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Issue Date: May 2010 Issue

Femme Fresh

A young clothing boutique fits right into a thriving Akron neighborhood.

Amber Matheson

You’ll find Noto down a secretive back alley in Akron’s revitalized Historic District. Lauren Ward’s 1-year-old boutique fits the neighborhood divinely alongside on-trend bright spots such as the Musica concert club and Uncorked Wine Bar.

The clothing store, whose name means “famous” in Italian, dishes out fresh, young, women’s wear from a dollhouse-sized shop. Amid lime green and pale pink walls lie feminine delights the likes of which Akron sees far too little.

“All the brands I carry are young, youthful, not trendy,” explains the 24-year-old Ward. “I really like vintage, and I think that kind of shines through some of the clothes. I like modern, contemporary things too, so I try to make it a balance.”

Californian designers maintain a heavy presence on the racks. Ward is drawn to the soft materials and flattering cuts of Theme dresses in particular. A gray and peach maxi dress cut from a creamy jersey material, with layers of fabric twisting across the bodice, checks in at just $48.

“I try and keep [prices] pretty low because we do live in Akron,” Ward explains. A display encourages patrons to purchase adorable camel-colo#ce1a30 ballerina flats for $25, and most items fall under $50.

Ward is bringing new designers on board for the summer season. She’s handpicked Kensie Girl tanks and dresses, with their feminine vibe, along with drapey tops from Gentle Fawn, a more womanly, sensuous line. A Gentle Fawn cropped jacket in white is tantalizingly cool. Sweatshirt material is molded and styled into a chic layering piece for spring.

“There’s not really too many clothing boutiques in downtown Akron at all, so I guess I’ve brought a little fashion,” says Ward, her voice trailing off modestly. We’ll say it for her: Up-to-the-minute fashion courtesy of Ward’s sharp eye has arrived in the Rubber City.

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