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BoutiqueNAV featured in the St. Louis Post Dispatch

Thank you to Colleen Schrappen of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch for an amazing article about BoutiqueNAV.  She and photographer, Hillary Levin, truly capture the essence of our business.

Read it here!  


It’s a fierce fashion world out there, especially when one is trying to navigate top trends for the new season.  If you are like us, and follow many of the industry leaders each season, you can get confused.  Vogue gives their top trend picks. Okay, great! Then you look at Elle, Marie Claire, Instyle, Harper’s Bazaare and they all have their own opinions from what they saw on the runway.  You can usually narrow down about five trends that they all agree on (although they call them something different).  Take for instance this year’s plaid look which you’ll see referred to as prep school, tweed, or English plaid.  You get the idea.

Additionally, some years the same trend repeats itself over and over.  Isn’t plaid on trend pretty much every fall?  Isn’t leather?  You’re not going to wear much leather in the summer, but you will wear the floral trend that comes back every Spring and Summer.  That’s a proven winner!  It seems that wheel is being reinvented with a new “spin” every year but pretty much has the same threads.

This leads us to a favorite “trend” that comes back time and again: Animal Print.  This fall, it’s kind of a big deal because all the industry leaders seem to agree that it’s a VIP (very important print)!   However, instead of a trend, we think of it as more of a staple, like the Little Black Dress.  It never goes out of style so just keep it in your closet.  It’s a proven winner season after season.

The exciting thing is that local boutiques and designers around town agree that animal prints are a VERY big deal this fall so we’ve navigated some fierce looks for you to shop this “trend” locally!

Never Enough Boutique.

You’ll wear these cute tops from Never Enough Boutique over and over and they transition through the seasons.  Pair them with jeans (any color) or nice pants.  Tons of mileage with any of these tops and they will not go out of style.

Never Enough

Cat’s Meow Personalized Gifts

We are so happy that Cats Meow Personalized Gifts added more clothing and accessories when they moved to their larger space.  Take a look at the various pieces they’ve added to spruce up your fall look.  The cardigan can be worn with so many things you already have.  The cute shoes are a fabulous addition and look incredibly comfortable and the skirt is adorable!

Cat’s Meow Personalized Gifts

Giddyup Jane

Giddyup Jane has several amazing options.  The dress is an easy throw on piece with a jean jacket, the rust color top is an amazing color for fall and the python blazer is a show stopper!!!!

Giddyup Jane

Heels Boutique

Loving each piece below from Heels.  The t-shirt is a go-to piece, the pink top is incredibly unusual (you’ll get complements) and the faded print boots are simply awesome!

Heels Boutique


These super fun looks from koho are “spot on” for the season.  The python print dress is one you can dress up or down depending on what you wear with it, the leopard print cross body bag is a must have and the perfect going out size, and that python blazer is simply wonderful dressed up or down!


TLynn’s Boutique

The v-neck leopard print top below is a wonderful staple and we love it worn with this jacket!  The black top with leopard sleeves is fun, and unique and we adore the python print booties.  You can’t go wrong adding any of these great pieces from TLynn’s Boutique to your Fall 2019 look.

TLynn’s Boutique

Rachel’s Grove

The three unique pieces below from Rachel’s Grove are each statement pieces.  The python print shirt dress is a gorgeous sapphire blue that will stand out from the rest.  The leopard top has beautiful sleeves and the zebra wrap dress is timeless.

Rachel’s Grove

Mark Jenkins and Claire Flowers

Animal print footwear is having a moment, but we hope it sticks around because it’s fabulous.  Local footwear designers Mark Jenkins and Claire Flowers both have amazing designs in their lines this season.  Pair any of these with jeans, a dress or simply amp up an all black ensemble with any one of these divas.

Mark Jenkins top left and bottom right & Claire Flowers top right and bottom left

Leopard Boutique

It’s stands to reason that the boutique with the name of this look has tons of options.  Leopard Boutique is loving Fall 2019 and you can see the results below!  There are just too many cute options to choose from!  The python bomber might have a slight edge though! AH-mazing!

Looks from Leopard Boutique

Looks from Leopard Boutique

Animal print is fun and here to stay!  Investing in a few pieces this season is sensible because you’ll get tons of mileage from them while looking ultra hip.  Some people say it’s trending, but we know better.  #classic #wardrobestaple

AM having fun and showing off more awesome tops from Leopard and a fuzzy eye mask from The Spotted Pig


Spring ’19 Looks from Leopard Boutique

Thank you, next, Mother Nature!

Seriously it’s time for her to turn on the defrost!  Although we’ll be sweating in no time, so in an effort to prepare for Lou’s bipolar temperature swing we stopped by Leopard Boutique in Webster Groves and found some fabulous warmer weather looks.  They all pair back to the most adorable (and affordable) denim for spring and summer.

