Kirna Zabete’s founder Beth Buccini in her shop’s new location in Bryn Mawr. All photography by Jim Graham
If you’re a fashionista, you’ve undoubtedly heard of Kirna Zabete, the high-end Soho boutique (and online store) where women can discover the latest designers and shop their favorites. What you may not know is that Kirna Zabete is owned by Brandywine Valley resident Beth Buccini, who graced the pages of Harper’s Bazaar’s December issue in a spread appropriately named “The Fashionable Life.”
Buccini moved to Chadds Ford five years ago with her husband and four children. “I basically left Manhattan kicking and screaming,” she says.
Photo by Jim Graham
After nearly 20 years there, the quiet countryside was a big change. But Buccini admits it has grown on her. “I can’t believe how much I enjoy the peace. I feel like I can take a deep breath,” she says. “It’s so beautiful and magical; I’m always happy to be home.”
Being a wife, a mother of four under the age of 13 and a business owner sounds taxing, but Buccini has it down to a science. She cites being “psycho organized,” a 5 a.m. wakeup time, and multi-tasking conference calls with school pickups as just a few of the ways she makes it all work. “I color code my calendar to correspond with each of my four children’s schedules, work appointments, and personal events,” she says. “Having the visual cue for what I need to be doing and where I need to be going really helps keep me on track.”
When a prime storefront location popped up on Lancaster Avenue in Bryn Mawr, only 45 minutes from home, Buccini jumped at the opportunity. “My kids go to school on the Main Line and whenever I’d talk to other moms it would always circle back to fashion,” she says.
The right demographics, an amazing space and the hunger for style gave Buccini the push she needed. “The store used to be a SEPTA station garage, so the ceilings are high and there’s great natural light,” she says.
Buccini hired interior designer Steven Gambrel—who designed the Soho store as well as her Chadds Ford home—to do the Bryn Mawr’s chic and sophisticated interior. “Steven really understands my spirit,” Buccini says.
Photo by Jim Graham
Black chandeliers, vibrant pops of color (including Kirna Zabete’s signature red), a plush pink shoe room and exposed ceiling beams give the space a fun, modern flair. It’s the perfect place to house designer pieces from Stella McCartney, YSL, Celine, Gucci and more.
When it comes to her personal style, Buccini, who was voted “best dressed” in high school, says, “I love to push my fashion boundaries, while remaining appropriate.” She cites Lee Radziwill (Jackie O’s sister) and London-based stylist Julia Sarr Jamois as her style icons and says she’s loved fashion for as long as she can remember. “I can tell you what I was wearing for every major event in my life, and in high school I used to write down every outfit I wore,” says Buccini.
When asked about upcoming trends, she says, “I hate the idea of trends. Fashion is about finding your own personal style and knowing what looks best on you.”
The past few years have been a whirlwind for Buccini and Kirna Zabete. First, she bought out her business partner of 17 years, Sarah Easley, becoming the sole owner. Next, she opened a pop-up shop in East Hampton, which, after a hugely successful season, is now a year-round boutique. Last fall, Buccini opened Kirna Zabete in Bryn Mawr and this fall she plans to open the doors on a Palm Beach location. Meanwhile, Buccini also completely revamped her website to grow her e-commerce business which she calls “a natural extension” of the brand. (We’d be remiss to not also mention that Kirna Zabete created capsule collections with three big retailers: Target in 2012, Nine West in 2013, and Gilt.com in 2015.)
With so much competition in the retail space, how does Buccini keep Kirna Zabete fresh, relevant and oft-visited? “Since opening in 1999, I’ve had the same mission: to have the best edit of the most important designers of today and tomorrow,” she says.
Buccini is known for talent-scouting, having first discovered labels like Thakoon and Veronica Beard when they were unknown designers. A great selection of clothing and stellar customer service is what Buccini believes sets her apart from other stores. She also believes that shopping is an experience and she strives to make her stores a destination women want to visit. “Everyday you have to put clothes on and you want to feel great,” she says. “I want customers to look and feel their best.”
Photo by Jim Graham
While Buccini is known to dress celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow and Cameron Diaz and pal around with Jessica Seinfield, she leads a more low-key life when she’s home in Chadds Ford. The weekends are usually spent on lockdown with her family. Buccini loves to stay in and entertain, horseback ride with her children and visit her favorite local shops and restaurants. “My husband and I love La Fia in Wilmington and Sovana Bistro in Kennett Square. We also love to take the kids to Ravanesi Pizza in Glen Mills. It’s definitely the best pizza in the area,” she says.
For the perfect gift Buccini visits Wild Thyme in Centreville. (“The owner, Laurie, has the best taste.”) For home décor and a dose of inspiration she loves Terrain. (“I’ve been asked 3 different times for my company ID, so clearly I’m there a lot.”)
What does the arrival of summer mean for Buccini? “My goal is to be in a bathing suit as much as possible,” she says. “I love a great cover-up. I also love the idea of a summer dress. You pair one with flats for day and heels at night, throw on a pair of fabulous earrings, and you’re all set.”
Buccini’s upbringing in Virginia Beach is the reason she loves the surf and sand. “I just love being near the water,” she says.