In a neighborhood known for its one-of-a-kind bars, delicious Ethiopian food and the largest slice of pizza you’ve ever seen, you won’t find much retail; but you will find Violet Boutique. Nestled in the heart of Adams Morgan, the boutique is the only retailer geared towards young women in the neighborhood, and dedicated shoppers come from all over Washington D.C. for the stunning pieces, great prices (much less than you would expect at an exclusive boutique), and to talk to the owner—Julie Egermayer.
It’s 12:30 PM on a Wednesday afternoon, and I’m on my lunch break. Apparently, there are 4 or 5 other shoppers in the cozy and colorful space who are also using their lunch breaks to shop. Julie speaks to each one, something I wouldn’t expect an owner of a store to do. But she loves to interact with her customers. “It’s the most rewarding part [of owning Violet Boutique]. I love getting to know my customers and sharing in so many of their experiences,” Julie says. She really means it—Julie knows many of her customers by name, and has a ton of regulars. “We have a good amount of customers who come in every week.”
It is this passion for people and their shopping experiences that pushed Julie to leave the world of health policy and enter the realm of retail. She opened this store, her very first, with her own money. “I had money saved that I put behind this.”
Without any prior experience in the business of owning a business, Julie wasn’t afraid to ask for help. “I was kind of weak on a lot of the business things; obviously a policy and social work background does not deal with finance at all,” laughs Julie during our interview. To help her on the business end, Julie tapped her cousin, also a boutique owner, as her buyer and worked with a financial adviser, a retail consultant and even a real estate lawyer. “The most challenging part of owning Violet Boutique is the business side and getting my store to be this well-oiled machine , but there is something really fun about growing a business.”
It’s hard to imagine that this savvy boutique owner needed any help at all! Julie opened in the store in March 2011, and it has already garnered the attention of locals and industry insiders. Just four months after opening, The Washingtonian included Violet Boutique in its “Best Of” issue. Julie names the Washingtonian nod as one of the best moments of her career. In addition, the June 2012 release of the store’s look book drew flocks of local bloggers to the store to peruse the new merchandise.
Of course, it is the merchandise that is Violet Boutique’s biggest draw. Julie receives new items each week, keeping shoppers interested and making them regular customers. “I know it’s what sets [Violet Boutique] apart,” says Julie of her weekly inventory changes. “Being in Adams Morgan, being the only retail boutique here, I had to give people a reason to keep coming back. They’re making a trip to shop here, so I really want to put on a show.”
Managing a boutique is hard work! Julie could easily pull an 11- or 12-hour day, so it helps that she has such great staff to spend the time with. “They’re just cool, smart girls. I don’t think I could have gotten any luckier. They’re such hard workers, and they’re all so amazing,” says Julie of her staff. “We’re proud of ourselves for being young women and seeing that for the amount of work we put in, we get that much success.”
Visit Violet Boutique the next time you’re in Adams Morgan (Violet Boutique, 2439 18th ST NW, Washington, D.C. 20009).