Do you prefer a red or a white? We definitely love them both this season – paired with denim.


Ann-Marie can rock any red, and the cherry red top with shoulder tie from Leopard looks divine on her Italian coloring.  Finding a red top suitable for a fair skinned, redhead can be tricky however. The secret to success is finding a darker, warmer shade.  We spotted a ruffle sleeved top for GG and we think it’s a winner. (pictured below)

Not to be overshadowed are the amazing and affordable denim styles at Leopard.  We love the creative, cropped detail that you typically pay up for.

For footwear, AM paired wedges from local designer Mark Jenkins (his new styles can be found at Leopard) and GG paired her own western style booties.  A wedge or block heel elongates the legs and looks fabulous with cropped denim.


This season’s white blouse is working hard to prove that it’s anything but a boring staple piece.  It says, “Do NOT layer me!”  The stand out and stand alone tops pictured below are from Leopard and you’ll want!

Find these and other amazing Spring 2019 looks at any of Leopard Boutique’s three locations:  Webster Groves, St. Charles and Maplewood.

Follow BoutiqueNAV on Instagram and Facebook for more local to love!

Rachel Forst of Rachel’s Grove

The charm of local boutiques is that each shop tells a story and is curated in a unique way.  Meet Rachel Forst of Rachel’s Grove, hear her story, and peek into the life of this fashionably local boutique owner.


OPENED: March 7th, 2015

What made you decide to open your shop?  My sister and nieces had talked about opening a women’s clothing boutique for several years. When my oldest headed off to college, the time seemed right. It was a boutique or law school. We picked a boutique!

Have you always loved fashion?  I’ve always been interested in what my friends and family were wearing, but with a twist. For example, one of my sorority formal dresses in college was an off-the-shoulder dress like everyone else was wearing, but mine was in a gorgeous royal blue and white print with the off-shoulder ruffle done in the contrasting white and royal blue print. I did not look like everyone else!

What was your favorite piece of clothing when you were growing up?  A tee shirt that said, “Here comes trouble!”

What is the oldest item of clothing that you own?   I still own the dress that I wore to our wedding rehearsal dinner. We got married in Orlando, where I am from. My husband’s parents hosted a luau at my mother’s home. The dress is a deep kelly green with fuchsia and gold crabs on it. It was fun and casual, very Florida, and set the right tone for our event. It doesn’t fit me anymore, but I can’t bear to throw it out!

Favorite item of clothing your currently own:  Any of my Jude Connally dresses. They are colorful and easy to wear. They don’t wrinkle and are machine washable.

What is your favorite item in the store right now?  My favorite item in the shop right now is the Southcott Indian Summer tee in coral. It’s made from the softest bamboo, is long-sleeved, has front seem detailing, and is a high-low top. It looks great with white jeans or navy pants.

What is the best part of your job?  I love watching customers come out of the dressing room when they’ve found something they love. Their entire faces light up because they feel so good. That’s the first thing I look at when a customer asks my opinion, her face. What she’s wearing is secondary.

What is your favorite boutique when you travel?  I don’t have a favorite boutique. I love them all!

Favorite destination city to shop? Charleston, South Carolina

Advice you would give someone wanting to open a boutique.  Location, location, location!

Kristin Mayer of The Spotted Pig

The charm of local boutiques is that each shop tells a story and is curated in a unique way.  Meet Kristin Mayer of The Spotted Pig, hear her story, and peek into the life of this fashionably local boutique owner.


OPENED: November 3, 2016

What made you decide to open your shop?  I opened my shop because I really wanted to bring to St.Louis an eclectic mix of my different acquired styles.  I wanted to share my passion of finding unique one of kind gifts that come from all over.  It has always been a dream of mine to put all the mix of styles I have into one place.  For the St. Louis customer to be able to learn to decorate their lives and home exactly how they want, free!

What is the biggest thing you’ve learned since opening The Spotted Pig?  I think the biggest task I have learned since opening my shop is that you cannot stress about having things perfect.  You do the best you can, and you follow your brand.  You stick to what makes your heart sing and you be you and stay true to you!
What words do you live by?  Dr. Suess, “ There is no one alive who is you-er than you” Be you, and love that person, for it is the only person you have to face every day.
What inspires you?  Meeting new people every day inspires me.  Constantly staying vulnerable to life to learn new things from any person or situation that comes my way.  My inspirations in the decorating world are ethnic varieties, different styles of different cultures…..and color, simply put color inspires me!
What is your favorite item in the shop?  The Consuela bags! These are just awesome for everyday, the pool, the beach, the gym, everywhere because you just can’t ruin them!!! I need this in my life!

One thing in your shop that everyone should have in their home:  Some sort of a pig! Whatever it is, from a picture to a statue to a trinket tray, I promise, it will make you smile!

