Magazine Feature / People

Alumnae open boutique on Old South Pearl

Sarah Hussion (IMBA ’06) and Megan Smith (BSBA ’06) say they are the youngest business owners in a hot business district: Old South Pearl Street. They are 27 and 23, respectively.

“I think it’s a key differentiator for us,” Hussion says. “We are a new generation and we are trying to be socially responsible in everything we do.”

Their clothing boutique, Unity at 1455 South Pearl Street, offers trendy new clothing for men and women. Most of their manufacturers “give back” in some way, whether by donating to a social movement, such as the fight against AIDS, or by using only organic materials. Clothing items sell for less than $200.

Smith and Hussion met as students at the University of Denver and were friends for two years before they decided to open a boutique.

“I was still in school,” Smith says. “So, we had access to the library and databases for our business plan, which helped us so much.”

Both Hussion and Smith agree that their business degrees have been invaluable, not only because of the education, but also because of the support they’ve received from their alma mater.

The Clarion did a story on us and we’ve been invited to speak at classes,” Hussion says.

And, after family and friends, DU students have been Unity’s most loyal customers since the boutique’s opening on March 1.

They set a strong daily sales goal for themselves in their business plan and say they’ve been surpassing that on a regular basis. But they have had at least one unpleasant surprise: a shoplifter.

“Looking back, I think it was a crime of opportunity,” says Smith. “We got busy all of a sudden and the area was hidden from us.”

The owners promptly rearranged the store and made a more concerted effort to greet everyone who walks in.

They say there have been several “real life” lessons that they couldn’t have learned from a textbook — a glitch in the credit card machine 24 hours prior to opening and 12 layers of wallpaper they had to remove from the walls of their shop after leasing. Still, they love what they’re doing.

“In another five years or so, I could see us opening another location, maybe in Denver or in the mountains,” Hussion says.

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