The truth about some of us business owners is that we have formed tight networks with other shop owners. I've got a few shop owner gal pals (like Katie Freedle at Backtalk, Amelia Blakeman at Amelia, and Sarah Bibb at Folly) that I look to for support and advice.

One of my “BSOFs” (best shop owner friends) has always been Nicole Prevost at Union Rose. Nicole's one of the first in our league of retailers who support local manufacturing from Portland. Union Rose is a beautiful boutique focused on clothing and accessories that reflect the Portland fashion ethos: flattering and versatile silhouettes that can be worn in a professional setting, then spruced up for a night on the town.

Nicole Prevost with Big Brown Eyes Apparel
  • Joel Preston Smith
  • Nicole Prevost with Big Brown Eyes Apparel

When you shop at Union Rose, you'll get the personal touch of learning about the designer, the production process, and probably get the opportunity to meet the designers themselves, as the shop is always teeming with all-stars like Alyson Clair, Carolyn Hart, Hubris, and more! Union Rose is also the production site of Nicole's house line, Big Brown Eyes.
I asked Nicole to tell us about what's in store for Union Rose this year. She's always busy with big events, sales, and new collections on the horizon:

How many years has Union Rose been in business?
Prevost: So happy to say 6.5 years now, with 4+ of them in my home neighborhood of Montavilla.

What do you like about the Montavilla district as a shopping destination?
Prevost: There are just enough things to do to make a day of it. That's what I hear from people. Because we've got the boundaries of Mount Tabor to the west and 82nd Avenue to the east (though there are good things on 82nd, too), shops and restaurants that move in here have to be pretty stellar to last. We've got great restaurants and shops, and the Academy Theater is such a great place to catch a flick.

Carolyn Hart Designs, featured with Seaworthy necklaces
  • Joel Preston Smith
  • Carolyn Hart Designs, featured with Seaworthy necklaces

You never seem to stray from locally based designers; why are you so committed to Portland-based design?
Prevost: There's such strength in it! It's been rare that I haven't been able to source a product here in Portland. And of course, it'll be unique and have a great edge. I usually feature around 40 artists and designers in the shop. People are always amazed at the variety of things that are produced locally, and produced at such high quality.
I also know that supporting local artists, and furthering that to support local shops will be what drives our economy back from the brink. With so much great design here in Portland, it can be pretty easy to keep your dollars here.

Are there any collections you're really loving this season any designer(s) in particular?

Prevost: The thing that's most exciting is that we're expanding into Plus sizing! I've always done my best to have offerings for women of all sizes, clothes that fit and flatter and make them feel their best. We've always carried XS and XL. But curvy girls want to be stylin, too! This past fall, Hubris branched out into the Plus Size range, and this spring we'll get extended sizes from Mag-Big and Clair, as well. I couldn't be more pleased, because women are telling me how hard it's been to even find extended sizes, much less anything that actually looked good.

Appetite Pendleton bag and leather zip clutch
  • Joel Preston Smith
  • Appetite Pendleton bag and leather zip clutch

What's in store for Big Brown Eyes this year?
Prevost: My little old clothing line? Thanks for asking! Last year, for the first time, I produced enough that I was able to sell Big Brown Eyes not just in my shop, but across town at Amelia on Alberta. While having BBE in another store or two may be on the horizon, this year I'm really focusing on having the most cohesive line I've ever done, and producing more of it. I know mine isn't the most efficient system - these two hands are sewing all the garments, in between helping the shop's customers, no less - but I love it! It makes me so proud of what I make, that when people come out of the dressing room and they LOVE something of mine I can say, with confidence, that they'll be able to love and wear it a long, long time.

Do you have any exciting events coming up that you want us to know about?
Prevost: Still planning things for the year, lining up trunk shows and more art than ever...But our first big event of the year will be our 4th Annual Spring Cleaning Sale. Always SUPER popular, and a great time to score a new wardrobe! This year it's March 7th.

If you could have a super power, what would it be?
Prevost: The ability to blink and have all my basting stitches disappear? (Sorry, I've been sewing a lot of zippers lately.) I think the one I'd desire most would be the ability to read minds. Not knowing what others are thinking sorta drives me nuts on a daily basis.