When a cottage near a south Johnson County crossroads went from basic white to bright blue with hot pink and neon green trim, that was all the advertising needed to jump-start a new business. Unique Boutique, a collective of local retailers and designers, recently opened in the cottage at 2396 W. 151st St., Overland Park, just west of Kenneth Road.
The current vendors:
Sister Sue Designs, locally designed baby items including cloth play blocks, nursing pads and blankets.
Blingirl, locally designed and embellished caps, tops, jewelry and accessories, some with hearts, crosses, and sports themes like the Chiefs or Soccer Mom.
Ambiance, clothing and gifts.
Uniquely Your Front Door & Décor, locally made wreathes and holiday décor, and trim-to-fit custom book covers.
Erin Paige Designs, custom jewelry and artwork. Some jewelry pieces are made from melted acrylic, crystals from antique chandeliers and copper.
For nearly two decades, Dave Rodlund used the cottage as an office for his painting business, Father and Sons Home Painting Service. Then his daughter-in-law, Daphne Rodlund, approached him about moving the office and putting the house to perhaps a better use — a collective of locally owned shops.
“I liked the idea of local people making things,” Daphne Rodlund said. “Giving mothers an opportunity to have a business without having the huge cost of putting up a shop. Once we painted the house there was no turning back.”
She also sells several product lines in the collective.
Along with raising families, some of the vendors also have other full- or part-time jobs. But most live with 10 minutes of the collective, making it easier to fit being a shop owner into their schedule.
“I have an online shop as well,” said Jennifer Thomason, owner of Sister Sue Designs, as well as a part-time nurse and mother of two. “Being a working mom it is easier to sell them online or in the co-op. That way I don’t have to work retail hours on top of having my other job.”
Connie Hutchison started Uniquely Your Front Door & Décor by turning her Leawood house into a showroom for one night. Friends and family would stop by for the shopping party. Then she started setting up her wares at craft shows, expanding her client list.
“But I wanted a place they could walk in every day. They aren’t going to be walking into my house every day,” Hutchison said. “I know how happy it makes me to have something pretty on my front door, but a lot of times when you go into shops those are too expensive. I try to create a more high-end look without the high-end price.”
Hutchinson also is mother to five children, including a daughter who is getting married on Saturday in Hutchinson’s backyard. So she created a custom focal point as an altar backdrop, using tree branches and lanterns. She also does custom displays for her customers — from events or just to pretty up their front door for the season.
“They make you feel good and they’re not something the kids are traipsing through,” she said.
Tam Nguyen was working at his cousin’s new restaurant, Pho Good Vietnamese Restaurant in Shawnee, when she decided to sell it to concentrate on family problems less than a month after its July opening. He told his friend, Ming Nguyen, owner of Oriental Feast, and they became business partners, taking over the restaurant at 10703 Shawnee Mission Parkway.
They’ve kept the original menu and added a few new items, but many customers come in for the restaurant’s namesake, the Pho Good, a rice noodle soup with a combination of flank steak, stripe, meat balls and brisket. Other menu items include fried rice, eggrolls, pickled mustard greens, crispy shrimp and deep fried quail.