Thursday, December 22, 2011

Shop Spotlight v7 + A Giveaway: Aimee

Aimee 7 years
Amy with customers
amy in front of store
the fashionable friend gift list

the modern day lady gift list

the country cool girl gift list

1. Tell us about your business?

Aimee is a true boutique experience that offers a range of high-end clothing and accessories. Weekly arrivals of some of the most beautiful and distinct, ultra-stylish and feminine pieces keep this darling little dress shop filled with lots of items for everyone. We offer many quaint European lines that are found in some of the most exclusive shops around the world. Each line has a very distinct style in all pieces that are selected for the store. With up to 20 brands carried in the store at one time, we maintain a certain aesthetic in all pieces that are selected for each season’s assortment. Over the last 7 years, aimée has evolved into a comfortable social haven for women (and men) who take a little time out of their hectic day to stop by and enjoy some wine and good conversation!

2. How did you start your business and when?

I stumbled upon the vacant building while my husband and I were taking a walk through the East Village, I looked through the window and was able to picture the perfect boutique exactly how I had always pictured it. For me, the space was the reason I started my business, it inspired me to do what I had always dreamed of doing. We just celebrated the 7 year birthday of aimee on the first day of December! It is a true blessing to be able to say that!

3. Where are you located? What made you choose the location you are at?

We are located at 432 E. Locust St., right in the heart of East Village. Locust & 5th St.

4. Why do you think customers should shop locally?

Customers who are looking for something unique and driven by quality -- small businesses always stand behind their products and truly believe in what they are selling! By supporting the local small businesses; we as a community can create jobs, retain more of the wealth in our community and stably grow our economy.

5. Does your business provide any special services to customers?

Just this month we started doing Closet Styling! Many women have closets full of beautiful pieces, but don’t always know how to put them together and create an essential look. That’s where we would be delighted to help! It’s what we love to do and what we do everyday at the store. You can read more about it on our website at In addition, we do have some other fun services that will be available next year.

6. What do you think sets you apart from other similar businesses?

It is of most importance that I truly love the article of clothing on each individual lady, otherwise she doesn't take it home with her. I am soley here to make sure each person who comes into my store, goes out my door with a truly amazing piece that looks fabulous on her! I don't sell a garment to has to be for the right person. You won't be told, "That's soo cute!" When it clearly is not! Another major thing that sets us apart is that we only purchase 1 of each size of every style that arrives in the store, therefore, the ladies who shop here will know that they will not show up wearing the same thing as someone else.

7. What do you think the benefits are from having a brick and mortar shop opposed to selling online?

As mentioned above, the number one thing about this store is exclusivity and the specialness of each piece and ultimately the personal experience that you receive when you come into the store. With online shopping you just don't get that same benefit! We, however, are not opposed to doing online ordering - we post all our new product on Facebook at as it comes in and people call us to order over the phone and then we ship them out their order.

8. What is your ideal go-to winter outfit?

A turtleneck layered under a dress with a pair of tights and boots! Layers!

9. Tell me about some of your favorite pieces of clothing that you have picked for your boutique?

ALL of them!! I am very passionate about every piece that I bring into the store, however, I guess I would have to say that some of the pieces that just debuted from a new line we are carrying out of London....those might just be my current faves, with a few others popped in!

Amy's Most Loved Styles

10. Is there anything else you'd like to say?

THANK YOU to Shop Local for highlighting us on your blog! We love it and will continue to read! XO

Now, for our first giveaway EVER on this blog, giveaway winner will be announced on our facebook page, in this post, and contacted through e-mail. Don't forget to click the "DO THIS" button after every entry to make sure your entry counts!