What is your favorite thing about your job?  That is easy! I enjoy seeing customers love the items that I’ve found for them.  Seeing them get as excited as I do when they spot that perfect household decor or that cool gift for someone they love!! My customers are what make every day of hard work pay off!
Advice you would give someone wanting to open a boutique:  Don’t ever think you will know all the in’s and out’s.  LOL …..there is no rhyme or reason in retail….it’s hard work but making sure you remind yourself everyday why you opened keeps you in the moment. Always listen to your customers, and stay true to yourself!

Laura Ritchie of TLynn’s Boutique

The charm of local boutiques is that each shop tells a story and is curated in a unique way.  Meet Laura Ritchie of TLynn’s Boutique, hear her story, and peek into the life of this fashionably local boutique owner.


OWNER SINCE: December 2017

What made you decide to open your shop?  It goes back to when the store (TLynn’s) was Meka. My daughter and I loved having a girls’ day out, complete with nails, shopping and lunch. When we visited the shop together we could always find styles that worked for both of us. We continued shopping there when Terri Lynn bought it and changed the name.  I have always wanted to own a boutique. Several years ago there was a boutique for sale in Ladue, MO. My husband and I really considered it, but the children were small and the timing wasn’t right. In August of 2017, I meet Terri Lynn when we just happened to be at the same restaurant.  We started talking and she was looking for a partner. I seized the opportunity and became her partner in September 2017. In December 2017 she decided to retire and I became TLynn’s sole owner. My theme for TLynn’s is a “Mother/Daughter Boutique” where mothers and daughters can enjoy a day out together and shop at a boutique where both can find fashionable clothes.

Have you always loved fashion? I have always loved fashion especially shoes and accessories.

What was your favorite piece of clothing when you were growing up?  My favorite was probably my bell bottom jeans.

What is the oldest item of clothing that you own?  A black dress that I bought after I had my daughter.

What is your favorite item in the store right now?  A pair of merlot velvet sneakers with merlot satin laces.

What is the best part of your job?  I’ve always enjoyed working with people, which is why I went into nursing initially. I love working one on one with a customer, helping them pick out the right clothes and accessories for their style. I also really enjoy going to market to shop for the the new and upcoming styles.

What is your favorite boutique when you travel?   B. Williams is a boutique down the street from my daughter in Brentwood, California. I love shopping there because I get to spend time with my daughter and do our two favorite things which are shopping and lunch!

Advice you would give someone wanting to open a boutique.  There will be good days and bad days, good seasons and slow ones. It’s important to be patient and try anything. Just because it doesn’t work for one person doesn’t mean it won’t work for you. Don’t buy clothes just because you like them, and remember to keep in mind that there are more sizes than extra small. Owners should always be present at the store because customers really want to see and interact with them.  Support other boutiques and, lastly, the customer is always right.

Rosemary Barry of Heels Boutique

The charm of local boutiques is that each shop tells a story and is curated in a unique way.  Meet Rosemary Barry of Heels Boutique, hear her story, and peek into the life of this fashionably local boutique owner.


OPENED: April 2008

What made you decide to open your shop?  I had my “A-hah” moment when I walked through the door of the first Heels Boutique in Chicago owned by my sister-in-law and four of her friends.  I said, “This is what I want to do!”  We looked for a year and a half for a good location and settled on Wildwood, MO.  Originally the shop just carried shoes, handbags and jewelry but we kept adding more and more clothing as time went on.  We celebrated ten years this April!

Have you always loved fashion?  I’ve always loved fashion and was voted “best dressed” at school.  I especially love shoes because when clothes don’t fit you can always get a new pair of shoes!

What is the oldest item of clothing that you own?  I’ve had a pair of black, classic pumps for about 20 years.

Favorite thing in the shop?  Our Mark Jenkins line of shoes!  We could really just be a Mark Jenkins concept store because we sell so many pairs of his shoes!

Favorite part of your job?  My customers.  I just love all the people we’ve met that come shop with us.  I really consider them friends.

Favorite destination to shop?  When I’m on vacation, I really don’t shop, I relax.

The best advice you would give to someone wanting to open a boutique?  Do your homework, assess the risks, but if you really want to do it – go for it!  The most important thing is that you have to be present every day and in touch with your customers.  If you decide to go for it you have to be all in!

Jane Epstein Lavey of Giddyup Jane

The charm of local boutiques is that each shop tells a story and is curated in a unique way.  Meet Jane Epstein Lavey of Giddyup Jane, hear her story, and peek into the life of this fashionably local boutique owner.


OWNER SINCE: April 2009

What made you decide to open your shop? 

