Sisters Lisa, left, and Cara Rooney, right, started Girltauk as an at-home boutique for their friends in Montauk, an opportunity for girl talk. Next month they’ll open the doors to new store on Jobs Lane. Photo by Michael Heller.
By Mara Certic
It’s been a hard few years for mom-and-pops on the East End, with rents continuing to increase and more and more money coming in from out-of-town. But next month, when sisters Cara and Lisa Rooney hold the grand opening of their new boutique in Southampton, it’ll be a small win for family businesses.
After over a year of looking for a way to make their dreams of success come true on the East End, Cara and Lisa finally found themselves a storefront and on May 1, the Rooney sisters will open the doors to their boutique and personal styling service, Girltauk, located at 10a Jobs Lane.
“The idea behind Girltauk, originally, was to get the local girls together, drink some wine and have girl talk,” said Lisa, 26, at her sister’s cottage last week. “And then on the side, do some shopping and get some cool clothes out of it, too.”
People often mistake Cara and Lisa for twins, but the sisters are two-and-a-half years apart and swear they couldn’t be more different. Cara, 23, played competitive soccer all through school, garnering herself a scholarship to Fordham, where she played division one soccer and graduated from in 2013.
“Soccer was my job,” she said last week, adding that her background in competitive soccer has found her usually sporting comfortable, laid-back fashions. “And it kept me out of trouble,” she said.
Lisa agreed, and said that Cara’s discipline and dedication to soccer stopped her from repeating some of her big sister’s mistakes.
In terms of clothing, Lisa described herself as loud, showy, gaudy and edgy (“and always in high heels!”), and although very different from her sister, has been her style advisor since they were donning diapers. While Lisa never played competitive sports herself, she said, “the way Cara played soccer was the way I would work. I don’t think I’ve ever called in sick. I started my first job in Montauk at age 12.”
The sisters, originally from Whitestone, Queens, have spent their summers on the East End since their parents bought a house in Montauk in 1995. Lisa spent her adolescence working in different restaurants, eventually working her way up to the infamous graveyard shift at Salivar’s when she was just 17.
“Honestly Montauk saved my life. If I didn’t have Montauk to escape to, I would have felt very lost,” Lisa said. During high school she battled with eating disorders, which is a huge driving force behind the girls’ desire to make women look and feel beautiful.
“We’re trying to slowly, one outfit at a time, help women feel their best. Because there was a very long time when I didn’t,” she said.
“You want to surround yourself by people who feel good, and that’s what we’re trying to do,” Lisa said. “And I think it takes a lot for women to feel good these days,” she added.
Growing up watching her big sister and style-guru struggle with eating disorders was enough to make Cara want to convince other women to feel comfortable and love their bodies, too.
Lisa worked in a few local boutiques to learn the retail business, employing the help of her sister every time she was in town. “We always had this idea that we’d love to have our own store,” Cara said.
In November 2012, Cara and Lisa’s older brother Eric died suddenly. “It was very life-changing and made us see it was time, it was time to cut the cord,” Lisa said.
“We realized that life’s too short to just have a passion for something, you might as well make your own dreams come true,” Cara added.
So the sisters did everything they could to make their dream of owning a store a reality. And then last year they started Girltauk, an at-home boutique trunk show, where their friends would come over, hang out, and buy clothes.
After almost two years of living room trunk shows, and the occasional pop-up shop, the Rooney sisters are now making their dreams of owning a store a reality, and now thanks to the 80-hour bartending weeks Lisa worked last summer and the 23 years of birthday money Cara has frugally saved, their shop will open up on Jobs Lane on May 1.
Girltauk will be sharing storefront space with Keogh, clothing designed by their new partner, Erin McQuail. “She’s a designer and we’re buyers so together it’ll flow nicely,” Lisa said.
“Girltauk is for every girl,” Lisa said. “She’s the beachy girl, she’s the business owner, she’s the stay at home mom. Everyone can walk away with something. And it works,” she said, “because Cara and I have such different styles.”
Girltauk + Keogh will have its grand opening at 10a Jobs Lane on Friday, May 1. For more information, follow @girltauk on Instagram.