This week, one of Brookline’s chicest boutiques, The Studio, celebrates its fortieth year in business. Co-owners Sandy Gradman, Marcie Brawer and Ilene Epstein have overcome staggering odds and warmed many hearts with their unique customer service, community philanthropy and, of course, impeccable clothing.

Gradman met Brawer while they were both working at an upscale clothing store in Faneuil Hall. When that business wound down, the two retail veterans decided to open their own shop. The first iteration of The Studio was run out of Brawer’s in-home art studio, hence the name. Sandy Gradman’s twin sister, Ilene Epstein, joined them when she fortuitously moved to Boston around the same time.

Within nine months, business was good enough for them to move into the space at 233 Harvard Street in Coolidge Corner, where they’ve resided ever since. “We rented 225 square feet,” says Brawer. “The store is now 3700 square feet.” Each year as the business expanded, so did their footprint, a testament to how well they’ve honed their retail skills.

The first few years were truly a grassroots effort. To get business, the entrepreneurs mailed out hundreds of envelopes and made hundreds of telephone calls, literally spreading the news of their opening by word of mouth. It worked. Many of the customers from those early days in Brawer’s art studio still shop at The Studio, and they bring their children and grandchildren with them.

The multigenerational aesthetic of the store is one of its many charms. Brawer says she often sees three generations of women come in to shop together, and there’s something for each of them. Good taste truly has no age limit.

In the ever-changing retail landscape, which is continuously going online, The Studio crew emphasizes customer service and the gal-pal experience of in-person shopping. “We’re really committed to the concept of specialty stores that do this kind of thing,” says Gradman. “Our society now is so impersonal. You’re sitting in your nightgown at 11 o’clock at night ordering your wardrobe online. And that’s very different than walking into a store and trying it on.”

The Studio is always alive with action. Customers try on outfits styled by Brawer, Gradman, and Epstein. Shoppers ask for advice on what to buy a friend for her birthday, and women browse the racks chatting about local news. But it’s not only shopping related antics that happen on site. Brawer recalls a time a vendor from Australia brought a baby kangaroo with him on a sales call. Another time a Gaelic singer gave a private, impromptu concert in the store. One thing’s for sure: it’s never dull at The Studio.

For Epstein, Brawer, and Gradman, giving back to the Brookline community has always been essential to their practice. They’ve raised money for Dana Farber, the Coolidge Corner Theater and the Brookline Teen Center and are frequently out in the community supporting local business and artists. Shoppers can even find the community on The Studio’s racks; they sell hand-painted silk scarves by a Boston area artist.   

On Wednesday the powerhouse trio will be hosting a fortieth anniversary bash at the Coolidge Corner Theater. Tickets to the extravaganza are $40, and all the proceeds benefit the Coolidge Corner Theatre Foundation. Guests will be regaled with excerpts from fashion-related plays performed by the Boston Playwrights Theatre, clips of women’s fashion in film and with the true story of The Studio as written by the founders themselves. Add a little popcorn and some prosecco, and it’s bound to be an eventful evening.

Tickets can be purchased online or at the Coolidge box office.

Brawer, Gradman and Epstein are proud of their 40-year tenure in Brookline and say they’re looking forward to many more years of fashion and fun. “For all intents and purposes, it is a family business,” says Brawer, who has become an honorary third sister over the decades. “It’s been a glorious ride.”

By Celina Colby