Phil Castle, The Business Times
Just like the fashions she sells, Ivy Parnasius has watched her boutique change over the years: moving, growing and evolving along with the market.
But some things never go out of style, among them plaids, polka dots, personalized service that turns customers into friends and the passion Parnasius brings to work every day.
“I still love it as much as I did when I opened 15 years ago,” she says.
Parnasius owns Pollux Clothing Co., a woman’s boutique with stores in downtown Grand Junction and Montrose. She passed a milestone in July with the 15th anniversary of opening her enterprise.
Parnasius did so by launching on the very same day an online outlet for the clothes and accessories she sells. She also added a private label she expects to help market the Pollux brand.
The day her first shipment of clothing with Pollux tags came in was an exciting one, Parnasius says. “It was something I’ve always dreamed of, and it was nice to see that happen.”
But Parnasius realized another dream when she first opened her boutique in 2000.
Parnasius earned a college degree in political science and contemplated becoming a lawyer. But she’d also long worked in retail, mostly clothing stores, and contemplated going into business for herself.
She ultimately pursued the later aspiration, opening Pollux Clothing Co. in a 100-square-foot space in the back of a vintage clothing store in downtown Grand Junction. Because she couldn’t afford to purchase a lot of inventory at the time, Parnasius made some of the clothing herself. “I had fun doing it,” she recalls.
As the operation grew, Parnasius twice moved the store — first to spot near the Avalon Theater and then to its current location at 321 Main St. In 2009, she opened a second location at 433 E. Main St. in Montrose. Parnasius employs a total of eight full and part-time employees.
Parnasius attributes the longevity and growth of her business to several factors. “I think customer service. Also, I just love what I do.”
Pollux Clothing Co. stocks only limited quantities of given fashions, meaning customers aren’t likely to see someone else wearing the same thing, she says.
Merchandise and displays change frequently, she adds.
“I try to make it a fun shopping experience.”
Over the years, the women who shop at her stores have become mothers and even grandmothers, she says. So there are times when three generations of customers shop together. “That’s fun to see, those families in together.”
Parnasius takes pride in providing what she says are styles for every generation. “I try to have a little bit of something for everyone.”
Pollux stocks a variety of tops, bottoms and dresses along with the accessories to go with them, including jewelry, bags and wallets. Parnasius says she and her employees personally try on everything sold in the stores to check for fit and styling.
Parnasius says one of her favorite aspects of her job always has been interacting with customers, offering suggestions and helping them with accessories that meet their needs while also creating a unique look. “We want it to be their style.”
Sometimes, the same article of clothing can be worn in different ways, Parnasius says: a top for one customer might work as a dress for another.
Fashions constantly change and trends come and go, Parnasius says. One example is the Bohemian fashions that were popular when she opened her store that since have come back in style.
Fabrics generally have improved, offering better fitting and more forgiving clothing, she says.
While catering to a broad clientele expands her customer base, Parnasius says she also faces a challenge in marketing to woman of different ages She uses a mix of various social media sites and bloggers as well as more traditional print and broadcast advertising.
Meanwhile, Parnasius hopes to also reach more customers through her new online store. The store offers the same assortment of merchandise, although a slightly different inventory than what’s sold in stores, she says.
Parnasius says she’s received orders every day since the online store opened — some from customers in the Grand Junction and Montrose areas who pick up their purchases in stores, but also some from customers far outside the area. Parnasius says she recently shipped one order to a customer in New York.
Along with the online store, Parnasius added a private label to her merchandise to further develop brand recognition. She says that’s especially important given her efforts to promote Internet sales.
As for the next 15 years in business, Parnasius says she hopes to continue to grow her operations, the online store in particular. She says she’d also consider opening another brick and mortar location if the right opportunity arises.
Parnasius expects fashions to keep changing and her operations to continue to evolve. But she’s yet to tire of her job running a boutique and interacting with her customers. That, she says, will never go out of style.
Pollux Clothing Co. operates stores at 312 Main St. in downtown Grand Junction and 433 E. Main St. in downtown Montrose. An online store is located at www.polluxclothing.com.