It’s no secret that Montclair has a wide array of chic boutiques to choose from, but one Upper Montclair retail location that has been in business for the past 24 years is especially unique. Co Co an Experience, located at 206 Bellevue Avenue, has been Upper Montclair’s go-to fashion resource for over two decades. Owner Roz Connolly’s long-time passion for fashion resulted in the creation of a high-end women’s boutique that offered brands that clients could not find elsewhere. Over the years, the store evolved with its loyal clientele but continues to showcase emerging lines and quality staples at inviting price points. Read on to learn more about Roz Connolly and Co Co an Experience, an Upper Montclair fashion staple.
The Montclair Girl: Tell us about yourself! How did you get into fashion? When did it all start?
Roz Connolly: As a kid, I always had specific ideas about my likes and dislikes when it came to what I wore, very frustrating for my parents. I would revamp my dolls’ wardrobes or make new outfits for them based on what I saw celebs wearing. I can remember cutting up an ivory satin bedspread because I thought it would look great on a doll in my collection — Mom was very unhappy!
My career took me into the men’s fashion world, assisting the owner of the company with quality control and inspections of menswear apparel. There were many trips to Asia — to ensure correct specs, etc. — before the merchandise left factories for delivery in the US. After that business ended, my career took me into women’s fashion for a while. I loved shopping, searching for the perfect garments, and putting different looks together — plus reading all the fashion magazines and publications.
MG: When did you open Co Co an Experience? Have you always been in the same location on Bellevue?
RC: Co Co an Experience Inc. opened on July 21, 1998, and this year we will be celebrating our 24th birthday at 206 Bellevue Avenue. The choice of Upper Montclair came about from an acquaintance that lived in town and knew of a retail spot becoming available and is only seven minutes away from my home in Clifton.
MG: What does “Co Co an Experience” mean?
RC: I met the person who would become my partner at Co Co an Experience Inc. Her Last name began with Co, so did mine: hence Co Co. We added “an experience” because that’s what we wanted it to be when you shopped at Co Co! When that partnership ended, rather than changing the name, I kept it as Co Co after my married surname (Connolly + Connolly).
MG: How would you describe your store?
RC: A feast for the eyes is a good description of my store. There’s always a lot to look at! The vibe is kind of easy — we encourage our guests to check it all out. We’re there for any questions or help with putting a look together or coordinating something of theirs with something ours. Seasonal clothing from BOHO type skirts (I do LOVE a good skirt) and dresses, to jeans and t-shirts as well as camis and blouses and jewelry, some made by local artisans.
Some of this season’s customer favorites are Line the Label, Deborah Viereck, and Pistola Denim. There’s also fantastic handbags made by Couture Planet that I adore — they utilize New York Times pages that are laminated and turned into clutches as well as top handle bags. It’s important to me that everyone who shops our store leaves feeling happy and confident with their purchase. I love when you can see that “I like the way I look” on a customer’s face. My mission is to continue sharing our knowledge about the items we sell and providing the best customer service that our clients appreciate.
MG: We love how you are always giving style tips on your Instagram with #RozSays. What are some of the top trends for spring/summer that you are excited about?
RC: I have to give credit to Barbara Lemley at Identity in Design who is responsible for our “Roz Says” campaign and our great social media program. As far as top trends for spring and summer, I love the wider leg pants and jeans — so fabulous to dress up or dress down. Pair with a Recycled Karma rock icon tee, an Emily Lovelock tropical print blouse, or an Another Love crocheted cami — you’ll be styling for days! I’m a big fan of tie-dye and am so glad that bold and colorful prints have made a return on dresses, pants, tops — everything! Accessories have taken a quirky spin so it’s super fun to mix and match this season.
MG: If you have a day off from the store, what’s your favorite way to spend it?
RC: Days off are usually spent running errands around town. I enjoy cooking and baking and, of course, checking out the latest fashion magazines. I love to support many local businesses — Over the Moon and Pink Bungalow for gifts, Angelbeck’s for a nice bottle of wine. Of course, Utopia Nails for mani-pedis and A Natural Image — Sandy does the best facials. When I can get away to Montclair Center, I make a stop to Paul at White Rabbit Black Heart to stock up on our favorite Sweet Home Montclair chocolate-covered almonds. And did I mention restaurants? Some of the best are in Montclair so we have too many favorites.
MG: What do you like most about Montclair?
RC: Diversity, diversity, diversity is what makes this town so special.
MG: What’s next for Co Co an Experience?
RC: Next for Co Co an Experience, after all this time, I’ll continue to search for the latest, greatest fashion finds to share with our customers, many of whom we know since the store opened. Thankful they’ve come along for the ride!