Growing up, Leah Gentile, a junior from Cheshire High School, loved going to stores and the mall to choose things for her wardrobe, but over the years she became interested in the fabric of clothing and its impact on the environment.
“I saw people buying cheap clothes and throwing them away,” Gentile said. “It seemed like a waste.”
Last year, she found a way to support her love of fashion and help the world around her. Starting her own business, Viridian Boutique, Gentile enjoys selling clothes made from eco-friendly materials.
“I’ve always wanted to create something that helps in multiple ways,” Gentile said. “The thing is, this business is a sustainable boutique. You can be stylish, but also be eco-friendly, so you don’t harm the planet.
To start his business last summer, Gentile had to obtain a current sales license.
“It gets me to wholesale websites, so I can buy things from them,” Gentile said.
She estimated that it took her a while to put together an inventory.
“When clothes are more durable, they’re usually more expensive,” Gentile said.
After buying clothes and clothes racks for them, she decided Cheshire Fall Festival 2021 would be a good place to open her business.
Since then, she has attended just over 10 events, including visits to Quinnipiac University and Trinity College. On March 28, Gentile set a table at the CHS Home, Health and Garden show.
She also sold items at several Connecticut craft fairs.
“The whole process takes a lot of trial and error. I’ve been to places that have the right age group for me, like colleges,” Gentile explained. “I feel like my clientele ranges from middle school to late twenties and early thirties.”
Gentile looks for clothes that match the latest trends. She found that jeans and sweatshirts were popular items with people.
“Since it’s warmer, I’ve been looking for tank tops and t-shirts,” Gentile said. “If I bring clothes that are out of season (to an event), it’s hard to sell them unless they’re really cheap.”
Gentile runs the Viridian store, but her mother helps her as a business manager.
“As I am still under 18, I need people like my parents to do certain things for me. She (my mom) finds places to sell things and gets contacts,” said Gentile, who adds that her mom and friends help out at some events.
Gentile also sells jewelry made by fellow CHS student Hannah Young.
“She gave me jewelry as birthday presents in the past. I thought it was unique, so I approached her about this business,” Gentile said. “I tell her what I would like and I then buy it from him.”
In addition to selling items in person, Gentile has also created a website at www.viridianboutique.shop.
“I turn it off after attending an event because I need to check my inventory and then turn it on again,” Gentile explained. “I also want to grow my business online.”
She balances her business with lessons and plays tennis at CHS.
“It’s not a super-consumer project because I don’t make the product. I’m just selling it,” Gentile explained.
Since opening Viridian Boutique, Gentile has used the majority of profits to cover expenses.
“I withdraw money to buy things, but most of the sales go back to the company. As we approach next year, I hope to start making more profit,” Gentile said. “In the future, I would also like to design my own clothes.”