Local boutique expanding, offers more student opportunities
A well-known boutique frequented by college students both shopping and working is expanding its reach to Columbia, Missouri, home of the University of Missouri’s flagship campus.
Known for its heavy social media presence, young consumer base and resident canine Maggie, Brickwood Boutique of downtown Cape Girardeau combines tech advances with traditional retail. The boutique is going on its third year of business and features trend-conscious clothing and accessories.
Overlooking the 600 block of Broadway, Brickwood is one of three independent shops located in the historic Indie House. Built in the late 1800s, the building houses Mother Earth and High Street Station on the main level while Brickwood occupies the entirety of the second floor. A twenty-minute walk from campus and situated across the street from Catapult Creative House, the shop is located in a space that includes college student foot traffic as well as local traffic.
When Indie House owner Laurie Everett contacted now-Brickwood owner Christen Edmonds about the upstairs space at 605 Broadway, Edmonds said she felt it was the perfect place to start. Brickwood Boutique opened in April 2016, with its online shop launching December of that year.
Southeast freshman Andersyn Frick has been a Brickwood customer for nearly two years but says it was the store’s social media that first brought her to the shop. With nearly 5.8 thousand followers on Instagram and 3.8 thousand followers on Facebook, online clicks seem to translate to in-store traffic.
“With the power of social media, particularly Instagram these days, I felt like it was good timing to get started,” Edmonds said of Brickwood’s early relationship with social media. She explained she especially utilizes social media to determine which items will best fit her target market.
Deciding which wholesale items to purchase for the store? Edmonds launches an Instagram poll. Researching market trends? Instagram analytics tells her what she needs to know.
As for original Instagram content, Edmonds recruits college students — including model, sales associate and Southeast student Gabriela Castillo — to wear the store’s merchandise.
Castillo joined the Brickwood team even before it called the Indie House home. Starting as a model for Bandiez, Castillo has worked with Edmonds for more than three years. Beyond being a regular face on Brickwood’s social media, Castillo also works as a Brickwood sales associate and helps manage the store’s social media.
Castillo’s work with Brickwood doesn’t just add trendy clothing to her wardrobe, it helps academically. A fashion merchandising major, the senior fulfilled an internship credit through her work with the boutique.
In her internship, Castillo said she was given the opportunity to become further involved in managing the store and can be credited with creating the store’s signature calligraphy on shopping bags and distinctive wall signs. She also launched her own jewelry brand, Wild Heart Creationz, available for purchase at Brickwood.
Before opening Brickwood, Edmonds’ retail career started with Bandiez, her own brand of headbands sold at local shops. Edmonds explained Bandiez gave her the opportunity to cultivate relationships with local businesses and build a foundation of retail knowledge. Back then, she anticipated opening a boutique of her own someday and used the profits from Bandiez to save for a location.
“I saw a little pocket of opportunity in Cape,” Edmonds said. “As downtown started growing, I thought it would be a good opportunity to have more clothing boutiques, especially since we’re in a college town.”
Following the store’s success in Cape Girardeau, Edmonds said plans have recently been underway to bring the local shop to another college town. As a former University of Missouri student, Edmonds chose Columbia due to her familiarity with the college consumer base.
“Columbia was always a market I was looking into … just because it’s about three times the size of SEMO, and because I’ve tested the market being on a college campus, I thought that would be a smarter move,” Edmonds said. “A space opened up on Broadway, and I jumped on it.”
Edmonds hopes to recruit social media models from the University of Missouri, similar to her local social media campaign.
Brickwood Boutique is projected to open at 913 E. Broadway in Columbia by early October.