For 11 years, Eunhi Kim sat behind the counter of her Westwood Boulevard clothing boutique and dreamed of becoming a painter.
At the end of May, Kim will close Crisalide, a boutique store that sells shoes, clothes and accessories, to focus on fulfilling her dream of creating a masterpiece.
Kim said Crisalide, located in the Holmby Hall clock tower building, has not made a profit in five years, so she supported the store with income from another property she owns.
Kim attributed the store’s consistently declining revenue to changes in students’ shopping habits.
“Several years ago, the economy was good and people could afford expensive dresses, but after the recession, people’s spending habits changed,” Kim said. “Now, I have to compete with cheap online retailers.”
Kim, who began painting at the age of 10, moved to Los Angeles 25 years ago after graduating from an art school in South Korea. She worked as a painter and sold her work to galleries before becoming a full-time mother.
In 2005, Kim opened Crisalide with help from her niece, who gave her advice about building her business. They named the store after a butterfly’s chrysalis, or cocoon.
Kim said she continued running the store despite its deficit because she felt attached to the community and enjoyed talking to customers. She painted in her spare time and displayed her work around the store, but was motivated to pursue painting full time after a cancer scare in 2015, she added.
“When I found out I would have a long life, I wanted to have a different life,” Kim said.
Kim said she thinks the boom in online retail makes it difficult for her and other small business owners to profit enough to afford high Westwood Village rents.
“The Village is notorious for (businesses) coming in and losing money,” Kim said. “There’s no parking for customers and students don’t come here often.”
Kim said she will live on income from another property, and intends to paint for herself for a while instead of selling her work to galleries.
Martin Sellmeyer, the building’s manager, said a few businesses, including Amazon, have looked into leasing the space, but he is unsure which will move into the building.
“We’re looking for a solid, long-term tenant,” Sellmeyer said.
Kathleen Robbins, a third-year Russian and political science student, said she came to Crisalide to find a specific type of shoe.
“I don’t think there’s another store like it in Westwood,” Robbins said. “It’s a good resource for students to get cheap (shoes and clothing).”
Crisalide will continue its clearance sale until it closes on May 31.