Meegan Hofmeister: Co-owner of the “the boutique” in NewBo
Tell us the story behind opening “the boutique”
M: I originally wrote the business plan for “the boutique” years ago, as I was finishing my Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. It was a final project that turned out to be really fun, as it allowed me to dream big and learn a lot about something that interested me. As I graduated from college, that business plan was tossed into a desk drawer to be forgotten about and I proceeded to attempt to find a career that I fell in love with. While struggling to find that career, Sarah and I sat down over brunch one Sunday and started daydreaming about what we would do if we weren’t doing what we were currently doing, and “the boutique” was brought up. Sarah and I had both been working retail for years; I was in management and sales for both big box chains and small retail businesses, while Sarah had been heading up marketing, advertising, and event planning for a local retailer. Between the two of us, we had gained a lot of experience and felt like “the boutique” was a dream that, with a little push and encouragement from a close mentor, we could successfully bring to life.
How did you get started in the fashion field?
M: I grew up playing dress-up in my grandmother’s closet with her vintage dresses; shopping trips with Mom were always something I looked forward to; and as I grew up, any girl’s trips always centered around Michigan Avenue… so I think I’ve always had a passion for fashion and an addiction to retail!
What are your favorite fall/winter 15/16′ trends?
M: Again, I have a serious crush on leather this year! Leather pants, leather skirts, leather jackets… anything leather! Another fall trend that has me excited is the flare… high-waisted, flare leg denim paired with blouses or chunky knit sweaters is a really hot trend. And I’m enjoying the colors we’re seeing this year: navy, marsala, caramels… it’s a softer color palette in contrast to the stark black/white/grey collections we’ve seen the last few years, and I think it’s a nice change that is flattering on everyone.
How would you convince someone to break out of his or her shell and dress more fashionable?
M: Style is a way to express yourself without having to speak… it should be a true reflection of your inner muse! Take chances and wear what makes you feel like the best version of yourself!
What are your three favorite pieces your carry?
M: The Fall season’s deliveries are always my favorite… deeper darker colors, more textures, and great pieces for layering. Currently I am obsessing over anything leather! Three of my “must-haves” from the floor right now are: Bailey44’s Raoul’s Skirt in Merlot, which is a vegan leather midi-length pencil skirt, Citizens of Humanity Fleetwood Flare jeans, and Equipment’s Signature Silk blouse in leopard print. I always love a blouse, and leopard is a neutral!
What is the best part of your job?
I automatically want to say the New York City buying trips! I mean, it’s walk-in closet after walk-in closet of the hottest designers in the industry, in one of the most amazing cities on the planet… so for someone who loves fashion, it’s like a fantasy come to life! However, I also really love the relationships I build with our customers. I enjoy getting to know people on a personal level and getting to hear their stories, while making them feel great about themselves by dressing them in a look they never would have believed they could pull off. Helping women create a personal style and seeing a boost in their self-confidence when they love how they look is why I do what I do.
What and who influences you when buying for “the boutique”?
M: That’s an ever-evolving answer! On our first buying trip we hadn’t opened yet, so we had no idea who our customer was and what styles she would gravitate towards… so we bought everything that WE liked! It worked out fairly well, thankfully, but our buying process has continued to develop as we’ve built relationships with our customers. Our primary goal is to elevate the sense of style seen here in the Corridor, and more specifically Cedar Rapids, so we play it safe with some selections and stick with classic pieces made with great materials, and in other selections we like to push the boundaries a little.
What is next for “the boutique”?
M: We’re always dreaming about the future! However we’re still young… November will mark 2 years since opening. For now we’re focused on providing Cedar Rapids women with a local boutique where they can experience a little retail therapy and a little personal attention, while introducing them to designers and styles that they’d find when shopping in the city. We meet new people every day that are visiting “the boutique” for the first time, so we know we still have an impression to make!