After earning my law degree I worked for my family’s business. During that time, I began creating custom, western, belt buckles.  I established quite a customer base that included many celebrity musicians.  Eventually, people began asking if I had other chic, western items to pair with the buckles.  I realized that there was a need, and I had always wanted to open a store with a western theme.  I started small by renting a corner space in my friend, Margaret Spooner’s, shop in Ladue called MACS Designs.  Eventually, the space next door became available so I bought it and opened up Giddyup Jane.  After about two years MACS Designs moved down the street so I took over both spaces and we are still here at that same location.

Jane’s Go-To style:

I typically have on a fabulous pair of cowboy boots (I love Old Gringo) and a Johnny Was shirt with a pair of jeans.  The cool mix of western and boho is classic and never goes out of style.  It works anywhere and any time.

Favorite thing in the store:

The Johnny Was brand is a staple here and our new, superstar label is Xirena.  (See both brands pictured below.) Xirena has the world’s best button down classic cotton, poplin shirts!  We carry several colors which always sell out. They are soft, wash well and have a fabulous fit.

What’s the favorite part of your job:

I love to buy!  When I go to market, I think of my customers and what they would like, not just what I want.  But above all else, everything has to look cute with cowboy boots!  I always keep this in mind, with just a few exceptions.  This helps keep the Giddyup Jane brand consistent.


Giddyup Jane has styles that appeal to all ages, but we don’t necessarily target teens.  We do have some trendy pieces but we carry mostly classic styles for women.  We have amazing jewelry, like the Tat2 line, great handbags in vegan and leather, and wonderful accessories.  Although our vibe is chic western, we carry many great brands that aren’t necessarily western inspired.  We carry staples that are always on “the top items that you should own” list such as, a denim jacket, a white button down blouse, cowboy boots and a great pair of jeans.  You are never too old or too young to have these.

Favorite destination to shop:

When I travel I search out the local western inspired stores like mine. I also love shopping in Soho and the West Village in NYC.  My inspiration for Giddyup Jane is a shop in Durango, Colorado called Eureka’s.  I still visit when I travel there because I know the owner.

Advice you would give a person wanting to open a boutique:

You have to like people. If you don’t want to greet customers with a smile, talk to them, find out a little bit about them, and help them with the clothes, then this isn’t for you.

Alyson Garland of DotDotDash Boutique

The charm of local boutiques is that each shop tells a story and is curated in a unique way.  Meet Alyson Garland of DotDotDash Boutique, hear her story, and peek into the life of this fashionably local boutique owner.



What made you decide to open your shop? 

I’ve always loved and understood the retail business and was a merchandiser for a family shoe company. Prior to opening my shop, I started designing soft, comfortable, children’s wear that had French and Spanish phrases on them with corresponding pictures so children could learn phrases in those languages.  I started selling them through trunk shows to test market the idea.

I have three boys, currently ages nine to nineteen.  When my youngest entered Kindergarten, I rented a tiny space near my neighborhood in De Mun and filled it with soft, comfortable, casual pieces that I found at market in New York. We carried about five simple styles of sweatpants, comfortable T-shirts and wraps for women in several colors along with my line for kids.  The name DotDotDash came about as a collaboration with a graphic designer that I was working with.  We threw some names around and that one stuck. It turned out to be serendipitous because I later found out that it spells the letter “U” in Morse code.  When you walk into my shop, I want it to be all about YOU.  Over the years it’s evolved into more of a women’s clothing store.  Two years ago we moved just around the corner from our original store into our larger space right off of De Mun Avenue.

Oldest pieces of clothing that you still own:

I still have a few wraps and sweatpants from lines that I carried at the original store. People always ask me to start carrying them again because they were such great sellers.

Favorite items in the store:

The Roberta Roller Rabbit line is perfect for summer (as seen on Ann-Marie and Alyson below).  The line washes great and always looks amazing.

I also love the Rosemunde line from Denmark and the Lola and Sophie shirts.

Best Part of being a store owner:

The community of people that have become my customers are like family to me.   We love our customers and the neighborhood feeling here in the De Mun area.

Favorite destination to shop:

I love Intermix for their variety and I adore Barney’s New York for their inspiration and real street style.  They also have a great eye for emerging designers.

Advice for any future shop owner:

Start small and sample your product before you open a store.  It’s best to have an established  customer base and grow from there.

Rachel Sauter of Leopard

The charm of local boutiques is that each shop tells a story and is curated in a unique way.  Meet Rachel Sauter of Leopard Boutique, hear her story, and peek into the life of this fashionably local boutique owner.


OWNER SINCE: October, 2012

What made you decide to open your own shop?

I’ve worked in retail from the time I turned sixteen but I guess it all started when I was growing up.  My favorite thing was playing “store” in my mom’s closet. My first job in retail during high school was at Plato’s Closet where I became familiar with clothing brands.  I knew I wanted to stay in fashion so I studied fashion merchandising in Los Angeles and Chicago and later managed a store in Columbia, Missouri called Britches while my husband was in Law School.  The store owner taught me so much about owning a boutique.