Enter below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, December 19, 2011

gifts under $50


1. A limited edition screen printed tee from Acanthus Apparel - $24
2. A beautiful hand crafted spoon bracelet by Dank Artistry for - $30

1. Shear Earrings - available in silver or gold - $14.50 (also comes in a necklace - $18.50)
2. Peacock Ring - his stretchy ring is a statement - perfect for the jewelry enthusiast in your life - $12.50
3. Faux fur vest with pom poms - this is a great piece to layer with - $46
4. Fingerless gloves - available in black, brown, and cream - also has a flap - $22.50
5. Ruffle scarf - spice up any basic - $32.50

1. Miscellaneous vintage clip earrings - perfect holiday accessory on ears, hair or shoes - $3 to $10
2. Miscellaneous vintage brooches - great on a scarf or jacket for holiday sparkle - $5 to $30
3. Set of holiday colored 1960s pop beads - $25
4. Vintage necklaces - great for layering - $5 to $50
5. Girlie vintage lingerie as a gift to give or wear - $15 to $50
6. Holiday aprons for hostessing a party or gifting a retro foodie - $5 to $15
7. Beaded vintage evening bags - $10 to $50

1. The Long Dangle Rhinestone Earrings - $20
2. 3D Nylon Pendent Necklace with Sterling Chain - $50.

1. Arm Warmers - $25
2. Plaid Gloves - $20
3. Black Bow Belt - $25
4. Lace Leggings - $25
5. Tallulah Lip Gloss - $18
6. Necklaces - $18
7. Rings - $20
8. Winter Print Leggings - $25
9. Bean & the Sprout Headbands - $30
10. Boot Warmers / Slippers - $30
11. Earrings - All Under $50
12. Fur Leg Warmers - $35
13. Smart Tips Gloves - hottest item - touchscreen compatible gloves - $30
14. Knit Hats - $38
15. Over the Knee Socks- available in other colors - $22 to $50
16. Rosegold Hoop Earrings - $28
17. Black Velvet Leggings - $30

1. Over sized Red Poppy Headband - $25
2. Upcycled Metallic Silver and Rhinestone Clutch Handbag - $48

1. Rock N Recontruct Hawkeye Tunic top - made in any college team for your size - under $50

1. Three stretch rhinestone bracelets - su-008 - $18
2. Purple bauble and rhinestone necklace - fl-691 - $25
3. Silver chain earrings w/ square stone - ad-016 - $32
4. Gold mesh clutch - lr-078 - $44
5. Silver and glass wrap necklace - sl-018 - $30


Happy Holidays, and hope this post helps you a little bit with last minute Holiday Shopping! You can click on any photo above to go to each shop's website, facebook, or etsy page!

Shop Local DSM 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Shop Spotlight v6: Hill Vintage






Tell us about your business?

Hill Vintage sells vintage women's, men's, and a limited amount of children's clothing---as well as housewares and accessories. Our motto is "clothing the beautiful and broke one person at at a time" and this is really something that is important to our business. We love being able to pair vintage clothing with modern fashion and we want to pass that on to our customers.

How did you start your business and when?

Hill Vintage started over a year ago out of friendship and a common love of vintage clothing. Oh yeah and the need to de-hoard our own closets.

Why do you think customers should shop local?

There are so many reasons why shopping locally is important. Specifically for Hill Vintage we are in the business of recycling clothing and cutting down on waste so it only makes sense to keep it within the community and support those around you. We also follow the notion that shopping locally helps to stimulate the local economy making Des Moines a better place to live and boy do we ever love this place. Also we love love love seeing Hill Vintage out and about on the streets of this fair city.

Does your business provide any special services to customers? (i.e. alterations, lending for events, rentals, etc.)

During the winter when Hill Vintage operates from our Etsy store we offer free delivery to those we live in the Des Moines metro area. We also assist our customers in how to modernize their vintage.

What do you think sets you apart from other similar businesses?

Each business has an individual style and it shows in our collections. Our own personal styles are represented in the clothing that we sell at Hill Vintage and our minds are open and our imaginations vast. We buy what we like and what we envision to be a fashion forward outfit.

What do you think the benefits are from selling from a trailer?

The benefits of selling from our trailer, Heidi are that we have been able to bring something fresh and fun to Des Moines and it has given us the ability to grow our business. Meeting new customers and making new friends is what we value most about Hill Vintage and the trailer is definitely a conversation piece.

Tell me about some of your favorite vintage pieces you have acquired.

Jessica found this amazing ski jacket from the late 70's full of vintage patches. Did you know Des Moines used to have a ski club?? According the right breast of this jacket it did. Each patch tells a story of someone's skiing adventures around the country and we got to intepret it! Pretty cool if you ask us!

