December 2013

Louette: A Unique Boutique

Author: Rebecca Edwards | Photographer: Photography by Anne

Leslie Hughes is “boutique-ing,” not shopping, at Louette in the Village Exchange. If she were shopping, she would be sifting through mounds of clothes or shelves of home goods. She would probably feel ignored by the salesperson and less than inclined to greet the storeowner. And she would probably be merely filling a retail void, rather than actually enjoying herself and taking her time to peruse and appreciate a little time away from her three young boys.

Yet, because she is boutique-ing, and more specifically at Louette, she is familiar with certain clothing designers; admiring their recent work, she is greeted by the storeowner, Heather Quinn, with a happy-to-see-you hug. She is here because ever since she first stepped inside Louette she “felt instantly attracted to how soft and how intricate everything is.” Hughes points over to a display of urban, handcrafted-looking tops and comfortable, yet posh-looking bottoms and adds, “Like those brown leggings over there—I love them. I also bought a beautiful, comfortable top from here for my Christmas family photo shoot.”

“I want to provide a true and enjoyable experience, not just racks with merchandise with no thought behind it,” Quinn said. She also says that she “is drawn to women entrepreneurs” and hand-selects all of her vendors. Take, for example, the leather bag and accessory line Satchel. “Satchel was started by a Savannah College of Art and Design student. I carry her bags because I want to support her,” Quinn said.

She is also attracted to conscious living and is, therefore, very thoughtful and selective when choosing her merchandise. “I handpick every item and make every effort to buy organic or environmentally/socially-sensitive products made locally or in the U.S.A.,” Quinn said.

Yet she never forgets her customer—the everyday woman—when she goes on her buying trips. “I go to market in Atlanta and New York, and I try to focus on lines that you can’t get just anywhere else and that can fit all body types. I want to carry things that make people feel good about themselves,” she said.

This philosophy also translates into Louette’s physical space. All structural materials (the walls, dressing room doors, and display tables) are made from reclaimed objects and repurposed to reinvigorate life and be mindful and meaningful.

“My husband made almost every piece of furniture,” Quinn said. Pointing to a rusticated, yet mod-looking piece with a base made of several different doors cut into segments and then reassembled and painted in different colors, she said. “Like our kiosk there. I don’t know how my husband made it, but I know it’s too heavy to ever leave here.”

In fact every element of Louette is a thoughtful homage, honoring her family and friends. For example, the boutique is named after Quinn’s grandmother, Louette, the woman who taught her that “no matter your circumstances, you can always afford the finer things in life—you just have to be creative about it.”

Breathless Paper, Co is a line of greeting and thank you cards created and owned by Quinn’s childhood friend Jessica that offers a combination of flawless vintage imagery, great sayings and top-notch quality. These cards remind you to take the time to properly acknowledge people in your life—something that is important to Quinn and perhaps one of the reasons she is so purposeful and considerate. After all, she knows what it means to lose someone very special. In April 2012, she and her husband lost their infant daughter Harper Louette Quinn. In the wake of their tragedy, Quinn poured her energy into the boutique and was surprised and blessed with her second child Ella Grace only five months ago. (Note: Quinn is every active in The Zoe Foundation, “a 501©(3) non-profit organization that helps uplift families who have lost infants by easing the financial burden of memorial costs, as well as providing support through local groups and peer connections.”)

Though Quinn does not let her loss define her, it does give some insight into who she is and why Louette offers such an elegant, considerate boutique experience. “I want to empower people, whether it is the designer or the customer,” she said.

Just as Quinn is speaking, Hughes’ mother-in-law and boutique-ing buddy holds up a Nation, Ltd. tunic and exclaims, “Leslie, this would look great on you!”
Leslie smiles and so does Quinn—and that’s just the point and the purpose of Louette, a true boutique.

Other Must Haves:
Barr Co: A collection of handcrafted, made in the U.S.A. soaps, lotions and candles.
Ice Milk Aprons: This gourmet line of heirloom aprons is made from 100 percent linen and comes in a mason jar.

fashionABLE: The mission of this line “is to create sustainable business for Africans so they aren’t dependent upon charity, but instead earn the dignity of a job.” Quinn sells one artisan’s textured scarves, which are made from “ridiculously soft cotton.”
Red Haute: A clothing line that blends simplicity and sophistication to give women fashionable and figure flattering clothes.

Left of Houston: Named after “one of the epicenters of all things design, art and culture, this brand takes a proverbial left from conventional fashion approaches” to give you comfortable, yet stylish clothes.

Heather Fashion: Sleek and sexy, yet totally something you would throw in your suitcase or on in a mad dash; this line is a favorite of Jessica Alba.

Zebi Baby: A fusion of vintage and modern looking baby clothing that actually makes you want to be invited to a baby shower just so you can have the cutest gift.

YaYa Bamboo: This woman-owned business believes “that every person can buy gorgeous products and still maintain an eco-friendly lifestyle.”

Louette, A Boutique is located at 32 Palmetto Bay Rd., Suite 9A on Hilton Head Island. Visit www.louetteboutique.com or call 843.686.4141.

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