I had several goals in mind when I decided to open up my own shop.  I wanted it to be for women of all ages and walks of life, to have excellent customer service, and prices that wouldn’t break the bank.  From there, Leopard was born.

Shortly after, when I had my first child, I discovered that finding a work, life balance was difficult and something I had to learn.  Then in May 2015, when I was expecting my second daughter, we opened our second store in St. Charles. The location was perfect and we had staff who wanted to work more hours than we could offer at the one shop, so it was a natural step for us.  For a small business owner, this is a rare thing! I am so grateful for the wonderful, dedicated people who work at Leopard.

What is your favorite thing about owning a boutique?

I love the relationships that I’ve built.  I’ve met so many inspiring, amazing people that walk through my door. My customers have a million other places where they could shop so I’m incredibly grateful that they choose to support Leopard.  I’ll never take this for granted!

What is next for Leopard?

We are excited because our Webster Groves store is about to get remodeled!  We also just started a Leopard blog that has gotten great feedback from our customers and we recently launched our “modeling moms” social media program.  We wanted Leopard’s social media to better reflect our customer base so we decided what better way than to highlight them as models.  We style customers who want to participate, photograph them and put them in our Instagram and Facebook posts.  It’s really been amazing!  We love showing how fabulous our customers look in the clothes.

What is your favorite thing in the store?

I think our Level 99 jeans are my favorite thing.  They fit amazing and we carry so many styles and washes.  (See below).

What advice would you give someone wanting to open a boutique?

I think a person should work in retail before opening their own boutique. It’s important to have an understanding of the hours and the customer service.  As a boutique owner you’ll have to be there working in the shop and getting to know your customers to be successful.

What would you be doing if you didn’t own a shop?

I’d be a personal grocery shopper.  I love grocery stores!   I look at grocery shopping much like regular shopping.  I like to mix it up.  If I’m not at home or at Leopard you can probably find me at the grocery store.  I shop Lucky’s, Aldi’s, Dierbergs, Schnucks, Whole Foods, Straubs, you name it, I’m there!

Sue McCarthy, Diana Ford & Laura Maurice of The Vault

The charm of local boutiques is that each shop tells a story and is curated in a unique way.  Meet the owners of the Vault Luxury Resale, hear their stories, and peek into the lives of these fashionably local boutique owners.

Sue McCarthy, Diana Ford & Laura Maurice:


The Vault ownership is comprised of Sue McCarthy and her two daughters, Diana Ford and Laura Maurice.  We sat down with Diana to find out a little more about this fashionably local team.

How is the family dynamic with you three working together?

We have fun working together, but when we are at the shop, we are so busy that we don’t often have a lot of time to interact.  People are surprised to find out that we socialize outside of work all the time.  Our families take vacations together and we often have dinner together.

The three of us have very different styles, which is a good thing.  We are surrounded by fabulous things every day and we never argue or compete for them.  Laura recently called me from a closet buyout and said, “There is the most amazing bag here, but, damn it, it’s more your style!”

Do you each have a different role within the business?

My sister, Laura, is our chief curator and also heads up our social media.  She works with our out of town customers and celebrities who have things to sell.  She researches what they have and if it’s worth the trip to secure it.  She is the brand expert and knows the latest and greatest that the top brands have to offer.

I (Diana) am in charge of marketing and events.  When we opened this new store, one of our goals was to have an event space to host events and give back to the community.  The upper level transforms into a fabulous space for things like fashion shows and parties.  Ninety per- cent of what I do is plan our events.  I also organize shopping trips a couple of times a year.

Sue is the boss lady.  She takes care of finances and the big picture.  Whatever direction she wants the business to go is always the right one.

What is the oldest piece of clothing that you own? 

I call it the “rib breaker.”  It’s a velvet Yves Saint Laurent top that I bought in Paris a long time ago.  It’s called a rib breaker because I’d have to break a few ribs to wear it again.  It’s just so pretty that I’ll never get rid of it.

All three of us are purgers by nature so we never hold on to our things.  We know there is something better just around the corner.

How often do you change handbags?

Maybe once every six months.  Seriously, I just don’t have time to think about it!  (Yes, reader, you ARE thinking what we’re thinking. OMG!)

Favorite designer currently? 

It used to be Chanel but now it’s Gucci.  Gucci is just so edgy, hot and retro.  I also love the Nancy Gonzalez crocodile bags which are understated and gorgeous.  Laura has always been a big fan of Gucci.  My mom loves Chanel but carries a Tumi bag every day.  She wants her hands free and prioritizes comfort because she travels so much.

What is the favorite part of your job?

It’s like Christmas every day!  We never know what’s going to walk through that door.  It could be an “it” handbag that is on a huge wait list, or the hottest vintage Gucci tote. It’s something cool every day!  That never gets old!

