New Paltz native Alyssa Boss says she often thought, over the years, that if she were ever to have her own clothing and accessories boutique, the location she’d want for that business would be the storefront at 73 Main Street in the Village of New Paltz. “It’s the perfect place for so many reasons,” notes Boss, whose background in fashion includes a stint working in sales and management for major retailer BCBG. But that coveted location wasn’t likely to open up: Julie Mazur’s Rambling Rose boutique had been firmly established there since 1993, and the long-lived business showed every sign of carrying on indefinitely.
Never say never, though, because one day last year, after moving back to New Paltz from the city, Boss happened to be driving past Rambling Rose when she saw a small sign in its window stating that Mazur was closing up her business and the space would soon be available.
Boss jumped at the opportunity, and managed to open Indigo and Velvet at 73 Main Street on “Small Business Saturday” in late November, albeit at 5:30 p.m. The boutique offers women’s clothing, vegan leather handbags, fair-trade brass jewelry and naturally derived body and home products.
Her intention is to offer affordable items that her customers will truly love, Boss says, rather than things that will languish in the back of a closet once the initial shopping enthusiasm has worn off. “I definitely try to find products that you can use in more than one way. And I want everyone to feel really good about what they’re purchasing, so they hang onto it and really use it.”
The vegan leather handbags, for example, sourced from Los Angeles-based Ampere Creations, are as long-lasting and useful as they are upscale and fashionable. “There’s a huge misconception that vegan leather always looks cheap,” Boss notes, proving otherwise with a stylish vegan leather tote bag. “It’s beautiful and it’s functional,” she adds, pointing out that the tote comes with a washable, removable organizer pouch inside. “It’s also so lightweight you can really pack it full. You’ll want to use this bag all the time rather than it just sitting around.”
The aesthetic of the clothing at Indigo and Velvet can be described as “Boho rocker chic,” says Boss, the selection influenced by what she herself wears. And the coordinated color palette that will change seasonally allows her clientele to mix and match items with what they currently own. “I’ve been having a lot of fun picking out things that allow people to build on the wardrobe they already own. Everybody has multiple fashion inspirations, and I want people to feel they can dress as their authentic selves. I really want them to come in and try things on, make sure they feel excited about wearing it, and if they don’t, then don’t buy it.”
The evocative name of the business gives a nod to the history of fabrics, to the use of indigo as a dyestuff for centuries and the associations of velvet with royalty. In today’s world, indigo is often associated with denim, so Indigo and Velvet also suggests the contemporary way of combining the everyday with something special to create one’s own unique style.
The jewelry line carried is from Boho Gal, a woman-owned business from Atlanta that partners with women in India to provide them work, says Boss. The pieces are lightweight, easy to wear, and speak to global cultural influences.
The natural body and skincare products carried in the shop include a line from the Gardiner-based Captain Blankenship and Nashville’s Nash & Jones, both of which eschew toxic ingredients in favor of plant-based botanicals.
The shop decor retains the brick wall that Rambling Rose clientele will remember, but the mood has turned exotic, with Moroccan-style stenciled floors in gold over blue and indigo blue velvet chairs by the dressing rooms, which are outfitted with luxurious silk dupioni curtains. Peacock feathers are arranged in a vase in the corner and the walls are accented by vintage Vogue magazine prints. Star-shaped lighting adds to the ambiance, as do the fixtures lent to Boss by a friend.
Her parents have helped her a lot in getting the store up and running, she says, and she’s been pleasantly surprised to find the other merchants in town so welcoming. “They’ve totally taken me in, which has been really exciting. I love that we have our little ‘hub’ and hang out and check in on each other; it’s really fun. I feel a lot of support coming from a lot of different people.”
The downstairs portion of the store, where the former occupant had an on-site tailor available, is not yet open but will eventually be home to a full-time makeup artist. At this time, appointments will be taken for that service but Boss plans to eventually have someone there whenever the shop is open.
She plans to hire staff, too, as the business grows, but for now it’s just her. “I like being here, talking to the people, and I like styling them,” Boss says. “I really think fashion is an art. A lot of times people can feel really stifled in their lives but express themselves through fashion. I also think that, in turn, when somebody feels really good about themselves and that they’re representing their insides on the outside, they do amazing things, not only for themselves but for other people. So I want people to feel good; to feel like, ‘I’ve got this!’”
That can only happen, she adds, through talking to people. “I could say ‘put this on’ but not knowing anything about you, or your life. And if you just throw something on, I think I didn’t do my job. It’s about asking those questions, which I think a lot of places don’t have training for. I’m fortunate enough to be able to have that, so I just want to… spread the joy!”
Indigo and Velvet is open Thursday through Monday and by appointment only on Wednesdays. The shop is closed on Tuesdays. Consult the website for current hours.