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Womens’ boutique definitely has a ‘Purpose’

Ashleigh Lauber, left, and Christie Johnson, have combined their knowledge of fashion and their desire to help others to create a women’s clothing botique in downtown Bremerton. Part of their proceeds go to charity. - Leslie Kelly
Ashleigh Lauber, left, and Christie Johnson, have combined their knowledge of fashion and their desire to help others to create a women’s clothing botique in downtown Bremerton. Part of their proceeds go to charity.
— image credit: Leslie Kelly

It’s a place with purpose. Actually, several purposes.

Purpose, the just-recently opened women’s boutique on Fourth Street in downtown Bremerton has the perfect name.

“As we were putting this place together, we kept saying, ‘Our purpose is this,’ ‘Our purpose is that,’ “ said Christie Johnson, owner. “It just hit us. We’ve got to name it Purpose.”

The boutique at 296 Fourth St. is just next-door to Amy Burnett’s art gallery and the Pyrex Glass Museum. Johnson’s renting the space from Burnett and the businesses are joined by a decorative glass door.

Inside Purpose, “where style meets purpose,” racks are filled with colorful dresses, skirts, blouses and tops. Beaded necklaces, earrings and bracelets sit on a table in the center of the boutique.  There’s a couple of high-back leather chairs where shoppers can rest and look through fashion magazines. The store’s colors - turquoise and white with a soft yellow - compliment the brick walls and wood floors.

The boutique is a dream come true for Johnson, a mother of two, who has always liked fashion.

“When I was little, I’d play dress up all the time,” she said. “And I’ve always enjoyed fashion. It’s just a part of who I am.”

Prior to starting the boutique, Johnson would host fashion parties at her house. She’d invite women in to buy dresses and blouses that she’d purchased from manufacturers. And always, she’s put aside part of the profits for charity. Most of the time, she’d make donations to World Vision, because she and her husband are sponsors of two children, Joseph, in Zambia and Mercy from Kenya.

Johnson, from Charlotte, N.C.,  has been in Bremerton for the past two and one-half years. Her husband, Flip, is a submarine officer with the Navy. It was through a Bible study that she met Ashleigh Lauber, another Navy wife.

“We were friends first,” Johnson said. “And now we’re business partners. She’s the one with a lot of the creative ideas.”

Lauber, too, is from the south. Atlanta, to be specific. And both women agree that one of the purposes of the boutique is to encourage women to participate in style and give back.

“We both believe that there is a greater purpose,” Johnson said. “We want women to come here and know that they can find something that they can wear and feel beautiful in and at the same time know that part of what they pay will go to help others.”

Currently 20 percent of the store’s profits are given to World Vision. The women also have plans to expand their giving to include local charities.

Johnson and Lauber also believe in good customer service. With each woman who walks in the boutique, they give one-on-one service.

“We’re not going to tell anybody how to dress or put them in a style that they aren’t comfortable in, Johnson said. “But we will make suggestions based on cut and fit and make sure it’s flattering. That’s just part of our job.”

The shop’s fashions include trends and the classics, she said. They buy their inventory at various fashion markets. They’ve just returned from Las Vegas apparel mart where they bought for fall.

“We’re adding in denim,” she said. “And we’re adding some boots and shoes.”

For fall, the fashion trend includes leather and white is among the colors, along with mustard, burgundy, and emerald tones.

“It sounds strange,” said Johnson. “But there are some very exciting things coming.”

Johnson stresses that the pieces she keeps in the boutique are comfortable and don’t need special undergarments in order to wear them. She said many of them are items that can be worn to work, or to watch the kid’s at soccer practices, or out to eat, just by dressing them up or down.

“Our fashions are transitional outfits,” she said. “And we try to hit various price points so pretty much anyone can shop here. We have very few items over $60 to $70, and many are under $50.”

Right now they stock extra small to extra large. In the future, she hopes to expand to carry even larger sizes to accommodate all women.

For both Johnson and Lauber, coming from the south, they love the Pacific Northwest, but have had to adjust.

“In the south, we dress up, even if we’re just going to the grocery store or Costco,” Johnson said. “That doesn’t happen here. So I’ve had to tone it down.”

When Johnson’s husband decided to “invest” in a boutique, she researched where to lease space.

“I thought about Poulsbo,” she said. “And I looked all around. But somehow I kept coming back to downtown Bremerton and Fourth Street. Bremerton’s a beautiful town.”

Vacant storefronts on Fourth Street and debates about the trees didn’t matter, she said.

“There’s just no reason why we shouldn’t be here,” she said. “We may be the pioneers. But if we can do it, others can, too.”

With the shop up and running, Johnson also offers Parties with a Purpose, where women can book a evening to bring in a group in and she and Lauber will help the women shop in private. They serve drinks and snacks and try on outfits.

“It’s sometimes hard for women ­— especially those with children — to shop for themselves,” Johnson said. “This is just one way for them to be able to shop and have fun.”

For more go to www.purposebotique.com, or call 704-975-9696. They also have a Facebook page at Purpose Boutique.

 

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