What advice would you give someone wanting to open a boutique?

You have to have a passion for it.  You have to be ready to work really hard.

If you weren’t doing this what would you be doing? 

Traveling.  I will work for travel.  I used to work for Maritz Corporation so traveling is in my blood.

Laura would be a fantastic food critic if she wasn’t doing this.  Her Instagram feed is filled with her amazing food experiences.

Sue will always be an entrepreneur.  She’s the Dali Lama of business ideas.

How do people find The Vault Luxury Resale?

Word of Mouth.  That’s how we’ve acquired most of our business, particularly in New York, because our existing customers refer us to their friends.  It’s all about trust.  We are trying to get that same momentum in Nashville.  There are so many great closets in Nashville!

We also started Facebook Live about a year ago on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 2 pm central and the exposure has been amazing.  Gucci is following us along with stylists from LA!  These bi-weekly live posts have majorly increased our sales and acquisitions.

Tell us about the Chalkboard of Local Charities on the wall:

We host several events for charitable organizations at The Vault Luxury Resale. We underwrite the costs of food, drink, valet parking and also donate 10% of sales back to them for the evening.  Last season we did nineteen private events and we already have sixteen upcoming events on the calendar.  In just four years we’ve given over $100,000 back to the community.

Recently, Sue and I visited Operation Food Search. They are in dire need of funds during summer break because they are feeding kids that aren’t getting meals at school.  We wanted to help out so we’ve been donating the proceeds from the sale of every 5th or 6th bag to the organization.

On July 19th we announced on Facebook Live that we’ll be raffling off a 2015, classic, Chanel handbag to a lucky winner who buys a Golden Ticket from us.  Tickets are $100 each and ticket sales will be limited.  Our goal is to raise $100,000 for Operation Food Search. The winner will be announced on October 20th!

Good, Better Best and beyond!  

The book, Good Better Best, just released this past spring is about owner Sue McCarthy’s life.  It is a fascinating read and will be officially launched at the shop in early August. The Vault Luxury Resale hosts about two to three public events each season.  Look for one this fall with the perfect combination of fashion and food trucks. To find out more, follow The Vault Luxury Resale on Facebook and Instagram. 

Tamara Netsch of Shine Boutique

The charm of local boutiques is that each shop tells a story and is curated in a unique way.  Meet Tamara Netsch of Shine Boutique, hear her story, and peek into the life of this fashionably local boutique owner.


OWNER SINCE: May 31st, 2016

Have you always loved fashion?

My mom and dad both love fashion and each has inspired me in different ways.  My mom really loves jewelry which is why I gravitate to jewelry and accessories first.  I’d go through her jewelry boxes when I was little.  She had a non-traditional style that I consider very gypsy-bohemian.  She was very much her own person which I appreciate more today than back then.  She’d discover these obscure pop-up places and flea markets and we’d dig through and find amazing things.

My dad was a shopper and very into fashion.  I remember him telling me that someday I’d become a buyer.  At the time, I didn’t know what that meant, so when he explained it to me I thought, yes I’d like to do that!

How did you get started in the business?

When I was fifteen Melanie Bascom (owner of the former Melanie’s Boutique) hired me to work in her Columbia, Missouri shop. I grew up in Columbia and she had a boutique there in addition to the one in Frontenac.  I eventually moved to St. Louis and worked in her store here. When I moved to Minnesota with my husband, Melanie referred me to the owner of a local shop that had four locations and had been in business for over sixty years.  I worked at that shop for fourteen years as the apparel and accessories buyer and learned a lot about the business during that time.

When Melanie decided to retire she contacted me and asked if I’d take over her shop.  Being a shop owner was my dream, so my husband and I decided to move along with our daughter back to St. Louis and work for her during the transition.  I didn’t end up buying Melanie’s and I had to quickly switch gears and come up with a plan B.  I’d been looking at the space where my shop is currently to move Melanie’s so this is how Shine came about.

The customers of Melanie’s knew me as the person who was taking over the shop, so when it closed and I opened, there was some confusion. I’ve had to work really hard to be true to Shine but not disappoint the customers that we’ve gained from Melanie’s.

I’m incredibly grateful that the wonderful women who worked at Melanie’s are now working at Shine with me.  I’ve known these ladies for most of my life, so I really trust them. The were invaluable during the transition.

What is the idea behind the name Shine?

Because of the change in situation, I had to act fast.  Coming up with a name is like getting a tattoo.  You really want to think it through before you do it.  Unfortunately I didn’t have the luxury of time, but the name Shine kept coming back to me in my head.  It was important that the name had a positive vibe and it worked because when you feel good, you shine!

What is the favorite part of your job?

