It was the love of a building that led to a whirlwind two weeks of renovation, a new career for one of the owners, and to the opening of Bohéme, the new clothing store that opened in August.
“I have always been fascinated by this building (the old Coldwell Banker building at 65 North Beach Road) and said, ‘if that space opens up I want to run a shop in it,” Aleph Geddis, co-owner of Bohéme said.
When the building became available, Geddis, who also co-owns Kismit on Orcas with his mother Rachel Henderson, called his friends Emily Drew Smith and Andrew Youngren and asked them to look at it.
Smith says, “I absolutely loved the space as soon as I walked in. I fell in love with the feeling of the building. I called Aleph back and said, ‘It’s wonderful. It’s such a cool space, I want to be in this space everyday. I want to run the store with you.’ I had never thought about running a store before that moment.”
The decision was made: a new business venture for Geddis and a new profession for Smith, who had first come to Orcas from Portland to be a farm intern in 2006.
“It was a wild and crazy ten days,” Smith said. They knew they needed to move fast to catch the end of the summer season. Geddis, who imports clothing and other items from Thailand and sells them at festivals and fairs throughout the summer, had the inventory available. With a small screwdriver, Smith began digging up the old carpet to expose the wood floors beneath, painted the interior and put in the fixtures to create a contemporary look.
“We went back to the old feeling of the building. There is this great old-and-new combination going on. The old building and the modern clothing lines,” Geddis said. Smith says they hope people will no longer identify the Victorian house as the “old Coldwell Banker building.”
The clothing concept is part of why they named the shop Bohéme (pronounced Bow’em), which is French for Bohemian. The Bohemian style of fashion, also known as hippy-chic, accents a free-spirited casual attitude. The lines are flowing and the look emphasizes layering and ornate jewelry. Details include fringing, patchwork, tassels, studding, flounces, ties, ribbons, ruffles and embroidery. The fabrics are often raw-edged, light-weight, homespun or natural fabrics that feature vivid colors or gypsy-like paisley or floral prints.
While they are still refining what the shop offers, based on customer input, they had a definite idea of what they wanted from the beginning. “I wanted the shop to carry more art and more from unusual independent US companies. I wanted the shop to be a fusion of my worlds of travel, the city and the island,” Geddis said.
“We offer fun, hip clothing that is affordable. We think we fill a niche that was not offered on the island before. We tend to attract a younger age group, but mothers and daughters come in and the mothers find things they like too,” Smith said.
Smith loves to help people put together outfits. “I am always honest … it is more important that people are happy with their purchase when they go home, than that we make an immediate sale,” she says. Bohéme carries mostly clothing for women but does have men’s t-shirts, hats and sunglasses available.
“We have had so many men come in and say, ‘Please carry men’s stuff.’ So, we hope to always have clothing available for men,” Smith says.
Smith brings a variety of experience to her new profession. She is still working as the wedding coordinator for The Kitchen and says that, as many islanders do, she’s pieced together a living from many different jobs including bookkeeping, landscaping, waitressing and baby-sitting.
In her spare time, Smith takes her dog Riley to the new dog park, watches movies, is “a sudoku addict” and likes to “head to the city when we can, and dance all night.”
The Grand Opening event for Bohéme, 376 Productions and the Orcas Island Chamber of Commerce, which all share the building, will be Saturday, Oct. 11 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 65 North Beach Road. Bohéme will be offering door prizes, refreshments and a big one-day sale. Bohéme is open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. They can be reached at 376-8444 or orcasBohéme@gmail.com.