It's New to Us By Jean Stratton

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ROUGE = RED: "Red is an exciting color, and Rouge is for red. It reflects the energy and vitality of our store. We have a very exciting collection,and we always emphasize customer service." Paige Peterson, owner, and Michelle De Haven, manager of Rouge, are shown in front of a display of bodycare products and the popular Jack Rogers sandals.
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Marvelous Mix of Merchandise Is Available at Rouge Boutique

Sandals and soap, cosmetics and candles, lingerie and lipstick, perfume and powder, thongs and travel bags, skin care to swimwear ... and active wear ... and yoga garb – and so much more! It's all at Rouge, the popular boutique on Witherspoon Street, where a dynamic blend of dazzle, glamour, and luxury will guarantee a super shopping spree.

"It's a real mix of merchandise. It's the best of the best – a great eclectic assortment. There is really nothing to compare us to," says store manager Michelle De Haven, who has been with Rouge since last September.

"We carry clothing, high-end lingerie, swimwear, active wear, yoga clothing, cosmetics, skin care products, soaps, lotions, and perfumes," adds owner Paige Peterson, who opened Rouge two years ago.

This is Ms. Peterson's first venture into retail, and it has been a success from the start. She has struck a chord with her clientele, who come from all over the area, and well beyond, including Baltimore.

"We've been fortunate to have a lot of national press, with articles in "Lucky" magazine and others," she notes. "When I decided to open the shop, I liked the idea of the flexibility of having my own business. I always loved make-up, clothes, and beauty. I had been a big shopper, and I was aware of what was out there, but it has certainly been on-the-job training. When we opened, I didn't know what to expect. It has been great."

Initially, the focus was on make-up, skin care, and some active wear, she reports. "Now, we have really expanded our merchandise. There was a demand for clothing, and I saw a need for a different kind of clothing. I wanted it to be now, in the moment. We carry lines such as Calypso, Rosa Cha swimwear, Sanctuary, Cosabella lingerie, and we are about to welcome Wolford lingerie to our selection. It's exquisite basic lingerie."

Great Assortment

Also, she adds, "When I buy, I buy only one or two pieces, so there's not a lot of duplication. You don't see yourself everywhere you go. We have such a great assortment – wonderful tunic shirts for over swimwear or with jeans, fun yoga pants and shorts in a variety of colors and with a real style.

"We have a beautiful lace dress from dr. Boudoir," continues Ms. Peterson. "It's all hand-done lace and beautiful for a special event. And we have a plush terry robe that is pure luxury – you just sink into it."

Feet are not forgotten at Rouge. Two special lines of footwear include the well-known Jack Rogers sandals and the delicious Tamara Henriques colorful rain boots. You will never need to worry about a puddle again!

"Jack Rogers sandals are very popular for us," reports Ms. Peterson. "They have a history. They began in the 1960s, and Jackie Onassis was a big fan of them. There are 30 different colors, and people get them to match any outfit.

"We also carry the wonderful Tamara Henriques Wellie rain boots. They are hand-rolled rubber in super designs and colors."

The Rouge customer, who is anyone from a teen or college student to career professional to mom, grandmother, and even great-grandmother, is also intrigued by the myriad of lotions, potions, and make-up magic in the shop. An enticing array of blushes, bronzers, shadows, shapers, liners, glosses, and body butters are displayed for sampling.

Piece de Resistance

Face and body products, soaps and perfumes, and aromatherapy choices are among the most popular items at Rouge, and Ms. Peterson has included a number of very special lines. The piece de resistance is the selection of Santa Maria Novella skin care products, so prized by celebrities the world over.

Rouge is only one of 75 stores in the U.S. to carry it, reports Ms. Peterson. "This is a very luxurious line of skin care that was originally developed by monks in Italy the 1200s. It is a very important line."

In addition to lotions, soaps, shampoos, and creams, it offers perfume, and in fact, the "Water of the Queen" fragrance was created by the monks for Catherine de Medici, who as Queen of France made the perfume famous in her adopted country. Later, a Cologne-based businessman began to produce it, and changed its name to Eau de Cologne in honor of the city where he lived.

"It has had the same packaging for 600 years," says Ms. De Haven. "It's an emotional product. The fragrance is so pure. The scent evokes emotions from the past – you can remember your mother or grandmother wearing that scent."

Other important make-up and skincare products are Philosophy, Dr. Hauschka, and Paula Dorf, and Ms. Peterson points out that the store's line of skin care products are for all skin conditions, from teen problems to the challenges facing mature skin.

"We have a make-up artist for lessons and applications, and everyone here is well-trained to help customers," says Ms. Peterson. "We are all about enhancing natural beauty here. With make-up, less is more, and we help to bring out the customer's individual style. We also do bridal make-up for the bridal party."

She also points out that the store's soaps and lotions can make an excellent year-end gift for a teacher.

For summer, self-tanners and make-up with SPF 15 are available, she adds.

Also, there is always a selection of high quality make-up brushes. "If taken care of, they should last a life-time," says Ms. Peterson. "We recommend washing them once a week."

Make-up bags and travel bags are in stock, as is the quality Red Flower candle and body care line, as well as Votivo candles.

The store also carries men's skin care products, including after shave, cologne, and lotions. The popular Jack Black line offers a variety of conditioning and moisturizing choices for men.

Rouge is known for quality luxury products, but there is a range of prices, with soaps beginning at $5.95, panties from $16, and T-shirts from $20. There is always a sale of selected products.

"Luxury is not always about price," points out Ms. De Haven.

Gift certificates, gift wrapping, and shipping are also available.

"I love what I'm doing," says Ms. Peterson, with a smile. "I love finding new products, and I love it when a person is excited about their purchase. I love our customers, including all the nice husbands who see something in the window and come in and get it for their wife.

"Michelle and I both love people, and we have lots of regular customers. We have been called the most expensive cup of coffee in town because people will stop at Small World for coffee and then come here to see what's new and buy something!

"We feel we are a real part of the community," she continues. "Everyone has welcomed us, including the other merchants. I think we are set apart by our service and love of customers. We are very proud of our staff, and we have very high standards.

"We want to continue our same focus and always have a welcoming atmosphere for people. We are about to launch a website, and in addition, we are hoping to expand our quarters.

"This Thursday through Sunday, we will have an anniversary party including refreshments and special discounts. We look forward to everyone coming."

Rouge is open Monday through Saturday 9 to 7, Thursday until 9, Sunday 11 to 6. 921-0280.

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