A passion for fashion

ReNeu Boutique offers an alternative for shoppers looing for unique pieces. (Heather Ogilvie/AQ)
ReNeu Boutique offers an alternative for shoppers looing for unique pieces. (Heather Ogilvie/AQ)

Local shop challenges Freddy fashion

Joanne Goodall – The Aquinian

For many people, shopping at the mall for clothing has become robotic.

Everyone looks the same, all the clothes are generic, and everyone ends up wearing American Eagle jeans underneath a Bench jacket.

It’s not an awful trend, but if everyone else has these things, what makes them special?

Heather Ogilvie poses among the racks at ReNeu. (Heather Ogilvie/AQ)
Heather Ogilvie poses among the racks at ReNeu. (Heather Ogilvie/AQ)

Heather Ogilvie cringes whenever she sees another girl wearing the same dress she’s wearing.

She craves originality. When she moved to Fredericton for Halifax, N.S., she brought with her a different idea about fashion. And in August 2006, she was ready to share these ideas, opening ReNeu Boutique.

Most of her life has been surrounded by fashion from clothes to handbags to accessories. Her closet in Halifax began to grow over time as she bought clothes at Dartmouth’s Value Village where she worked.

Drifting between jobs after graduating, Ogilvie found herself coming back to her closet. Finding it difficult to buy clothes that showed off personality, Ogilvie wondered if she was the only one feeling this way in Fredericton. She grabbed onto this niche and opened her store. She wanted to make sure it had affordable, original, and fun clothing for young people.

“I’m a little more focused with what I have in here. I’m not going to stock something that I absolutely hate, you know, just because people like it. Like UGG boots or something. It’s not my style,” Ogilvie said. “I want something with personality, that’s different. Right now, it’s a mixture of new, used, and vintage – from vintage to modern but wearable things. I’m constantly looking for new suppliers to keep people interested.”

Customers can also drop off their good-used clothing to ReNeu for consignment. Ogilvie chooses the pieces she thinks will sell and once sold the customer receives a percentage of the profits made from the clothes in either cash or store credit.

The store sells both women’s and men’s clothing, with brands like American Apparel, Thread Tees and some Asian brands on the racks.

Ogilvie said her store is constantly transforming and is happy with her business. However, the months following the opening of her store weren’t easy for Ogilvie, who had no business or entrepreneur training.

“I learned by trial and error,” she said. “I think when I started I had less focus about what I wanted from the space and I was kind of being more broad than I am now.”

“I didn’t really start turning a profit until last spring, so that was hard. But I guess the rule is, after three years small businesses usually close, so I beat that.”

Ogilvie’s start-up costs for ReNeu was small compared to most but after graduating university, getting a small business loan wasn’t as easy as it sounded. Trying to keep up with rent and her bills and having no real credit built up, Ogilvie found herself asking her parents to help out.

“My family has been very supportive and they actually leant me the operating costs of it. They floated me for a while, and loaned me money, which is great. I had that support system … for the first little while which is invaluable.”

Ogilvie still hopes that one day, the box surrounding Fredericton’s fashion scene will expand, allowing people to wear bright pinks and oranges without being judged.

And while she hopes her little shop will be part of that change, Ogilvie said she’s happy to be doing something she loves.

“Clothing has always been a passion of mine. I don’t know who said this but it was ‘You can only succeed in what you do for a living if you are passionate about it’.”

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