After working in marketing for other businesses, Lepke opened her Moon Child Collective women’s boutique in February at 141 S. Main St., along Highway 35 in the south edge of downtown Stoddard.
Her store sells women’s clothing and accessories, as well as an exclusive line of hand-poured candles that she and Velvet Couch Candle Co. in Bangor developed.
“It’s gone well,” Lepke said of her store’s first several months.
Most of its customers live in the greater La Crosse area, she said. “But I also get quite a few from Iowa, too,” Lepke said. “And there were quite a few motorcyclists” who stopped while traveling on Highway 35 during the summer and fall.
Moon Child Collective and the nearby Gracie’s Hutch store at 134 S. Main St. will celebrate the start of the holiday shopping season with a Beaver Moon Market from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday at both locations. Besides selling their own merchandise, both retailers will have vendors featuring such things as jewelry, roasted coffee, signs and other handcrafted items.
“The full moon is that night and is referred to as the beaver moon,” Lepke said, explaining the event’s name.
Lepke was raised in Stoddard and now lives in La Crosse.
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She received a bachelor’s degree in retail merchandising and management from the University of Wisconsin-Stout in 2012.
“I have an extensive marketing background,” Lepke said. “I’ve worked for Organic Valley, Mathews Archery and some small marketing agencies.”
She comes from a long line of business owners.
For example, she said, “My dad (Jim Lepke) has his own auto transport company, and my mom and grandma (Jaynne Lepke and Janet Stearns) own Rocky’s Supper Club.”
With plenty of entrepreneurs on both sides of her family, Lepke said, “I knew it was inevitable that I would own my own business at some point.”
Lepke said one reason she decided to open a women’s boutique is “I’ve always had a huge interest in fashion and clothing. I always wore bold, funky looks and would over-accessorize.
“My dad has always worn cowboy boots, wild leather coats, bold jewelry and has his motorcycle covered in custom paint and fringe,” Lepke said. “I attribute my funky style to watching my dad wear what he thought was cool, and I mimic his outlook on style.”
Lepke has created what customer Rita Burckhardt of Viroqua described as “a very cute shop” during a trip to the boutique a week ago.
“We were just out for a drive last Sunday and noticed the open sign,” Burckhardt said. “We stopped and had a wonderful surprise. Today, we came back and got some more.” She purchased a pair of slippers on her first visit to the store, and bought two more pairs on her second visit.
Among other things, Lepke said, “I would think my shop is known for its great graphic tees (some with the Moon Child Collective logo), bell bottoms and kimonos.” Jewelry and candles also have been big sellers.
Moon Child Collective also sells some of its merchandise as a vendor at some area pop-up shop events. Lepke said she will post updates about those events on her store’s Facebook and Instagram pages.
Lepke also expects to begin offering online purchasing on her store’s website this winter.