Karmen Berentsen was 26 years old when she learned first-hand the power of a great outfit. After striking out on her own with a training solutions company, the young entrepreneur was faced with the prospect of presenting her products and vision to executives at Fortune 500 companies. “I needed some confidence,” she says. “And so I went to Neiman Marcus and bought an Armani suit. I spent more than I could afford on it but it fit me and I felt confident, powerful and sophisticated.” That day, Berentsen won the job.
Today, as the owner of Denver’s A Line Boutique, Berentsen is delivering that same sense of poise and fearlessness to her clients, who turn to the boutique not only for its thoughtful selection but also for its in-house team of professional stylists, versed in everything from curating single looks to travel packing and closet edits. It’s a business model that was inspired by European hospitality. “You’re met by someone who knows the collection and who can take one look at you and start pulling. They know how to style you. You’re in and you’re out.”
For Berentsen, the worlds of tech and fashion are more parallel than one might think. “I moved from literally creating self-sufficient, confident users through the right documentation and training methods to being part of helping women feel confident and self-sufficient, to feel the way I did. I think it’s so important and most often overlooked,” says Berentsen.
What’s different, however, is Berentsen’s mindset while building her companies—a change that happened after she sold her business, when she took time to press pause on things. Born in Minnesota and raised in Arizona and California, Berentsen and her sister were brought up by their single mother, who passed away while she was in high school.
After graduating from university, Berentsen threw herself into the workforce, eventually striking out on her own in the tech world. But it was the time in between that she began to experience a shift in her outlook on all aspects of life, work included. “I realized I wanted to work in an environment and industry I loved and in one where I could be a part of helping people feel like I did, to be a difference and be closer to home.”
Berentsen, now a mother of a young daughter, has abided by that philosophy. “With my first company, I mustered, I struggled, it was intense—I wasn’t who I wanted to be.” And what about now? “The effort is more in being intentional and kind and soulful and centered,” she says. “It’s letting that magic of the universe come in and be that rush, that energy, that ride and always seeing it through.”