I hadn’t been shopping for at least three years. Yes, I would run to Target to grab diapers, almond milk and peanut butter. But real clothes shopping? No. So, it’s almost ironic that I was assigned to this piece. I had to walk into a real boutique for grown-ups with all sorts of pretty clothes. This wasn’t work. This was play dressed up like work.
“Empower life through fashion” is Mainstream Boutique’s tagline. And it’s immediately clear that Woodbury store owner Deb Terlizzi and manager Allison Nelson do exactly that. The mother-daughter team has been in business for six years, earning both a loyal customer base and impressive awards.
Marie DeNicola, founder and CEO of Mainstream Boutique, started this now-national franchise business in her home after moving to Minnesota for her husband’s career. When the opportunity to open a boutique in Woodbury presented itself, DeNicola looked to friend and co-worker Terlizzi, who, for three years, had been working at the Apple Valley location. “I called my daughter Allison and said, ‘Do you want to open a store with me?’” Terlizzi laughs. The answer was obviously yes.
Six years later, the duo has opened a second location in Mendota Heights and were named boutique sales champions of the year for Mainstream. And yet, with tremendous success and a full schedule, they remain grounded and grateful. “We work hard, we play hard,” Terlizzi says. “We have a good balance.”
Nelson, the mother of two young boys, appreciates that philosophy. “I can be home with my kids much of the time and at the store, doing what I love,” she says.
Terlizzi and Nelson have learned that to grow their business, they need to continue reinvesting in both the business and themselves. Terlizzi says, “We ask ourselves, ‘What else can we do?’”
The answer came in the form of a remodel. During the summer of 2015, a transformation revitalized the boutique. A faux-hardwood floor replaced cement, fresh paint brightened the space, and sparkly chandeliers took the place of lackluster lighting. A brighter and more modern and industrial look greeted customers.
One thing that hasn’t changed is the service. Terlizzi and Nelson know their products and their clientele. “Our customers want unique items that they’re not going to find at other stores,” says Nelson, who does the bulk of the buying for the two locations. She usually only purchases six of each piece to ensure that originality; so when something’s gone, it’s gone. But, not to worry. “We literally get new inventory coming in every day,” she says.
As for fall trends, Nelson points to the rack behind her. “Plaid. Plaid is really popular this year,” she says. “Leggings are definitely in again. And mixed prints will be huge.”
Terlizzi chimes in. “Booties are back in. And skinny jeans.” “Don’t forget about vests and cardigans,” Nelson says. “Oh!” Terlizzi says. “The cold shoulder! This one’s everywhere.”
Nelson must have seen the look on my face. One of confusion, maybe even horror. They explain that the “cold shoulder trend” is flattering for all women, because everyone’s shoulders look great. So, why not show them off?
For a mom who’s spent the last three years living in yoga pants, this is a bit overwhelming. “You know what?” Nelson says. “Let me dress you.” And it was a total blast. This wasn’t even work. It was total play.