Ocean Isle Beach boutique carries ‘Fashion Star’ contestant’s designs

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By Rachel Johnson, Staff Writer

OCEAN ISLE BEACH—An Ocean Isle Beach boutique is the only local store to carry NBC “Fashion Star” contestant Amber Perley’s fashions.

A year ago, the tulip tree Boutique owner Robin Putnam never dreamed she would own and operate a women’s and children’s boutique in Ocean Isle Beach, let alone to carry the designs of a designer making a national name for herself and her clothing.

“I found Amber online after I decided to open the shop,” Putnam said. “It was very spur-of-the-moment.”

Putnam found herself spending more and more time in Ocean Isle Beach after her two daughters went away to college.

“My two daughters spent the last 10 summers here. They had jobs at the creamery. It was just natural for me to spend time here,” Putnam said. “I was an empty-nester and needed something to do.”
Putnam has a background in fashion merchandising but had never owned her own store.

“I saw a need for something like this one,” she said. “The shop is geared toward younger women. I do try to have something for everyone.”

Putnam started to get the idea for the boutique in May and knew by mid-July it

was going to come to fruition. She opened the tulip tree Boutique in October.

“I’m loving it. I’m having a ball,” Putnam said.

One of the best parts about the boutique is that her daughters are also involved. They both plan to work in the boutique this summer, and her youngest daughter is working as the buyer for the children’s department.

In addition to women’s clothing ranging in size from XS to XL, the store carries boys’ clothing from infant to size 4T and girls’ clothing in infant to size 14.

Putnam says they didn’t originally plan to carry children’s clothing but the building lent itself to having a children’s area. Also, the tulip tree Boutique is presently the only children’s boutique in the area, she said.

When it comes to selecting merchandise, Putnam wants to set herself apart from other boutiques.

“I’m not carrying the same lines other people in the area are carrying,” she said. “I am trying to keep prices really reasonable and a good range of prices.”

Prior to opening, Putnam researched lines to carry online. She specifically sought out Southern designers. This research is what led her to Perley’s designs, Pearl Southern Couture. Putnam said Perley, who is from Texas, contacted her about a month ago to let her know she was going to be on NBC’s “Fashion Star.” With only two episodes already aired, Perley is emerging as a front-runner.

Perley’s designs won a $175,000 contract with Express during the premier episode. She also received a $60,000 Express contract for her design on the second episode.

Putnam said Perley can’t tell her how it all ends, but according to Putnam, things are looking good.

The boutique carries more than 18 women’s lines and 10 children’s lines, jewelry, handbags and more.

“New items arrive almost daily. I order very limited quantities of everything,” Putnam said.

From 5-8 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month, it’s Girls Night Out at the tulip tree Boutique. The boutique stays open late, and customers are treated to refreshments and special events.

Thursday, March 21, is a fundraiser for the Pretty in Pink Foundation. Attendees will receive 10 percent off their store purchase with a small toiletry donation, or the tulip tree Boutique will donate 10 percent of the purchase to the charity. There will also be a BeautiControl representative on hand raising funds for the American Cancer Society Brunswick County Relay for Life in memory of a friend who recently passed away from cancer.

Join the boutique’s mailing list at tuliptreeboutique@gmail.com or by calling 579-9070. The store is at 6778 Beach Drive SW, Ocean Isle Beach. The store is currently open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sundays. There are plans for extended hours in the summer.


Rachel Johnson is a staff writer at The Brunswick Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or rjohnson@brunswickbeacon.com.