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Shabby Chic Boutique owner turns job loss into opportunity

By Journal Staff

Date:

FAYETTEVILLE — Losing your job isn’t always a bad thing.

For Lisa Hogan, being laid off two years ago brought an opportunity. Because of her company’s “last-hired, first-fired” policy for downsizing, Hogan was fired in 2011 from a salon/spa development partner position at the cosmetics manufacturer and distributor Aveda Corp., a unit of the Estée Lauder Companies, Inc.

After applying for new jobs and considering several offers, she decided to leave the corporate world and pursue her childhood passion — interior design.

 “My mother is an exceptional interior decorator, my sister is an art teacher, and my brother is landscape architect. I think it’s in the bloodline,” Hogan says. “I decided to open up a little boutique to help people affordably have home décor in Central New York.”

On Feb. 16, Hogan opened Shabby Chic Boutique in an approximately 1,000-square foot leased space on the second floor of the Canal Barn at 7070 Cedar Bay Road in Fayetteville. It the first specialized “shabby chic” store in Central New York offering vintage furniture and other decorative items for the home, she contends.

Hogan is the owner, manager, and currently the only employee of Shabby Chic Boutique. She says she funded the business completely with her own funds, but declined to disclose the exact amount of the investment.

Before working at Aveda, Hogan was a franchise owner of two Curves health and fitness clubs in Tully and Nedrow from 2003 to 2008. She also previously worked as a sales and marketing manager for exhibit design company Innovative Display & Design and as an exhibits and event planner for Inficon. Hogan holds a master’s degree in business administration from Syracuse University.

 

Shabby-chic style

Shabby Chic Boutique offers refurbished and repurposed vintage furniture and a mix of new and old home décor accessories. Hogan seeks to provide customers a unique shopping experience and to broaden the traditional upscale shabby-chic market by attracting middle-income consumers. Hogan also hopes that the store’s location, a 30-year-old renovated barn alongside Erie Canal, can inject a historic vibe into her shop.

The shabby-chic style combines two seemingly paradoxical elements — ”shabby,” which is dilapidated and faded, and “chic,” which is elegant and stylish, according to “Shabby Chic,” a book written by British designer and Shabby Chic furniture retailer founder Rachel Ashwell. The style is characterized by repainted aged furniture and decorative items — such as velvet bedspreads and floral embroidered pillows — with washed-out colors, she says.

For Hogan, shabby chic is more than just a trending home décor fashion; it is a style that can add zest and pleasure to people’s daily life. “I think it’s just great to introduce what was used many, many years ago in today’s living,” Hogan says. “You can serve tea in a vintage silver teacup, instead of microwaving a cup of hot water and using a mug. It’s a bit fancier and more formal. And you can really have fun with people in your home.”

Starting last October, Hogan traveled around Central New York to accumulate old furniture through people’s yard and garage sales and then refurbished them. Her store now holds more than 400 pieces, including an assortment of shabby-chic style furniture, vintage glassware, lamps, and paintings. Hogan says her products are “a mix of old and new,” with both one-of-kind unduplicated furniture and all-new accessories with vintage looks. In the past month since it opened, the boutique has sold 50 pieces. She adds new items to the store’s lineup every week.

In order to better demonstrate the furniture, Hogan created thematic arrangements in her showroom. All furniture is grouped and organized for a specific room setting, such as a dining room or a children’s bedroom. She also offers visitors a free cup of tea or coffee, or a glass of wine.

 “I want to offer a fun and lighthearted experience, as opposed to just going into a showroom full of furniture,” said Hogan.

Even though shabby-chic style furniture is renovated old furniture, the prices aren’t always inexpensive. Thus, it usually attracts a high-income customer. But Hogan wants to broaden the market by offering affordable prices. The prices of her products range from $2.99 for small items to $1,500 for Victorian style sofa.

“I wouldn’t want to quarter myself into saying it’s for only middle-income people. I have college students coming to my shop and I also have people living in high-end houses coming to my shop,” Hogan says. “But I think the prices speak middle-income.”

In addition to furniture sales, the boutique offers several individualized services. Customers can ask for a specific type of piece, such as a silver candle set or a Middle-Age style dining table, and then Hogan will try to find matched pieces for them. Moreover, through partnering with local artists, the store offers painting service for its customers, like decorating furniture or replicating faded paintworks.

When discussing her future plans, Hogan says she is still reluctant to start selling her store’s items online.

“I think it goes back to my distinct shopping boutique experience,” Hogan says. “The only way to get that is to experience it, to touch, feel, and see it in my shop.”

Shabby Chic Boutique (www.shabbychiccny.com) is open from Tuesday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

 

Contact The Business Journal at news@cnybj.com

 

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