Boutique brings style to campus

Photos Courtesy of Abby Wendt | Abby Wendt runs her new boutique named European Summer Boutique and had her first pop-up shop on campus last Wednesday which was a hit. She was able to sell out of some items.

Isabella Abbot | Features Editor

In college, many students are involved in a variety of clubs, sports, activities and even part-time jobs, making it difficult to find time for anything else. But not many can say they found time to own a small business, European Summer Boutique, like owner and Duquesne student Abby Wendt.

“So definitely it’s hard to balance school and this, but I see it as more fun,” Wendt said. “This is a hobby more than anything else.”

According to a survey by Intelligent, out of 1,000 college students ages 18-24, 17% of 2022 grads currently operate their own businesses, a trend that’s risen in the past couple of years. Wendt found her inspiration from an excursion abroad she took as a Duquesne student.

While studying in Rome last year, she was inspired by a “European summer” clothing trend and decided to form her boutique’s style around that.

She typically buys wholesale and sells neutral-colored linen shirts, sweaters, bathing suits, floral dresses and pants that create a relaxed beach vibe.

“While I was there on TikTok, the European summer aesthetic was trending so that’s where I found my target market and what items I wanted to sell,” Wendt said. “I sold a lot of dresses and flowy skirts over the summer, and now I’m trying to move into fall with sweaters.”

Though starting a small business is challenging, especially as a student, Wendt, fortunately, helped run another small business selling tye-dye and vinyl prints while she was in high school that helped in starting the process and inspiration of her new one. She’s sold over 300 items so far.

“We won an entrepreneurship competition so that helped us get started, and then we both went away to school. But that definitely made me want to start another small business,” she said.

She also gets help from her sorority, Alpha Sigma Tau, who all promote her items, participate in photoshoots, and assist in organizing her campus pop-ups.

Member of AST and ambassador for European Summer Boutique Katie Casciato said she adores Wendt’s business.

“I’m very proud of her,” Casciato said. “Between everything we have to do for our sorority and classes and being far away from home she absolutely kills it every time.”

Casciato is also a repeat customer at the boutique because of Wendt’s customer service and quality of clothing.

“I think the biggest thing is that she’s always genuine with what she’s doing,” Casciato said. “There was a dress that I got that didn’t ship, and she immediately refunded it. She’s always on top of it, always on the customer’s side.”

Her favorite clothing items from Wendt’s boutique are her bathing suits.

“The material is really nice, and she sells them as sets, so I think it’s a really good price,” Casciato said. “I’ve worn her bathing suits all summer and had no issues with them at all, so I really love the quality of the clothing.”

Another one of her frequent buyers, Kelsey Molitoris, said she loves helping her friend’s small business.

Molitoris believes in supporting local businesses, especially one run by a fellow college student and friend.

“And as a college student, I feel like that’s really cool to see what she’s doing, and you want to support one another in that way,” Molitoris said.

Many of her sales are through word-of-mouth marketing and people noticing her clothes in public, like on campus or at local concerts.

“Abby and I went to Morgan Wallen, and I wore one of her tops to the concert,” Casciato said. “A bunch of people were asking where I bought it from, and we kept showing them her Instagram (@shopeuropeansummer) where they can buy everything.”

She even had her first successful pop-up shop on campus last Wednesday, where she launched jewelry items in her boutique. Some items she sold included gold necklaces, corset tops, sweaters, hoop earrings and more. Some of Wendt’s sales from the pop-up went to Alpha Sigma Tau’s philanthropy, Make A Wish.

Other than using Instagram for sales, Wendt has been utilizing TikTok’s new feature, TikTok Shop, where creators can showcase and sell all types of items, including water bottles, clothes, artwork and more. She said she enjoys being creative on her selling platforms.

“I can kind of do whatever I want with it, and it’s really fun to get my friends involved,” Wendt said.

Her friends come to model, and they all love the quality and style she sells.

“I love all the clothes, I genuinely do,” Casciato said. “It’s not something that I’m posting because I’m a part of it, I really do love the quality and the designs that she does.”

Wendt’s advice for any college student wanting to start a small business of their own is to just do it.

“I would definitely recommend, if they have an idea, to kind of run with it,” Wendt said. “It changes obviously as you go, but it’s still really fun, and everyone shops.”