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale. The second store is in Dougherty’s hometown, Vero Beach, which had its grand opening in June 2014. The third shop, on East Atlantic Avenue in Delray Beach, is in a prime spot next to the Colony Hotel. Future locations could be Worth Avenue in Palm Beach, then Orlando, then Tampa, with Dougherty’s dream to eventually have 10 stores in Florida.
The concept of Elektrik is edgy and cool, and Dougherty uses those phrases frequently when he discusses what draws in customers and turns them into loyal clientele. He and his team – made up of millennials all under 30 years old – are responsible for what brands the store carries. They select brands that aren’t run-of-the-mill, some of which are what Dougherty calls “mom and pop” brands whose names aren’t recognizable. “If we like it, if we think we can deliver something that’s different, that’s what we go for,” he says. “We don’t follow what’s the hottest brand right now.”
Examples include New York City’s Ronny Kobo, L.A.’s Rails and celebrity favorite Parker, to name a few. The Elektrik collection is young, hip and bold. “We do cater to 25- to 40-year-olds, but my dad, who is 60, gets everything at Elektrik in Vero Beach.”
Owning boutiques wasn’t always the Fort Lauderdale resident’s career goal. After investing in a Lincoln Road nightclub, Dougherty realized he had a passion for fashion. “I’d walk up to people at the club and ask, ‘Who are you wearing?’” he recalls. He was especially fascinated with the styles of the celebrities who would patronize the club. “Leonardo DiCaprio came in, football players, basketball players… and that’s when I realized that I wanted to take my fashion sense to the next level.” When he almost lost his investment in the club, he left the hospitality industry and opened Elektrik.
“I was interested in men’s fashion, but became so gung-ho about defining South Florida fashion that I knew I needed to include women’s, too,” Dougherty says. For him, shopping isn’t just about clothes, it’s about creating a statement and enjoying the experience – that’s why there is a wet bar on-site and why he’ll do just about anything for a customer.
“One of our customers who was attending her homecoming asked us not to sell the same dress she was buying. I moved the two other dresses from our Fort Lauderdale store to the Vero Beach store,” Dougherty says. “Elektrik isn’t a concept that’s just about brands or clothes or image, it’s bigger than that. From my team to our customers, it’s about being fearless.”