By Louisa Cohen
Tucked just to the west of Granville on 13th Ave., under the shade of a leafy tree, you’ll find Oliver & Lilly’s, a sweet little boutique owned by husband and wife team Leighann Boquist & Darren Bold. It is truly the perfect place to pick up a fresh tee, party dress, a this or a that, a bikini, scarf, or even a hat.
Just last week I popped in to shop and chat with Leighann. With a welcoming and sweet nature, and an honest opinion, Leighann makes a lovely host and creates a perfect space to pick up your classics or try something new.
SDTC: Who is Oliver & Lilly? Are they real? I imagine them being little fictional Hansel and Gretel types leading us to a house of sweets, well, at least in terms of clothing accessories!
LB: YES YES YES! I too, imagine them to be little Hansel & Gretel types. I always wonder if they have a secret village in the backroom that comes alive after the store closes. I bet they do!
(Back to reality) Oliver & Lilly were just two names I came up with in 2002 for a school project. So when I started the business planning in 2007 the names just came back to me and well, here we are…. Oliver & Lilly’s it is!
SDTC: You run the business with your husband, what’s that like? Who does what?
LB: Truly, it’s a hoot! Darren takes care of all the numbers and keeps us on budget, and I cover all the buying and relations. Not that either of us couldn’t tackle both, it’s just nice to divide the responsibilities. Well, maybe that’s not true… ‘cuz if he was to cover all the buying, the store would be full of Hawaiian shirts and I would inevitably go over budget.
SDTC: What’s your method in choosing pieces for the store? Your mission statement if you will.
LB: I just really fill the shop with pieces I would want to wear everyday. I’m a jeans, cardigan and t-shirt girl who needs a dress now and again too. So, I’ll mix the store up with that in mind. Most importantly the clothing has to be livable, functional and not off the price charts.
SDTC: Did you always work in fashion? Can you tell me a bit about your background and how the store came to be?
LB: I’ve worked in retail for many moons now and my post secondary education is in fashion, too. For the past 8 years, primarily my work has been in the visual end of fashion.
And in 2007 I was fortunate enough to be a part of many lay offs that my previous employer was issuing, which gave me time to figure out what my next career step was. I always wanted a store and with time on my side that year, I took the leap and started creating the plan for Oliver & Lilly’s and on August 8th, 2008 we opened our doors!
SDTC: What do you enjoy most about being a part of the South Granville retail community?
LB: Getting to know all the other small business owners has been the highlight for sure.
SDTC: Any pet peeves about it?
LB: Price per square foot.
SDTC: What brands do you carry?
LB: We carry Steven Alan, Ali Ro, Demy lee, Alternative, Eze Sur Mer, Heidi Merrick, Something Else, James, Alex & Ani, Nicole Ginsberg Jewels and Cuche Swimwear.
SDTC: What’s your ideal summer outfit (Day and Night)?
LB: For day: a bathing suit, cut offs, fedora and flip flops. For night: a flowy boho dress, cardigan and cowboy boots
SDTC: Can you name some of your favorite places to go, shop, eat, hang out at in Vancouver, when you are not in the store?
LB: Ooooh! I love eating at Salt Tasting Room in Gastown, and Rangoli on South Granville is just yum! Also, hanging out at the farmers market on a Sunday is pure bliss for me! I like to pretend I’m a good cook and pick up all the fresh ingredients to create a meal with.
Leighann really is that awesome girl in the neighborhood; the one that is sweet and friendly, knows all the hip spots, and can put herself together with an understated cool. Join Oliver&Lilly’s for a little party, “The Art of Spring Dressing” on Thursday, May 6 from 6:30 – 9:30 pm. Drinks, treats, and pretty things.