By Alyssa Dearborn
Cella V. Boutique’s owner, Heather Vitale, will celebrate her brick-and-mortar store’s one year anniversary in July. Today, Heather is happily married with a two-year-old and a baby on the way and is proud to see how far her boutique in Baldwinsville has come. But creating her business and developing the store was, quite literally, a journey working from the basement up.
“It was 2018 and [my business] was actually out of my basement.” she said about the business’s origin. “I was actually going through a divorce, and it was just a really low time in my life. And I always had a part-time job in retail – my full-time job is social worker at a school – but I loved retail, loved doing fashion. So after that, when the divorce happened, I needed something in my life…my dad was like, ‘Well, don’t go back to retail. Maybe start your own thing.’ So we did! I did a lot of research, got a core bit of items, and I was just doing private parties in my basement. So people that I knew coming over, like a family member would have a party or something with their friends just to get more exposure. And that’s how I started and then I grew from there.”
When you walk into the boutique – or visit their website – you find that there is a variety of curated items to shop from. Shoppers can find clothes and accessories for casual wear, nights out, and occasions in between.
“I primarily have a bit of a bohemian vibe,” she said about the styles in her shop, “but I do expand out to really like everyday wear. And then some pieces of, like, some contemporary, some dressy work-appropriate pieces. But I really try to grab styles of all different ranges because I want to make sure that anybody who’s coming in has something that they could buy.”
A big part of Heather’s love for fashion and for her business is her passion for styling and curating unique outfits. A favorite part of her work she said is watching women come out of the fitting room smiling and feeling confident in a new outfit.
When asked about her own personal style, she laughed and said, “I don’t think I have one! I think I pull from a bunch of different styles. I do like the bohemian look, but I really do wear any style that you can think of, and almost kind of create my own. It’s almost like every person has three different wardrobes in their closet. You have everyday wear, you have your dressing up, out-with-the-girls wear, you have your going-to-work wear, and then there’s your lounge wear. I don’t think anyone particularly sticks to one style, it really tends to mesh a lot of them.”
Calling her personal style “a little funky,” Heather said she has always had a passion for styling outfits, including putting together pieces that “the average person wouldn’t do.”
“If someone came into the boutique and they really liked a shirt, but it’s maybe a different style, I would personally make an effort to sit with them and show them the different pieces and the different ways to style it. So you get more than just coming in and shopping. You get the extra touch,” she said.
She encourages her employees to do the same. “They have their own styles that they try to promote throughout the boutique,” she said. “It’s definitely a place where we’re looking more at the shopping experience versus clicking online and just picking out a shirt that you like. I want people to come in and leave with a look, a whole look. That’s the goal for it.”
Getting people back into shopping at local, brick and mortar stores is one of Heather’s goals. She wants people to realize that unique, locally-owned shops still exist and that those places are worth supporting.
“I’d like to promote the experience of shopping again.” she said, “I like the boutique to feel like a place where women can come in and have some social hour, get back to retail therapy, where you can try clothes on, you can feel them, you can see the quality. We’ve gotten into this click on Amazon, receive an outfit, and then immediately return it because you don’t like how it fits you. My first full year of brick and mortar business is in July…and I just want the opportunity to get out to people that these places still exist, they’re still around. There’s people that really do need assistance with picking out outfits and things. I’m proud of where I’ve come, but I still want to get the word out that we’re there.”
If you are interested in learning more about Heather Vitale and Cella V Boutique, visit her website at www.cella-v.myshopify.com