'Katz Meow

For the three ladies at the helm of local image and styling consulting company Sophistikatz, the grand opening of the Sophistikatz Boutique on Friday, August 5, isn't just a new notch in the Phoenix fashion scene: It's a family affair.

Business manager Muizzah "Mo" Carman, marketing director Iman Whitmore and creative director Yasmin Ibrahim (pictured, from left) are biological sisters, transplants from Kansas who've lived most of their lives in the Valley. And now they want to make a mark on the downtown arts scene.

After visiting Four White Walls on a First Friday ArtWalk, the sisters immediately leased part of the building for their boutique. The trio has been putting on monthly fashion shows at the Paper Heart, and wanted their store to be among the Grand Avenue galleries.

"This area is like a little Melrose," says Carman.

With an eye toward vintage and unusual items, including paisley patterns, psychedelic prints, colorful corduroy pants and antique shoes, Sophistikatz aims to bring more flavor to the area. "We want to bring more culture," says Ibrahim. "And Arizona is hungry for culture, whether they know it or not. So we're gonna force-feed them."

Whitmore buys most of the boutique stock, scouring estate sales for the best finds. "It's gotta be something different, different than anything else you'll see," Whitmore says. "A lot of people who have bought out of our boutique come back and say they get compliments on what they bought. That's what we want."

For the grand opening, the ladies of Sophistikatz will be giving away some prizes, including a DVD player to the 100th person through the door. Ultimately, the trio plans to hang art from local artists on the walls and highlight a different local designer every month. "There's a lot of great talent and a lot of great designers here," says Whitmore. "We'd like to help put them on the map."