When we first moved here my preteen daughter said, “Mom, you are doing your dream job!”  but I don’t think I would have opened my own shop had I not been pushed by the turn of events with Melanie’s.  My favorite part is definitely working with customers.  You really get to know people when they shop with you and I’m definitely a people person.

What are you most excited about with Shine?

The store has been evolving since we opened.  I like to think that we have something for everyone with a mix of price points and styles.  Right now I’m most excited about the pop-ups that we’ve had to showcase local designers.  It’s a win-win because we are supporting each other.  The trunk shows keep things new and fresh in the store.  They give me a great read on what people like and what will sell.  We’ve gotten to test market several of our new lines this way.  Our trunk show with Mark Jenkins Footwear was so successful that we now carry this local brand in the store!

What is your style?

A little bohemian and little gypsy.

What would you be doing if you didn’t own the shop?

I’d still be in retail because I love it and I love working with people. Maybe I’d stand outside dressing rooms and hold people’s babies while they try on clothes and give them style advice.  I guess my title would be “babysitter stylist”.

What is your advice for anyone wanting to open up a boutique?

Even though I’ve worked in retail for most of my life, it’s such a different animal when it’s your own.  I think it’s important to get to know your customers in order to understand what they want.  Keep your head up, because there will be bad days.  Be open to change and be prepared to evolve and grow, all while staying true to who you are as a store.

Catherine Bennett of Cat’s Meow

The charm of local boutiques is that each shop tells a story and is curated in a unique way.  Meet Catherine Bennett of Cat’s Meow, hear her story, and peek into the life of this fashionably local boutique owner.



How did you get started in the business?

I’m from Kirkwood, Missouri and for 10 years prior to opening Cat’s Meow I had a home embroidery business.  By the time I opened the shop, I had a good clientele base but I had no idea that the business would take off like it did.  When we first opened we had only half of the space.  When the other half became available within a year we purchased that in 2008.

As the business grew I just trusted my gut. I could only handle so many custom orders at once, and many customers wanted gifts that they could walk out the door with, so we started bringing in candles and jewelry that I found at market.   The shop has evolved from there, and as I look back, it’s amazing how much we underestimated how well the store would do.

How did you come up with the name?

When I was growing up everyone called me Cat, so the shop’s name is derived from that.  I named the store Cat’s Meow because the term means “the best,” even though people often think it’s a cat themed store.

What is the favorite part of your job?

I love sourcing new and innovative things for the shop and then seeing them sell.  I also feel incredibly lucky to be working with the best people. I think one of my greatest assets is my amazing staff, three of whom have been with me since the beginning.

Did you have doubts about moving to a new location?

I went back and forth, but in the end, it was a leap of faith.  We wanted to grow and add new items but we couldn’t do it in the other location.  There just wasn’t room.  The move has been a great decision because we’ve been rockin’ it since day one.  I think people feel more comfortable to spread out and shop.  The expanded space has given us the chance to add more clothing, handbags and new items such as the custom laser engraved merchandise.

Tell us about your collaboration with catstudio for their St. Louis design.

We started carrying catstudio merchandise a couple of years ago and asked them to do a Saint Louis pillow.  They said they had a preliminary sketch but hadn’t finalized everything.  They sent me their preliminary design and I realized that they didn’t highlight the things that Saint Louis locals know and love.  Anyone can go online and research a city but unless they talk to a local, they won’t get the full picture.  Their design didn’t feature The Hill, Ted Drewes, The City Museum or the image of a fleur de lis.  They also didn’t have a recognizable icon for the zoo or any representation of the St. Louis Cardinals.  Their design focused more on riverboats and the blues and they still had the old football stadium on there.  I offered to help them with the design so we went back and forth and finally came up with the finalized product.  (see below)

What would you do if you didn’t have a shop:

I’d be doing sales.  That’s where my comfort zone is, but really, this is my dream come true.   If 20 years ago someone had told me that I was going to have a big shop and sell clothing, I’m not sure I’d have believed it.

What are you most excited about in the shop?

It’s hard for me to say because we have added so many amazing things with our bigger location.  But if it came down to one thing, I guess I’m most excited about our new laser engraved products. I did a lot of research on this process and realized that we could do so many customized things with it.  We laser engrave picture frames, drink tumblers, decorative serving trays and we cut lights featuring all the Sororities for back to school.  The process works on all kinds of surfaces such as wood, plastic, glass and metal and the finished product is amazing.

What is your demographic?

We have everything from the monogrammed, preppy look to the camo, trendy look.  Originally, I thought we had to have a defined style in the shop, but then I realized that some days I want to wear the pink, preppy look and other days I want to wear the hip, trendy look.  I think many of our customers are the same.  Our demographic is for all walks of life.  We have gifts for every age and special occasion.

How do you combat online shopping?