Then of course our 1964 Yellowstone Camper Trailer, Heidi. We found her on Craigslist for a steal so that makes it thrifted...right? Besides the obvious reasons we love Heidi we also love the people that we purchased her from. A nice couple south of Des Moines who were very open about their lives and their history with our Heidi. And this readers is why we love doing and being a part of Hill Vintage.

Is there anything else you’d like to say?

Thanks Shop Local Des Moines for all that you do and thank you for reading. It was great to meet you!

xoxo, erica and jessica

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Shop Spotlight v5: Bean & the Sprout

Tell us about your business? 

Bean & the Sprout is a line of jewelry and accessories handmade from vintage fabrics and jewelry. Each piece is one of a kind and made by my own two hands.

What types of materials do you use in your pieces, are all of them one of a kind? 

Each piece is created from vintage prom dresses, wedding gowns, blouses, etc. and all of the jewelry is found at estate sales and flea markets. I love breathing new life into pieces that are outdated or that have lost their original luster, creating something new but with a hint of nostalgia and femininity.

 How did you start your business and when? 

I originally started making accessories after college when I didn't have a job. I have always been a lover of all things vintage and hunting for lost treasures, and began creating pieces for myself as a way to keep busy. After making pieces for friends, I started selling them at local craft fairs and on Etsy, and eventually in various shops as well.

What inspires you most in your work?

In all my creative ventures, I am inspired by color and texture above all else, but I am most inspired by the materials I use to create my pieces. I love taking an outdated 80's prom dress and pairing the color with a beautiful vintage brooch or earring. I try to create pieces that can be worn with a tee shirt and jeans to create a statement, but could also be paired with an elegant dress as well.

What do you think sets you apart from other similar businesses? 

Along with using vintage fabrics and jewelry, I think that what sets me apart is the unique way that I pair colors and materials. I really try to create something unique and different every time. Each piece is wholly unique but with its own special story. The history is something that I love.

Does your business provide any special services to customers? (i.e. alterations, lending for events, rentals, etc.) 

One of the most rewarding parts of my job is creating custom pieces. Whether I'm working with a bride to create something for her big day or taking someone's heirloom jewelry and creating an updated piece, working hand in hand with a customer is one of my favorite things to do.

Why do you think customers should shop local? 

I think that it takes a tremendous amount of passion and creativity to start your own business whether it's a restaurant, boutique or creating something out of your home. That level of dedication results in quality products and services with a personal touch. The personal relationships you are able to build by shopping local is something I value. I love the idea of knowing the person who made something, not just mass produced in some unknown place.

Etsy Shop

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Shop Spotlight v4: Midwest Pet Paintings









Tell us about your business.

I have been searching for some time to find the appropriate supplement to my career (as a graphic designer) that would appease my need to create. My lifelong love for animals, and talent for painting led me to a pretty obvious choice: Pet paintings! I have started to build up a personal collection of these creations and I am excited to offer them to the public. I create portraits of your favorite pet on canvas with primarily acrylic as the medium. I have done many smaller paintings that work well for people on a budget, and more and more I am able to work on some larger pieces to fit a custom area in the client's home. I truly revere every animal I have ever met, so it has been so fun for me to get to see photos and hear the stories of the pets that have touched other people's lives. The best part is helping to honor those animals who are a real part of people's families.

How did you start your business and when?

I started the business 2010 when my husband was deployed in Afghanistan. One evening after my daughter was asleep I had the urge to create, and I was on facebook and noticed a stunning photo of my friend's boston terrier. I have traditionally been a abstract artist, but I thought I would give painting an animal subject a try. I had so much fun painting the dog that I stayed up and just kept going. I set up a website shortly after that, and to my surprise I started getting orders! The business has taken off in the past 4 months, and I have really enjoyed every minute of it!

Why do you think customers should shop local?

