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Watch now: MiMi’s Boutique brings African styles to Bloomington’s Eastland Mall | Local Business

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Watch now: MiMi's Boutique brings African styles to Bloomington's Eastland Mall | Local Business
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Mimi Lam stated she wants people treated the same as she does when she walks into a shop.

BLOOMINGTON — Mimi Lam said she wants to treat people the same way she likes to be treated when she walks into a boutique.

Born in Senegal in West Africa, the 34-year old Bloomington woman is now ready and available to help customers look their very best. MiMi’s Boutique. It’s at Suite 1310 in the Eastland Mall, just south and east down the hall from Maurices.



Mimi Lam inspects an earrings display at MiMi’s Boutique at Eastland Mall on Sunday. The Senegal-born woman recently relocated to Bloomington from New York City.


Brendan Denison


The store opened in October after a soft opening. It has been open every day since Nov 2. Hours of operation are from 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. every day, except Saturdays when the store is open from 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. Sundays are closed at 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. It’s staffed by Mimi Lam herself.

Her vision is to try to accommodate everyone’s style needs. She showed this by wearing an African-print jacket and black pants on Sunday. She said that Senegal prints can go with just about any color.

“I can wear this, it’s very comfortable and I can go into the office,”She said, “and it’s very stylish and nice.”



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Mimi Lam inspects the skirt made of wax printed fabric in Senegal on Sunday, November 28, 2021. MiMi’s Boutique Eastland Mall’s owner sells traditional African prints clothing as well as modern styles.


Brendan Denison


Lam could spend 60 to 90 minute with a single customer. This includes helping them through several outfit changes and fitting multiple dresses, earrings, and head-wraps. She compares it to a personal assistant. fashion show.

She stated that she wants to be open with customers and help them feel at ease with themselves.

“Everybody’s welcome,” Lam said. “I want everyone to be able to wear this, feel this and know about this,” she said of her wares.

And customers are not obligated to make a purchase. Lam is eager to teach others about her culture and the meaning behind her fabrics.


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An entire section of Lam’s store is traditional African wax print shirts, dresses and skirts. Lam stated that this style is also called Ankara in Nigerian and Ghana.

She explained that Kenyan styles use darker tones while Senegal uses brighter tones and purples. Also, tailors reuse scrap fabrics for jewelry and head wraps. They try to avoid throwing away anything. 



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Mimi Lam, owner and operator of MiMi’s Boutique in the Eastland Mall, holds up earrings with a wax print bow and hoop earrings. The Bloomington business owner was born in Senegal and explained that African tailors repurpose scrap fabrics to make jewelry and don’t throw away any. 


Brendan Denison


Lam said she’s lucky that her mom “makes everything for me,”he has been working in the tailoring industry in Senegal for over 40 years.

“She makes all the dresses,”She added that her sister helps to source more modern clothing.

Lam says that the traditional attire is traditionally made by senior women who have enough time. And, that’s reminiscent of their close-knit family bonds, she said, where everyone helps each other out and crafts together.

However, travel lockdowns during COVID are difficult for the boutique owner. She said she used to travel home to inspect products and feel them firsthand before ordering. Additional grief has been caused by supply chain problems.

From the Big Apple to Bloomington

In 2015, Lam opened her first business, Mimi’s African Closet, at 116th Street and Lenox in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City. Lam said her first store didn’t include modern pop culture style, so she’s looking to expand on that with her latest venture.

Lam stated that she attended high school in New Jersey while living with her brother. She also attended Borough of Manhattan Community College. She’s currently taking online business administration courses offered by Hostos Community College in New York.



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Mimi Lam removes a wax-print belt from storage at her newly opened shop, MiMi’s Boutique in the Eastland Mall.


Brendan Denison


She stated that her family is a majority of their business owners. The Bloomington boutique owner, who is the second youngest of ten siblings, is also the second-oldest. One sister still owns a clothing shop in New York City.

She said that she visited a sister living in Bloomington before moving to the Midwest and ended up loving it. She decided it was time to get away from the bustling Big Apple and set up shop in the Twin Cities.

Lam knew she was in the right place when she visited her current Eastland Mall retail space, which used to house Seno Formal Wear. Clutch purses featuring African wax prints, mannequin heads sporting beanies and head wraps, and clutches with clutch handles are now displayed on glass tables with Roman column supports.

Her shop sells clothing for children, women and men. Accessories, jewelry, sunglasses, and handbags are also available. The shop also offers clothing for plus-sizes and can take custom orders.

MiMi’s Boutique has seen many buyers visit from Chicago and Peoria, and a few from St. Louis. Customers often stop by the boutique before they fly to Africa and ask for advice on what to wear.



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The left side shows a traditional African statement choker, which is currently on sale at MiMi’s Boutique at Eastland Mall.


Brendan Denison


She may suggest that they wear a simple, plain dress and add some accessories to their outfit.

“You don’t always have to wear a full African outfit to an event,”She spoke.

Photos: Backstage at the Holiday Spectacular with cast and crew

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112821-blm-loc-2spectacular

“Holiday Spectacular”Robert Mangialardi (left) and Andy Kreiss (right), who play the lead characters; playwright Nancy Steele Brokaw and director Lori Adams; and scenery designerJohn Stark and the Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts discuss stage requirements on Tuesday. 



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112821-blm-loc-1spectacular

Tricia Hayden, Sophie Remmert and Laura O’Connor dancers in Holiday Spectacular, Penny Wink, Alicia Brown, and Penny Wink practice their routines “Rockettes”routine backstage on Tuesday. The popular Christmas variety showDec. 4 & 5 at the Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts



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112821-blm-loc-3spectacular

Lori Adams, Holiday Spectacular director sets up one showDuring Tuesday’s run-through,’s huge dance and song routines were displayed. 



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112821-blm-loc-4spectacular

Robert Mangialardi and Andy Kreiss, Holiday Spectacular entertainers, practice their act during a run through at the Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts.



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112821-blm-loc-5spectacular

Performers Lidsey and Steve Stoewer do a cartwheel before their run-through on Tuesday, November 23, 2021.



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112821-blm-loc-6spectacular

During a run-through of the Holiday Spectacular, Nov. 23, 2021 a cart filled with colorful props is parked backstage.



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112821-blm-loc-7spectacular

Stephanie Mauman, Holiday Spectacular costume coordination coordinator, creates a costume organizer for performers onstage before a run through, Tuesday, November 23, 2021.



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112821-blm-loc-8spectacular

Robert Mangialardi and Andy Kreiss, Holiday Spectacular entertainers, practice their act during a run through at the Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts on Tuesday, November 23, 2021.



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112821-blm-loc-9spectacular

Lori Adams, Holiday Spectacular director arranges a scene just before a run through, Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2021.



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112821-blm-loc-10spectacular

The Holiday Spectacular cast and staff work on a scene issue before a run through, Tuesday, November 23, 2021. The popular Christmas variety showDec. 4 & 5 at the Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts



Contact Brendan Denison at (309) 820-3238. Follow Brendan Denison Twitter: @BrendanDenison


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