We do ship items, and we’d like to do more online with our site, but we hope that people realize the positive impact a small business has on it’s community.  From hiring local people to donating to local causes, small businesses give back.  I don’t think a whole lot of those online places are donating to our local charities.  Additionally, when you order a personalized item online, you never know what you are going to get.  I’ve had so many people come in disappointed with the quality of the items they’ve received online.  A lot of people think that monogramming is a simple machine where you just push a button.  There are so many variations that come in to play with fabric, color and fonts that may not work well for what someone wants.  We take the time to guide our customers through the design process because we want our customers to be happy with our finished product.

What advice would you give anyone wanting to own a boutique?

I think you have to trust your gut.  When you start second guessing yourself you’ll start making more mistakes.

Jennifer & Lois Geschke of J.A. Whitney

The charm of local boutiques is that each shop tells a story and is curated in a unique way.  Meet Jennifer and Lois Geschke of J.A. Whitney, hear their stories, and peek into the lives of these fashionably local boutique owners.

Jennifer & Lois Geschke: J.A. WHITNEY

OWNERS SINCE: June, 2011 (originally opened in 1994)

What inspired you to buy J.A. Whitney?

Jennifer:  I was inspired to do it because I love shopping, especially buying gifts for others. I’ve always wanted to own a gift boutique.  I’d been working as an attorney in commercial litigation and was ready to make a change. In January of 2011, I visited the store with a friend and told her that I wished I could own a store like J.A. Whitney.  Both my mom and I had always been loyal customers of the shop.  Less than a month later the owners sent an email to all of their customers saying that the store was for sale. I immediately called my mom to see if I could drag her out of retirement and then proceeded to set up a meeting with the store owners.

Lois:  Jennifer called me within 30 seconds after receiving that email!  We talked about it and I thought, we just may be able to swing this!  The timing was perfect because I’d just retired after twenty four years of working in an administrative position in the Clayton school district.

How has J.A. Whitney changed under your ownership?

Jennifer: My mom and I are the third owners of J.A. Whitney, which celebrates twenty-five years in April of 2019. The store has evolved over time and with new owners but we’ve made it our own since taking it over.  We had a vision, and the store really needed a face lift, so we closed the shop in August and September of 2017 and completely renovated it. It’s more functional and spacious. Our biggest complement is when a customer comes in and says the store makes them happy.  We love hearing that!

What specific roles do each of you have for the shop?

Lois:  I handle most of the back office things such as H.R., payroll and special orders.

Jennifer:  I run the day to day within the store but both of us go on the buying trips because it helps to have two people with two different viewpoints buying for the store.  There are times when I say no way to something and she pushes for it.  It may take a little while but it usually sells like gangbusters.  That’s when my mom says her favorite phrase, “You’re welcome.” 

What is your favorite thing about owning a store?

Jennifer: We’ve always been close so we love that we get to work with each other but we also get to work with an amazing group of women on our staff.  Most them have been here since the beginning, and a couple of the women have been here since the original owner.  We don’t have a big turnover so it’s a pretty tight knit group that we have.  There is so much creativity and our staff has such a great rapport with our customers, many of whom have been coming since 1994!

What is your favorite item in the store?

The piggy bank has been the top item since we opened and we still have the traditional best selling items but we’ve mixed in new and exciting gift items.  The big thing now is the clear bags with the vinyl monograms.  Many stadiums and concert venues are requiring them so they’ll be a staple for most people.

I also really love our wraps and lightweight bamboo ponchos that can be personalized.  They come in many colors and pair with anything. They’re always a best seller and make a great gift.

Lois:  I love the Mariposa line which is made from recycled aluminum.  It looks elegant but you don’t have to polish it like silver.  It’s my go to gift when I’m invited to a shower or wedding.

What would you be doing if you weren’t a shop owner?

Jennifer:  Something travel related.  I love to travel and explore.

Lois:  I love to travel too but I get to do more than Jennifer because she runs the store day to day.

What’s your favorite place to shop outside of St. Louis?

Jennifer: We both love Franklin, Tennessee just outside of Nashville.  It has the coolest little downtown area with one little strip that has all the cutest local places that we visit every time we go.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to open a boutique?

Jennifer: It will always be a work in progress.  We discover new ways of doing things all of the time and we are always trying to improve.  That never stops.  I don’t think any new shop owner knows going into it just how much time it will take.  It’s 24 / 7 which I love, but I’m always thinking of the store, and we work all the holidays.  Christmas Eve is no longer a relaxing day at home.   It’s fun, but you are working a lot of hours.  Going to market is also hard work because there is a lot of ground you have to cover in a small amount of time, and so many decisions you have to make on the spot.  I work harder and more hours than I ever did as an attorney but I love it and I wouldn’t go back.

Lois:  You have to always look for new things.  Our core group of customers want to see new things every time they come in.