Growing up, Cheshire High School junior Leah Gentile enjoyed going to stores and the mall to pick things out for her wardrobe, but over the years, she became interested in the fabric of the clothing and how it impacts the environment.
“I saw people buying cheap clothing and just throwing it away,” reflected Gentile. “It seemed like a waste.”
Last year, she settled on a way to support her love for fashion and help the world around her. In starting her own business, Viridian Boutique, Gentile enjoys selling clothing made of eco-friendly material.
“I’ve always wanted to create something that helps in multiple ways,” stated Gentile. “The whole point is that this business is a sustainable boutique. You can have style, but also be eco-friendly, so that you are not hurting the earth. ”
To start her business last summer, Gentile had to get a sales-in-use tax permit.
“It lets me access whole-sale websites, so I can buy things from them,” said Gentile.
She felt that it took her a while to build up inventory.
“When clothes are more sustainable, they are usually more expensive,” Gentile said.
After purchasing clothes and racks for them, she decided that the 2021 Cheshire Fall Festival would be a good place to open her business.
She has since attended a little over 10 events, including visits to Quinnipiac University and Trinity College. On March 28, Gentile had a table set up at the Home, Health & Garden Show at CHS.
She also has sold items at multiple craft fairs in Connecticut.
“The whole process takes a lot of trial and error. I’ve been going to places that have the right age group for me, like colleges, ”explained Gentile. “I feel that my clientele is middle school-age to late 20s and early 30s.”
Gentile looks for clothes that fit recent trends. She has found that jeans and sweatshirts have been popular items for people.
“Since it has gotten warmer, I’m looking for tank tops and t-shirts,” said Gentile. “If I bring clothes that aren’t in season (to an event), it is hard to sell them unless they are really cheap.”
Gentile runs the Viridian Boutique, but her mother provides assistance as the business manager.
“Since I’m still under (age) 18, I need people like my parents to do some things for me. She (my mom) finds places to sell things and gets contacts, ”stated Gentile, who adds that her mother and friends assist her at some events.
Gentile also sells jewelry made by fellow CHS student Hannah Young.
“She has given me jewelry as birthday gifts in the past. I thought it was unique, so I approached her for this business, ”reflected Gentile. “I tell her what I’d like and then buy it from her.”
Along with selling items in person, Gentile has also set up a website at www.viridianboutique.shop.
“I shut it down after I go to an event because I need to check my inventory and then I open it again,” Gentile explained. “I want to grow my online business, too.”
She balances her business with taking classes and playing tennis at CHS.
“It’s not a super-consuming project because I’m not making the product. I’m just selling it, ”explained Gentile.
Since opening Viridian Boutique, Gentile has used the majority of the proceeds to cover expenses.
“I take some money out to buy things, but most of the sales go back into the business. Coming into the next year, I hope to start making more profits, ”said Gentile. “In the future, I’d also like to create my own clothing.”