In 2018, Oak Park Mall put on a holiday collective (several boutiques operating under one roof) called Boutique in a Box and Nzioki Hult opened Tabu Knits Boutique in the spot.
She’s been at the Overland Park mall ever since.
After the holidays, she moved to the front of the collective and operated more like a storefront. Then she moved to a space with higher foot traffic. Two years ago, as sales increased and she built a loyal following, she expanded to a larger space in the center of the mall.
“They’ve always been able to create opportunities for me. Karla (Rocker Engel), the general manager, has mentored me,” she said. “I wanted to grow.”
Sean Phillips, senior marketing director for Oak Park Mall, said: “We are really proud of where Tabu has started and where it is today. It is one of our greatest success stories as an incubator, to help local businesses grow. People don’t think of starting a business at a mall. It is a great place because of our foot traffic.
Nzioki Hult started knitting when she was a child, learning from her mother who is still knitting in her 80s. Her mother, a teacher, always was fashionably dressed and influenced Nzioki Hult’s interest in fabrics and tailoring as a teenager.
Now Nzioki Hult knits the “the big chunky” Tabu Knits baby blankets herself, along with baby sweaters, but carries pet accessories and women’s clothing from other brands.
“I’m going after special event collections, that’s my niche,” she said.
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Joyce Smith has covered restaurant and retail news for The Star since 1989 under the brand Cityscape. She appreciates news tips.