Katie Huber has always been passionate about fashion, and dreamed about one day owning her own business. She decided to combine these two pursuits and launch ‘Rusty Lily’ an online women’s clothing boutique that caters to the fashionista in young and old alike.
“I have always loved the idea of being a business owner and creating something that feels like a piece of me, and I am so happy I took the leap into the business journey that is Rusty Lily,” said Huber.
Huber juggles the ordering, stocking, selling and shipping of her curated clothing collection with her ‘regular job’ as a chair-side assistant at a local dental clinic. She was also taking courses through Vancouver Community College to become a Certified Dental Assistant, and although this educational pursuit is currently on hold, there is no doubt that Huber is an ambitious young woman who isn’t afraid to take on new things; even when she admits she isn’t sure where to start, which was the case with Rusty Lily.
“When the boutique was just an idea, I had minimal knowledge in web design, marketing, and retail so a lot of research was done, and I took the opportunity to consult with professionals any chance I could for guidance,” said Huber.
“I was pleasantly surprised at how supportive everyone was in the small business community! I was a little afraid I wouldn’t be taken seriously due to my lack of experience but, thankfully, the whole process was very educational and positive.”
Now that the online boutique is up and running, Huber enjoys the creative aspects.
“The boutique is my creative outlet; I have always loved the idea of emulating how you feel through fashion,” explained Huber.
“It’s been so much fun exploring what my own style is, and I believe that is reflected through Rusty Lily. My hope is that Rusty Lily can allow women to express themselves through fashion and be creative with their own unique style too. I get so giddy when I see the clothes from Rusty Lily being worn by people in the community, it almost seems too good to be true.”
Huber’s goal is to offer an inclusive shopping experience for women of all ages, and has had orders placed by everyone from teens to seniors. She hopes in the future to expand beyond the standard sizing and offer clothing that makes everyone feel beautiful and stylish.
“It’s quite disappointing to not be able to offer a more diverse range of sizes, but it’s definitely something I have been researching, in hopes to find more inclusive wholesalers,” said Huber.
Huber, who grew up on her parent’s ranch at Quilchena and moved into Merritt with her boyfriend in Nov. 2019, has no plans to move her business out of the valley anytime soon.
“When I am not working, completing school assignments or marketing for Rusty Lily, my time is spent driving the familiar valley roads, fishing, camping, watching the cooking channel or working on home renovations with my guy and our two dogs,” said Huber.
“Family is extremely important to me and, while I am biased, I feel like I won the lottery with mine. They are one of the many reasons I am happily rooted in the beautiful Nicola Valley! I cannot go without mentioning how beyond grateful I am for my family and friends who show nothing but support and encourage me. Rusty Lily would not be possible without them. They fan the flame when I can feel it beginning to fizzle, and have given up their personal time to help me with photoshoots, pop-up shops, or proofing marketing content. I could go on forever about how much I love and appreciate them.”
Although COVID has made it difficult to have face-to-face interactions, Huber hopes to host more pop-up shops when the pandemic is in the rear-view mirror.
“I really look forward to hosting more pop-ups in the future, as long as it is safe to do so, as I really enjoy being able to meet my customers and allow them to see the pieces in person,” said Huber.
In the meantime, customers can browse the wide variety of tops, bottoms, dresses, accessories and more on the Rusty Lily website, or check out Rusty Lily’s Instagram at rusty.lily and the boutique’s Facebook page.
Morgan Hampton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Merritt Herald