Interview with Judy Vandegraff of Pig’ments:A Unique Boutique, conducted by local REALTOR® Greg Pace
DESCRIBE YOUR BUSINESS.
Pig’ments: a unique boutique, is a local boutique that sell women’s apparel, accessories, handbags, gifts and home decor. We provide a unique selection of merchandise not currently represented in the LakeOswego/West Linn area and believe in personalized customer service. Our merchandise appeals to customers who posses an eclectic style in both their clothing, gift items and home decor.
For the last 15 years I considered myself semi-retired. I had been working 1-2 days a week at “Accessories From The Heart”, a boutique located in downtown Lake Oswego. The owner had made the decision to retire so I thought I would as well. After the store closed it took about one month for boredom to set in. The idea of going to work for a big corporate retailer or even seeking out another smaller local store just didn’t seem appealing to me anymore, I had already worked those jobs big and small for the last 43 years…for other people. I suggested the idea of opening my own boutique to my husband and to my surprise he said “write and business plan and see if it is feasible”, so I did just that!
HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THE NAME OF YOUR STORE?
There are two reasons I named the store pig’ments: a unique boutique. First of all, I have collected pigs for years. It started when we lived in the Bay Area and my husband,Guy, and I would visit Carmel occassionally. On one of our trips I fell in love with a beautiful wall trophy, a ceramic pig’s head wearing a flower wreath made by a local artist so I bought it and the rest is history. The second reason is my original plan was to carry Chalk Paint in the home decor section of the boutique so the word pigment seemed perfect! The plan to carry paint changed but the name didn’t, that may seem a bit weird to some but it makes perfect sense to me.
WHO ARE SOME OF YOUR BUSINESS IDOLS/ROLE MODELS, AND WHY?
One of my business idols is Mickey Drexler, currently CEO of the J Crew Group, but I knew him years ago when I worked for The Gap in the Bay Area and he was brought on as CEO there. I experienced The Gap’s transformation from an ordinary mall chain that primarily carried the Levi brand to a very cool place to shop (this was the 90’s). He had the vision to develop The Gap’s own private label, update the look of their stores and use celebrities wearing their private label merchandise in advertising. All of a sudden The Gap and their private label merchandise became cool and I watched business soar and Mickey become a retail God . His rebranding and repositioning efforts were a huge success that amaze me to this day and his fingerprints were on every single change that was made.
On the local side of things, Carol and Renner Winston, owners of “Accessories From The Heart” have been a huge resource to me in my new venture. They have talked me through everything and anything I have needed or wondered about. I know I would never have tried opening my own boutique had I not worked for them all of those years. I got to see first hand what owning your own business looks like, warts and all.
Originally I was looking at opening my store in Sellwood, partly because I was afraid I would be in Carol’s shadow if I were in Lake Oswego. As it turned out, some of the lines I wanted to carry were already represented in Sellwood but were no longer in Lake Oswego. Also Roxanne Hungerford and I, who I brought along with me from “Accessories”, realized our customer base was located in Lake Oswego and West Linn not Sellwood, so why not capitalize on what we already had!
WHY DO YOU THINK IT’S IMPORTANT FOR PEOPLE TO SHOP LOCAL?
When customers shop local they are benefitting and supporting their own community and they don’t have to go to the mall, which most people are thankful for. Small locally owned businesses give individuality and flavor to the community. The experience is unique. We like getting to know our customers and lots of times they will stop in just to say “Hi”.
ANYTHING ELSE YOU WOULD LIKE TO ADD?
Our mission is to add inspiration, creativity and value to peoples lives through the fashion forward mix of eclectic merchandise we sell in a unique atmophere. Roxie and I try very hard to realize that lofty statement by having the right merchandise at the right time with a variety of price points and providing great customer service and I think most days we come pretty close!