Laurie Klopper ’88, Owner Blush Boutique
After graduating from Beaumont in 1988, Laurie Klopper earned an undergraduate degree in public policy from the University of Connecticut and then returned to Cleveland to earn her JD from Cleveland Marshall College of Law (Cleveland State University). She worked for Cuyahoga County as an attorney for twelve years first for the Court of Common Pleas, then for the Court of Appeals.
Currently, Laurie is the owner of Blush Boutique.
How did you go from being a lawyer to owning a boutique?
The opportunity sort of presented itself. I was making jewelry and selling it in a gallery in Little Italy owned by Gina Dudik. She wanted to close the gallery to focus more on clothes and accessories and we became partners. I just bought her out this year – she’s having her second baby and she wanted more time with her family.
That’s kind of an unusual career path.
I guess I could always go back to law if I had to, but this is my passion and I really want it to work.
So Blush is having a birthday?
It will be three years old this year, on Black Friday.
And you’re the sole owner now.
Yes, and I made some changes. Before, the store was white with white fixtures, sort of stark. I brought in a bunch of antique furniture I had and made it a little more whimsical. I brought in old ladders I painted and we hang things off of them. People who came in before think this is a totally new store, but we just redecorated. Now my store is really colorful.
Where do you get your merchandise?
I’ve been to Chicago twice, and then reps come to see me. I probably have 20 to 25 different designers from all over the country on the floor right now. In some cases I’m the only store in the Midwest carrying these designers. These are smaller lines and labels you won’t see at major department stores, and I only buy six pieces of any one style and I don’t reorder.
I worked at J Crew and Banana Republic for seven years. I love their clothes and I still have pieces that are 15 years old, but if you buy a dress from them there’s probably 500,000 dresses like that in the country – 50 to 200 at that one store alone. With my pieces, you won’t see everyone walking around in the same thing. I just bought some sparkly holiday dresses – I have three of each, small, medium and large so if you had one, chances are if you’re at a party, no one else will come in wearing the same dress.
Who’s your clientele? Who do you buy for?
I’m geared to the professional woman, probably 25 to 50 years old. I have lots of pieces that are really versatile so a woman can wear something to work, then put on a strappy sandal and wear it out at night. For moms I have lots of layering sweaters they can wear at their kids’ soccer games, but then also wear to work or out for dinner. As a mom that’s how I buy – with multiple uses in mind.
So Blush is doing well?
Sales in September and October went way up. The other change I made this fall was that I lowered my price point. Almost everything in the store is under $100. I don’t want people to feel like they have to go home and think about purchasing something, because nine times out of ten when they return, the piece has been sold. I want people to find something here and say “that’s really cute and that’s a great price.”
Here in Cleveland, most people buy at the mall, but in other cities like San Francisco or Philadelphia, people find most of their clothes at locally owned boutiques. The local food movement is very big here; I’d like to see a local shopping movement become as big as it is in other markets.
What do your girls think?
Elle is 11 and Lily is 7, and they think mom having a clothing store is just really cool. They’re proud of mom. When I was an attorney, well, that was okay, but now, mom has a clothes shop.
Will they come to Beaumont?
They want to! I tell everyone how I loved my experience at Beaumont. I loved the all-girl environment; in high school that’s so beneficial. I attend a lot of things at Beaumont – my girls have gone to Breakfast with Santa for years, and every time I go back it feels like I’m part of the community there.
Speaking of events, you’ll be at the Sip & Shop
Yes. I’ll have some holiday pieces, plus my own jewelry that I sell under the name Elle a Belle. I sell it at the store and on etsy.com. It’s one of the best sellers at my store.
The Sip & Shop, with over 50 vendors, artists, crafters and chefs will be held at Beaumont School Thursday, November 29, 2012 from 5:00 – 9:00 pm. Admission and parking are free.
1783 Coventry Road, Cleveland Heights OH
Hours: Monday 12 - 6 Tuesday - Saturday 12 – 8 Sunday 12 - 4