In a small town, it’s easy to spot a new business, and customers have been quick to check out TulipLeaves Boutique, one of downtown’s newest.
“One of the things we hear over and over again is that people are happy to have something different,” said Andrea Lochan, who opened the store Nov. 9 at 1025B Canyon St. (the former location of Kidtastic Children’s Clothing Company), offering women’s fashions, jewelry and beauty products, and men’s luxury bamboo underwear and T-shirts.
“We’ve always loved clothing, and loved fashion,” said Jenny Tyler, Lochan’s daughter, a medical technology researcher.
They’ve already discovered local fashions, selling jewelry by Allison Bjorkman of Creston’s Puffin Design, and becoming the exclusive Creston retailer for Nelson’s Blue Sky Clothing Co.
Along with the store’s mascot, Fearless, an applehead Chihuahua, the relative newcomers — both arrived within the last eight months — have been warmly welcomed to the community.
“It’s a great little town, especially once you get to know the people,” Tyler said. “The first day we were open I learned more about events than the few months I was here.”
Lochan studied hairdressing and esthetics in Toronto in the 1970s — maintaining her licence to this day — and had a salon and spa when her daughters were young. She went back to school in the 1980s to earn a degree in social work, her subsequent employment taking her to Fort Nelson, Fort St. John and Kelowna, where she also ran spas and boutiques. Most recently, she was a probation officer with the Northwest Territories Justice Department for over a decade.
Rather than simply launching the new business, Lochan took a three-month professional development training program at Kootenay Employment Services.
“That helped me refresh my memory about business after being with the government for 15 years,” she said.
She made the store different than others in town, offering not only a large selection of lingerie, which can be fitted and special ordered, but also clothing in larger sixes, up to 4X — a pleasant surprise for customers who enter not expecting to find something both wearable and stylish.
“You actually notice a change,” said Tyler. “It’s almost like they’re used to not being helped. … Not everyone in a plus size wants to wear some ridiculous unfashionable floral skirt. They’ll walk out of here with a rad outfit on.”
And if TulipLeaves doesn’t carry something in a certain size, it can likely be ordered from a catalogue, and Lochan and Tyler are happy to use the Internet to provide personal shopping.
Lochan eventually hopes to develop her own clothing line and produce it in the Creston Valley, but she and Tyler are happy for now to see locals enjoying a new outfit, whether it’s something they’re wearing every day or to an event.
“They promise to go to the party and take pictures for me, and come back and show me,” said Tyler. “I know it’s ‘just clothes’, but it’s more than that. People come in with the mindset of spoiling themselves.”
And TulipLeaves allows that spoiling by keeping in touch with current trends and not just filling racks and shelves with what customers expect.
“Everyone says this is an old people town,” said Lochan. “But it became an ‘old people town’ because there was no choice.”
“It’s nice to bring a little spice to Creston,” said Tyler. “Everyone needs a little change, to be their sparkly, beautiful selves without judgment.”