Each was provoked by circumstances beyond her control and came as a complete surprise. At each of those moments, Ohmori chose the path of family and community – and she’s thrilled at the outcome, with a new store in downtown Mill Valley.
Ohmori is the owner of the UKO clothing stores in Mill Valley and San Francisco’s Hayes Valley, home to women’s clothing that Ohmori designs herself and sources from places like Paris, Tokyo and Italy.
Ohmori originally opened Boutique UKO with her ex-husband and longtime business partner David Scott on Union Street in San Francisco in 1986 and developed a stellar reputation for clothing that is “stylish, unique and artsy, timeless and ageless, with very reasonable price,” Ohmori says.
In February 2015, Scott died just four weeks after being diagnosed with cancer. As the father of their two daughters – “they were both devastated,” Scott was an integral part of Ohmori’s life. Scott largely ran the San Francisco store, and Ohmori knew her work would double.
Soon thereafter, Ohmori was informed that despite having one of the most popular retail shops in the Corte Madera Town Center shopping mall – UKO opened there three years earlier to see if their clothing would connect with the North Bay community – her lease wasn’t being negotiated in favor to UKO. In the wake of Scott’s passing, the timing was far from ideal.
Ohmori had no choice but to close the Corte Madera store at the end of May and began looking for space elsewhere. She had an attractive offer from another high-end shopping center in Marin, one that she would’ve taken if her criteria was purely financial.
“Even though I was very flattered and happy to find out that such a small business like ours had been noticed and desired, I chose Mill Valley location because this is our community – I love this town,” Ohmori says. “This is the only hometown my girls have ever known.”
Ohmori’s daughter Maya had left college to be with her father. After his passing, Maya started to help Ohmori with everything to do with moving to the new location. On August 13, the night before they opened to the public, they dressed the mannequins, removed the brown paper from the front window and went outside to look in.
“I didn’t know if I could do the renovation without David's brilliant ability of it," Ohmori says. “Maya really helped me get through it day and night. And in that moment, we were just happy. It had been so hard to get to that point.”
Born and raised in Japan, Ohmori was a professional fashion stylist, working on fashion shows in Tokyo and for a Japanese fashion designer in Paris. She moved to the United States at the age of 20 and double majored in international business and fashion merchandise.
With her new Mill Valley store open and many of her Marin customers discovering her new home each week , Ohmori is excited to continue developing her clothing, which sees as distinctly creative and affordable.”
Instead of going to fashion shows and copying fashion magazines, I would go to museums or on nature walks – that’s where I get inspiration about things like color and shape,” Ohmori says.
The 411: UKO is located at 75 Throckmorton Ave. 415-326-5088. More info.