A Vera Bradley store has opened at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) Terminal 1 (T1). The outlet is the first independently owned and operated store for Skyview Concessions founder and CEO Apryl Stewart, a 100% Airport Concession Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (ACDBE) operator. The store offers a range of Vera Bradley products, including quilted cotton luggage, handbags and backpacks, and employs seven people.
A graduate of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program, Stewart is a member of the Airport Minority Advisory Council (AMAC), and has a bachelor of science in business administration from the University of Southern California and a master of business administration from the University of Phoenix.
Stewart began her career in the airport business more than 20 years ago, starting as a sales manager for DFS (Duty Free Shopping). She has subsequently held roles including merchandise buyer and assistant general manager at LAX’s Tom Bradley International Terminal and director of stores for Concourse Concessions.
While working for DFS, Stewart noticed a plaque stating that the LAX store was owned in a joint venture partnership with DFS. She inquired about partnership opportunities and was introduced to the Airport Minority Advisory Council, where she subsequently represented DFS. Her exposure to women and minority business owners helped her realize that it was possible for her to own her own store. Soon after, the first-generation entrepreneur created Skyview Concessions.
Stewart has partnered with travel retail operators including Paradies Lagardère, Hudson Group, Areas and DFS to operate airport retail from newsstands, specialty concepts, and duty-free and food and beverage concepts at LAX and San Francisco International Airport (SFO).
Her store features a variety of Vera Bradley merchandise as well as a selection of Pura Vida hand-crafted bracelets and jewelry.
“Owning and operating my own store at LAX is a dream come true,” Stewart said. “When I started as a retail sales manager at LAX, I only dreamed of owning a store at one of the world’s largest and busiest airports. Now I am living that dream.”
URW is the customer experience specialist for LAX. Chris Adkins, director of URW’s Advance Network initiative, noted that Los Angeles World Airports and URW continue to partner to bring more small and disadvantaged operators into the airport: “We are thrilled to see Apryl open her first independently owned store here at LAX.
“This is a great example of how a minority woman who has worked her way up in the business has evolved to the next level of owning and operating her own unit. We are lowering the barriers of entry and are seeing great success with many new businesses in our programs.”