As the Great American Mall continues to die, and shoppers increasingly turn to online shopping, it is even more impressive that Pearl District shop Garnish turns 15 this week. Owner, and head designer of their in-house line of sleek dresses, Erica Lurie, credits that milestone to a constant reinvention.
“The environment has just changed so much. With the proliferation of social media—and having to learn a new platform every year or two—plus figuring out how to maximize all the different sales channels, sometimes all the nitty gritty digital stuff gets a little bit tedious,” Lurie says. “In order to be a good artist, you have to be a good business person. But they never expect business people to be good artists. You really have to be able to use your right and your left brain a lot.”
Lurie has managed to do both over the years growing the shop from a small Activespace in Slabtown to an Alberta shop before finally settling into her permanent location at NW 12th and Flanders. She and her crew aim to celebrate the big birthday this weekend with the requisite flowing drinks and snacks in addition to raffles for store credit, and fundraising for the Women’s Foundation of Oregon by giving 10 percent of each sale to the org. (Fundraising has become a huge part of Lurie’s business model.) Their Garnish Gives program has donated private shopping parties, personal styling sessions, store credits, and a percentage of sales to 180 schools and nonprofits in the area. Lurie estimates the revenues they donate from the program account for up to 20—25% of their gross sales. One more reason how supporting local goes right back into the economy in a way the average big box never will.
Does she have advice for new boutiques?
“Just be ready for a lot of highs and lows and to dig your heels in. There were many times when I was ready to hang up and you know, put this close sign on,” Lurie says. “Just look to what changes you can make and don't be afraid to make big changes.”