Blush Boutique: new chic on the block
Have you noticed the changing window displays at Blush Boutique, Coventry Road’s newest fashion-forward shop for women? Step inside and co-owners Gina Dudik and Laurie Warshawsky patiently let you browse. “I don’t like to hover,” says Warshawsky. But she does hope you’ll request help.
“Older customers, they’ll buy our jewelry, but don’t even think to look around.” A recent walk-in was convinced she wouldn’t find anything among the hip, eclectic collections, until Warshawsky showed her their Treehouse28 line of sophisticated organic cotton dresses and tops. “I called her when a new shipment arrived. She bought more!”
Warshawsky acknowledges boutique shopping can be intimidating. When naming their store, the partners avoided words too young sounding, or too mature. “We did not want to alienate any one age group,” says Dudik, adding, “Blush has sold the same label to girls in high school, women in their 70s and everyone in-between.”
Edgy and classy coexist at Blush. Holding up a Suzabelle black dress, Warshawsky chimes, “any lawyer could wear this.” If you’re an off-the-rack gal, Blush may not appeal. “But people looking for something different, who are a little bit more open-minded and creative in their dressing, will find something here,” explains Dudik. For those looking to add a “wow” piece to their wardrobe, customers will find colorful, handmade items not easily found elsewhere. Bestseller Iheartfink’s screen-printed garments are in only half a dozen stores nationwide.
Alongside funky labels from such places as Seattle and San Francisco, Blush sells Dudik’s own bright and whimsical clothing line, Dutchess von Dudik, and Warshawsky’s elegant Elle a Belle gemstone jewelry. Blush also proudly promotes other homegrown talent. Warshawsky points to popular resin earrings by Sionann Monroe’s Erie Design Group, fanciful hand-painted shoes from Rachel Lanese’s Crafttastrophe, and ruffled mufflers handknit by Pavia Lewis. All, including Warshawsky, live in Cleveland Heights.
The owners chose Cleveland Heights because it offers a diverse customer base. Dudik, who owned Gina’s Gallery in Little Italy, was itching to move and focus on fashion, her primary passion. She called Warshawsky, whose jewelry was her top seller. “I kept thinking Laurie would be the perfect partner. She has great style and energy.” The stars aligned. Warshawsky, mother of two, had just quit her day job as a lawyer. “I said yes, but it had to be Coventry.”
Dudik raves about the Coventry foot traffic. “If I had stayed in Little Italy, I honestly would have ended up closing. It wasn’t busy enough. If we had opened in a suburban shopping center, we’d probably be closed by now. People are choosing to live and shop here and support their local neighborhood because they want it to remain nice. What good will it do if all these storefronts remain empty?”
Blush’s business model is affordable chic (most items cost between $20-$200), and based on the owners love for wearable art. As designers, they appreciate original pieces because they make these things themselves. Even the interns can be found crafting belts and headbands at the worktable in back. “One intern sold a belt right out of her hand after she made it, and that was the biggest thrill to her.” Dudik is delighted her business partner can now see the reaction of customers. “For Laurie to see how people love her stuff, I love that.”
1783 Coventry Road, Cleveland Heights216-721-5319
Marci Bernstein Lu is a nonprofit and philanthropic consultant residing in Cleveland Heights.