New boutique in downtown Lawrence gets creative with both jewelry, furniture

photo by: Chad Lawhorn/Journal-World

Sisters Heather Slepicka, left, and Tiffany Wegele, right, are the owners of Village Boutique at 734 Massachusetts in downtown Lawrence.

My idea of furniture and jewelry coming together is finding an earring in the couch cushions. However, my banker and I also know of someone whose ideas trend more toward a new gemstone — or maybe a string of them — to complement the couch’s upholstery.

Whatever your idea is, there is a new store in downtown Lawrence that indeed combines furniture and jewelry.

The Village Boutique opened earlier this month at 734 Massachusetts St. in the spot that used to house Ad Astra Running, which has moved to 835 Massachusetts St. The shop’s inventory includes heavy doses of both furniture and jewelry.

If you are wondering what the connecting link is on those two items, the answer is a birth certificate. Actually, two of them. Village Boutique owners Tiffany Wegele and Heather Slepicka are sisters.

Slepicka recently decided she wanted to move back to Lawrence — a place she hadn’t lived since the 1990s — after spending years in the custom jewelry-making business in Colorado. Wegele already was in the state after her husband’s work had brought them to the Topeka area.

It so happened that Wegele’s garage was full of furniture creations because finding furniture and giving it new life has been Wegele’s hobby since she was a young girl. She had been doing such work for another area shop owner, but she figured why not start doing it for her own store?

Her sister was thinking the same thing. In 2006, Slepicka attended the Gemological Institute of America in Carlsbad, Calif., and has been in the jewelry industry ever since. She worked for small shops owned by others, and eventually figured, why not start doing it for her own store? (I’m guessing this is what the Reese’s sisters felt like when one got their chocolate in the other’s peanut butter, or maybe it was vice versa.)

photo by: Chad Lawhorn/Journal-World

Various jewelry is displayed at Village Boutique in downtown Lawrence on Nov. 29, 2023.

As far as the concept of combining furniture and jewelry in one shop, which isn’t the most typical boutique pairing, Slepicka and Wegele say there’s a solid strategy behind it.

“Those are the two main things both of us do really well,” Slepicka said. “And now we are trying to get some other stuff mixed in.”

The shop already has some scarves and clothing accessories, and expects to have a clothing line in the future. It also has smaller home decor items, and a fair amount of photography from a photographer in the Kansas City area. That’s one of the key ways the duo expects to add to the store’s inventory and breadth of items.

“We like to work with and support local artists,” Slepicka said.

The sisters also like working with customers who may want a custom creation. Slepicka is equipped to make custom pieces of jewelry, and did that a lot in her previous jobs.

“I’ve never worked in the big box stores,” Slepicka said of her career. “I’ve always worked in small shops with big clientele.”

photo by: Chad Lawhorn/Journal-World

Jeweler Heather Slepicka holds a piece from the Village Boutique’s collection of artistic jewelry pieces.

On the furniture side, Wegele isn’t building furniture from scratch, but does see a lot of available furniture through a variety of connections. If customers tell her what they’re looking for, she thinks there is a good chance she can find it.

She also can take furniture pieces and turn them into something new. That might mean painting new details on a piece, refinishing wood or getting more aggressive with changes.

“Cutting, catching it on fire — on purpose,” she adds. Wegele explained that burning the wood can cause the grain of the wood to become exposed in new ways. Plus, she said her boys really like helping with that part of a project.

But some of Wegele’s furniture work also involves a complete repurposing of items. An example she gave is taking a hutch and modifying it to become a seating area.

“It usually looks quite different,” she said of her repurposing projects. “I like to put my own twist on it. I like to create.”

With that type of creativity, the sisters think they have a good chance to do well in downtown Lawrence, which they said was always their top spot for where to open their shop. They are betting that Lawrence is a locale that values creativity.

“We really think the experience will be fun because there is so much to look at,” Wegele said.

“And, a lot of times if we don’t have something, we can get something or we can make something,” Slepicka said. “It is not just what is here. We can work with them to create something new.”

photo by: Chad Lawhorn/Journal-World

The Village Boutique, located at 734 Massachusetts Street, is pictured on Nov. 29, 2023.


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