I think that with purchasing custom art, the best part is being able to meet the artist and actually have them personally give you the art. The personal connection of meeting the people I am creating the art for is really inspiring to me. There are some obvious benefits such as stimulating our local economy, which is important, but I find that the benefit of knowing that you can call or stop by if you need anything is pretty neat. I have a mentality as well, that if my client isn't happy, then I am most definitely not happy-- I have found with many of the local stores in Des Moines that they have the same mindset. Local business owners work very hard for their business and are truly passionate about what they do, making it so fun to support them as a consumer.

Does your business provide any special services to customers?

Absolutely, as everything I do is completely custom. I find it is beneficial to be able to have a phone call, series of emails ,or meeting before starting any piece. I will work with my customer to make sure they are getting exactly what they had in mind. I also can paint on any surface, I have an old window that is waiting for me to paint a cat in it!

What do you think sets you apart from other similar businesses?

I think that my niche of pet paintings is something that has definitely been done, so I am striving to offer exemplary customer service and quality at an affordable price. I do a custom quote for every piece, and I want to make sure that what I create is something that not only will be cherished for years, but is also based on a price-point that is reasonable for each individual. The reason I really pushed to get my business going was because I heard from a lot of people, that they would love a painting... but they just cant afford it! I am working hard to change that thought process by working with the customer to find a way to create something they will love and can afford. I truly do love animals and creating this art, and I have found with my past dealings with business owners that is it a lot more fun to work with someone who adores what they do.

What do you think the benefits are for selling online? Have you thought of opening up a brick and mortar shop?

Online is something that is definitely a great way to get started, the cost of putting an item up online is very low, which allows me to keep my prices low. I often miss that personal connect of actually meeting the person that I am creating the art for, but at this point that has been my only negative point. I absolutely have a dream of opening a physical shop, I think that every artist does. I think that a great fit would be to open a small studio that maybe also sells fun pet gifts and supplies. I would adore the ability to interact with customers every day who share the same interests as I do.

Tell me about some of your favorite portraits you’ve done.

Although my pet menagerie features two small fluffy pups I have a soft spot for the bully breeds. Their faces are so soulful and tell a million stories. Any portrait that I get to do of any of those breeds is always fun! My favorites have been gifts that people have ordered for significant others or family members. It is so fun to get that follow up email or call letting me know how much they loved it.


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Event spotlight v1: East Village Holiday Promenade





Tell us about The Holiday Promenade.

This is the 10th anniversary of Holiday Promenade! It started by business owners and residents when the neighborhood was just experiencing a revitalization. It has grown significantly. The highlight of Promenade are the business open houses in the heart of the Historic East Village, but over the last several years, we've coordinated efforts with Brenton Skating Plaza to host the event during their opening night. They have holiday events and Santa that are family friendly, plus skating! The event took on a new dynamic last year when we were approached by Downtown Community Alliance who offered to sponsor a fireworks display during the event. It went great and will be a part of the event this year too.

In the heart of the Villlage, we'll have two horse-drawn carriages, a few groups caroling, plus so many fun events at open houses. Many new businesses race to open before Promenade. This year, we've added a window decorating contest to encourage a festive feel that will kick-off that night and carry on throught the holiday season. We're also giving away 2000 reusable shopping bags at 3 popular stops: Brenton Plaza, LifeServe Blood Center, where they'll have Miss Iowa and Ballet Des Moines performing, and Baby Boomers. The bags will be filled with information, maps, coupons, and samples and people can use them to shop in the HEV throughout the holiday season!

How did you start this event and when?

The event started in 2001. This is the 10th year. I was on the HEV board for two years and ended up taking over the co-chair responsibilities and have just kept on doing that. This is my 3rd year chairing the event.

Why do you think people should attend The Holiday Promenade?

The event really caters to all. For shoppers: Those looking to start their holiday lists (or even start their shopping early!) will find unique items, locally crafted and global goods, items in all price ranges, and some lines they won't find anywhere else in the state or country! People will enjoy visiting their favorite stores for goodies and festive fun, plus this is a great incentive to visit stores new to them and getting to know the owners and employees. They might find new favorites! For families: Fireworks, ice skating, santa, goodies, Ballet, Miss Iowa, gorgeous window displays, horse and carriages..need we say more? We're piling on the holiday spirit...and thick!

How do the local shops get involved in your events and will they be offering any special sales?

