Steveston couple Bernadette Guzman and John Kehayas have been the owners of Violethill Fashion Boutique for five years but their involvement dates back to when the store opened in September 2010.
John is a general contractor and it is his beautiful work behind the shop’s tasteful interior with its high ceilings, mouldings, and bold navy blue paint.
Bernadette says, “It was so wonderful to have kept something that was special to John as it was his very first commercial design. It was amazingly familiar as he built it from nothing and we were both there from start to finish.”
Fashion has always been one of Bernadette’s passions. She says with a smile, “A clothing boutique has great perks and I get to have first hand, on trend fashion.”
John and Bernadette made Violethill what it is today by changing most of the brands and selections and catering to three generations of women from Grade 7 girls to their sporty moms, and onward to their empty-nester fashionable moms in their 80s. For the past seven years the Richmond News has awarded Violethill Richmond’s Best Woman’s Fashion Store.
“From our top seller’s collections we may buy only three pieces so that our customers will have exclusive and unique outfits.” Bernadette Guzman
She adds, “Hearing our customers say they get so many compliments on their outfit makes us feel extra special and that’s when we know we are buying the right pieces for them.”
Easy to wear dresses, lightweight sweaters and unique details are some of this winter’s hot clothing trends.
Gentle Fawn is a clothing designer based in Tsawwassen. Inspired by nature and the urban city lifestyle of the West Coast, Gentle Fawn designs feminine, effortless pieces perfect for everyday.
Bernadette mentions, “Their styles sell out, so be sure to buy your piece for the holidays.”
Desigual is based in Spain and is known for its trendy patchwork designs, intense prints, graffiti art, asymmetrical designs and flamboyant splashes of colour.
Another popular line is Australian company Minkpink that specializes in casual dresses and cheeky graphic prints.
Pink Martini is a Canadian company that creates casual and original garments. A new international addition to the store is fashion-forward company Karimadon known for its trendy and stylish lines.
Bernadette says, “We support local clothing and jewellery lines such as Object Local, I Love Tyler Madison, B Wear, Katz and Dahl and Be Unique.”
In addition to clothing, the boutique carries footwear including waterproof breathable leather boots, stylish shoes and flip-flops. Accessories such as scarves, jewellery, belts, sunglasses and European handbags help complete an outfit.
A reward of the business is assisting customers put outfits together and being their personal shopper.
“With this level of service our customers return because they appreciate our taste. They feel comfortable suggesting other products they would like us to carry,” she says.
You may have seen the Violethill mobile fashion boutique at local events. How did this creative marketing enterprise transpire?
John explains, “Our business took an outward leap forward with an almost unknown concept in Canada, having a fashion truck, a mobile boutique, bring shopping to customers. In May 2015 when my son and I were riding the bus the idea dawned on me and we began a yearlong journey creating baby Violet, our fashion truck. I was curious if anyone else had thought of this idea and there were two girls in Toronto who had done this. Construction started, and in May 2016 we did our launch and captivated the Lower Mainland. We were the first fashion truck in Canada that grew from a storefront.”
“The concept is simple, we come to you, rather than buying an item online and realizing it’s not what you thought it was, and having to do that dreadful return. Part of our focus is fundraising. We will contribute 20 per cent of our sales back to a cause. Women love to shop, and it’s a much faster way to raise money for schools and other organizations rather than car washes, bottle drives, selling chocolate bars or books,” John says.
Bernadette and John have been present at numerous events and festivals including the PNE, car free days on Main, Commercial and Denman, Latincouver, World Festival, Greek Festival and West Coast Women’s Show.
Their ultimate goal is to host private parties where women can invite their friends and family for a girls’ night out of shopping at their convenience.
These entrepreneurs are continuing to creatively diversify. The shop now offers some skin care products, natural soaps and candles.
Bernadette comments, “I love fragrances like the smell of a fresh clean boutique, so I am working with a local natural product company here in the heart of Steveston village, to come up with a Violethill scent. I am so excited to have it launch soon. I’m hoping to have it out before the holidays. I will be collaborating with them so we will have their name on the label as well.”
“We envision Violethill being a lifestyle store offering the feeling of a one-stop shop for all your fashion and feel good needs. We want to carry everyday basics including luxurious home décor and skincare products,” she says.
Bernadette points out, “Running our own business in this wonderful community is amazing. We feel blessed. Everyone is so warm and friendly. It’s lovely to see all the familiar faces and get to know them on a personal level when they drop into the store.”
“It’s such a great feeling to have customers leave our store feeling unique and special with their purchase,” she concludes.
Violethill Fashion Boutique
108-12211 No. 1 Road, Richmond, BC V7E 1T6