By Kristina Houck
Due to growing demand for high-end fashions from Ruth Melero’s North County customers, the San Diego-based entrepreneur opened her second store in March in Del Mar’s Flower Hill Promenade. The first Melero Boutique & Gallery opened in Little Italy more than three years ago.
“Our customers love our one-of-a-kind products, but some were having a hard time driving all the way to Little Italy,” Melero said.
From lace blouses and dresses by Exetera in Paris, to hand-crafted earrings and necklaces by La Jolla-based designer Leslie Fastlicht Russo, Melero Boutique & Gallery offers a variety of women’s apparel and accessories. Specializing in European styles, Melero travels to Paris, Munich or Berlin every six months to stock her stores with the latest fashions from popular and emerging designers.
“I have things that don’t exist in San Diego,” Melero said. “It’s unique. It makes Melero Boutique & Gallery rare and different from anybody else.”
Passionate about discovering up-and-coming designers, Melero said she only purchases items she would wear.
“If I believe in it and I love it, I know I’ll sell it,” Melero said.
Longtime customer Sonya Berg, who lives near Del Mar, said she frequents the boutique to shop for horse racing season and polo matches.
“I love her clothes. I like that they have an ethnic flair, and they’re not like any other clothes you can find around San Diego,” Berg said. “She carries a lot of stuff that’s great for our Del Mar lifestyle.”
Using $2,000 she won from a beauty competition, Melero opened her first store in Durango, Mexico, shortly after graduating from high school.
“It was hilarious because I was 19 years old,” Melero said. “My high school friends would purchase things. It was just a great experience.”
Before closing the shop to study business and international commerce in college, Melero traveled by bus from Durango to Monterrey, Mexico, for two years to purchase clothing to sell.
Now 34 years old and inspired by her travels and love of fashion, Melero is currently developing a jewelry line with her friend Bettina Estes. Vlu is expected to launch in both boutique locations by the end of the year.
“There’s going to be pieces that you’re never going to want to take off,” Melero said. “They’re statement pieces that represent you and are very personalized.”
In addition to discovering the latest trends and designing her first line of jewelry, Melero produces and directs various fashion events and photo shoots. As a personal stylist, Melero also offers in-store and in-home wardrobe consultations, encouraging her clients to “think outside the box” and try on new styles.
“A lot of people get discouraged,” Melero said. “When you walk in and you’re looking at something that’s hanging, it’s not the same as when you wear it.”
Although she admits her selection can be pricey for the casual shopper, Melero said customers on a budget can get a new look by building their wardrobe slowly.
“If you come here on a monthly basis and choose one item, your closet is going to be out of this world by the end of the year,” Melero said. “Start getting timeless pieces that are going to be in your wardrobe forever.”
For more information about Melero Boutique & Gallery or to shop online, visit
- Melero Boutique & Gallery is located at Flower Hill Mall, 2710 Via de la Valle, Suite B-150, Del Mar, 92014; (858) 259-7467.