Samantha Martell, the beautiful and lively owner and editor of  the Downtown Denver News just forwarded a copy of this article she found about me during the days I was a shop keep in the Tennyson Street Art & Shopping District. Pretty heady stuff, I say.

Silvana L’Amour Embraces The Spirit of Women

“If you are craving a stimulating and interesting conversation with someone who is bursting with personality in an atmosphere that engages the senses, spend an afternoon with Silvana Vukadin-Hoitt at her Tennyson Street store, Silvana L’Amour. You will step in the door with curious caution and try to find the words to describe the eclectic sense of style that will overwhelm you. In one corner of the small, but satisfyingly full store you might find a collection of playful lingerie, in another, cocktail napkins with charmingly humorous quotes inscribed on them. Leopard print wallpaper and fabrics will jump out at you and the many textural fabrics and collections of seashells will make you wonder whether you have stepped into India or the beaches of California.
Silvana shares her style philosophy when she says, “I am a big believer in fusion of cultures. I like traditional and modern. I sell antique Asian furniture from Afghanistan and Pakistan but I fuse it with modern things too. I just have a love for many, different styles and lots of pretty things.
And Silvana L’Amour is full of those pretty things. Silvana carries a variety of treasures like rings that were featured recently in In Style magazine, Votivo candles, Lum soaps and soy candles, ‘Love Letter’, locally made vintage slips, her own handmade amulets, Turkish jewelry and sparkly necklaces from New York and L.A. She specifically features art by local artists like Carla Rey Lankford.

Silvana says the name of her store and it’s logo is meant to be humorous. “It’s like Marilyn Monroe meets Peppy Le Pew,” she says smiling. “I didn’t want to take myself  too seriously. The name gave me the freedom to do what I wanted without having to cave to being a conventional women’s boutique. When I was trying to come up with a name for the store, I went through every language and I was inspired by the word ‘love.’ Creating this store was a definite love and a passion of mine. I think the name embodies the sense of romantic love, a bit of European flair and I liked the silliness of it. I’m having fun with my life!”

Silvana Vukadin-Hoitt is a strong, charismatic woman with a respect for the role that women have played in and throughout her life and the role that they continue to play as her business peers on Tennyson Street.
Silvana reflects, “There are so many wonderful people on this street who have been so encouraging from the beginning. And many of the stores on Tennyson are run and owned by women. I was really excited to be on a street with so many women. We all compliment and support each other well.So many different women can bring so many different talents and styles to an area. There’s no competition between us-just encouragement and support. When I opened my store, everyone was so welcoming and accepting. There’s a definite cool female energy on this street.”

Tennyson Street truly is a buffet for the ever-changing moods and styles of women. Silvana L’Amour offers items for the seductress and exotic woman, while Studio Bini carries specially designed children’s products and clothing for the doting mom. Sweet Potato appeals to the acclaimed cook or domestic goddess with its fun take on kitchen goods. Many women are at least one of these personalities, or maybe all of them at different stages in their life, or even in just at stages throughout a single day! On Tennyson Street, you can cater to all your moods and find a “hat” that fits each role.

Silvana understands and appreciates that most women also need a little pampering once in awhile too, “As a woman, I want to be beautiful and I want to be pampered and express my spirituality as well. I don’t want to be put in a box. Women aren’t just one thing or another, we have so many sides to express.” She recently opened up a boutique-style spa that will be an extension of her store. She chose to open her spa on Tennyson Street as well, a few doors down from Silvana L’Amour.

“I wanted the spa to have a neighborhood feel. And I wanted it to be an intimate, walk-up spa,” she says. And by “walk-up” she means that you actually have to walk up a narrow, staircase entered directly from a door off the sidewalk to visit the spa. Just like most of Tennyson Street, it feels like you are uncovering a great, hidden treasure as you take the stairs to the spa.

Silvana’s spa might be one of Tennyson Street’s most surprising secrets yet. A bright, vibrant color of pink washes over the walls and the shutters over the windows have been intricately carved with breathtaking designs, infusing the light that shines through and highlights the design detail. The design in itself is a work of art. Every detail in the spa looks as if it has been brought back from voyages to other countries. From the art and colors on the walls, to the jars and detailed boxes on shelves, with her design style Silvana has truly captured the essence of a “spa getaway.”

“The spa developed naturally out of the store because I sell top-of-the-line skincare products for the face. I wanted to be able to focus more on facials and skincare but it developed into this beautiful quaint atmosphere for the skin, body, and mind,” marvels Silvana at the transformation of the upstairs spa.
The spa is for both men and women and focuses on various types of massage, energy healing techniques, and facial products. Silvana wants the spa to be a place that is comfortable for both women and men and feels that the products and treatments offered are essential for a healthy lifestyle.

“I think energy work is extremely important to incorporate with massage,” encourages Silvana. Energy healers work with the aura (human energy field) to notice imbalances in the auric field via clairvoyant sight, subtle touch, or some sort of psychic connection. One specific form of energy healing is called “Reiki” which is similar to Chi Kung healing.

“I didn’t want to do the typical route with my spa. I wanted to offer something different. But basically I just wanted it to be a little jewel, a little haven of relaxation,” says Silvana. “It should be like an urban retreat for people to visit after a day of shopping and enjoying Tennyson St., a place for people to ‘bliss out’ and escape from the world.”

The spa offers original “hamam” or Turkish steam bath products imported from Turkey, as well as art by local Darcy Phillipps on the walls throughout. Silvana is in the process of developing her own personal line of lotions and soaps that she hopes to make available at the spa in the near future. Spa packages and various spa deals will be available each month.

The inspiration for Silvana’s store and spa expands from a great love and respect for the women in her family. “Both my mother and my grandmother were very big influences on me- which I think is true for most of women in one way or another. My sense of style definitely comes from my mum, a great beauty who was born in Bosnia and Herzegovia and later moved to Germany. She always had this innate grace and class and was way ahead of her time in style and fashion. And she is still like that today. Amazing!
My grandmother, who’s family owned large tracts of land and forests in Central Bosnia was famous for her herb gathering skills and home-made remedies that she made with natural plants and seeds. She would gather these on her daily, long walks in the country-side almost every day of her life. Sometimes she walked ten or twenty miles a day. Till she was in her 80’s. Natural healing & herb remedy is a tradition with the women of Bosnia, and she was exemplary of that ancient tradition. Whether you come from rich or poor, when times are tough, these women fall back on their own natural remedies that have been handed down for centuries from mother to daughter, so that history is in my veins” says Silvana with obvious respect for her storied family history.

Silvana also has a deep respect for the women who continue to live in Bosnia and the daily struggles they face, “It’s always been my passion to contribute to Bosnia. I will continue to help the women and children who are affected by the last war.  I have planned an art installation this summer with an artist from Bosnia to create awareness of  women affected by war. This is an issue that is important to me as a woman and as a mother.”
Silvana’s hope is to make an impression on others and an impact on the world through the things that she does and the joy she hopes to bring to those who visit her store or spa, “I want people to feel free and uplifted and maybe take away something to think about too. Style, fashion, philosophy….I want to help them express themselves, whether it be through lingerie or art or the act of hearing stories from past traditions. My store blends experience with fantasy. That’s exactly what I want my store to do…it’s who I am.”
by Brianna Conrad, June, Two Thousand and Four