This is a favorite of local shops and nearly every one participates. A few have specials and sales. some launch new lines or holiday items, and many offer goodies and events. This is a great time to get a feel for all the East Village has to offer holiday shoppers. It is a busy night for certain and we find that lots of Promenade guests return the next day to make more purchases.

What do you think sets you apart from other Holiday Shopping Events?

We comebine big events with the charm of a small village. The East Village is unique in so many ways and that is in large part due to the great people who choose to invest in the neighborhood by opening businesses and deciding to live there. Businesses don't have a large corporation or mall office telling them how to operate and that adds to the charm. The restaurants are also unique and cater to varied tastes so when you're worn out from shopping, you can pop into one of them for a memorable meal.

What is your favorite East Village Shop or Restaurant?

Don't make me pick a favorite! Most of us support each other, there are great service providers (spas, doctors, attorneys, more!) that we try to use, we eat out in the neighborhood all the time, and I do all of my holiday shopping in the Village because I can find everything I need at every price point. I will say that it is vital that if people only come down for one or two stores they've always visited or restaurants they always frequent, that they get out and pop into others. There are cute little shops and off the beaten path and new businesses opening all the time. There are treasures everywhere.

Is there anything else you’d like to say?

The East Village is not only a great place to visit, but an incredible place to own a business. I own East Village Spa. I've been in the Village for 4 1/2 years, 1 1/2 years in private practice and 3 years as owner of a 2000 sf spa. I started my business in my 20's and that isn't unique in the Village. In that time, I've seen many other young business owners succeed and expand their businesses like I've been able to. I'd never be anywhere else. It is also important for people to recognize that the unique qualities of the Village inspire such an incredible passion and pride in business owners, residents, and volunteers who dedicate so much time and talent to serving on the board.


For more information about this event, please visit the Historic East Village website at or contact the Cassie Sampson at 515-309-2904 or

Do you have a event coming up that you would like us to spotlight? Please contact us at: for more information!

Photos from Metromix

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Shop Spotlight v3: Leona Ruby


email 6


doorknob necklace

Leona Ruby
Ellen Martinson, owner
328 E 6th Street – East Village
Des Moines, IA 50309

Tell us about your business.

Leona Ruby is a jewelry boutique located at the corner of East 6th & Walnut Streets in the East Village. We feature jewelry to express your style whether it is a simple pair of sterling silver earrings, or my favorite, giant cocktail rings to make a bold statement. We carry designer jewelry like Charles Albert and Elizabeth & James, as well as custom Jane Basch monogram necklaces, handmade pieces from local designers and designers across the globe, and a variety of vintage pieces.

How did you start your business and when?

The idea for Leona Ruby has been in my head for years. We officially opened the doors on June 1st of this year. It has been an exciting first year and I am eager to watch it grow.

Why do you think customers should shop local?

Shopping local is great for many reasons. By shopping local you are reinvesting in the community and encouraging growth. Just look at the East Village - what an eclectic area filled with so many fun local shops and restaurants. None of that was here when we moved to Des Moines 10 years ago. By shopping local you are helping create these unique areas making Des Moines a fun place to live and visit.

Does your business provide any special services for customers?

I often get requests for specific vintage styles or sets of necklaces for a wedding party - the jewelry hunt is half the fun! I’m also always happy to loan out jewelry for photoshoots or shows. Finishing touches are key and no outfit is complete with out a little extra style.

Why did you choose the location you are currently at?

The East Village is the first place I considered when we decided to open Leona Ruby. When I saw the space with the huge corner windows, I knew it would be perfect.

What do you think sets you apart from other similar businesses?

The jewelry at Leona Ruby is unique to Des Moines. It is always exciting to wear something that not everyone has seen before. It’s good to be different! I try to have unique pieces that you just couldn’t find in Des Moines, but now you can! It’s a little store with a lot of style.

What do you think the benefits are for having a brick and mortar shop opposed to just selling online?

Having an actual storefront is a huge benefit with jewelry. Customers want to try on pieces and see them in person. Plus, I enjoy interacting with people, that is why the retail world works so well for me. Getting to know people, building a relationship and of course finding that perfect ring or necklace to fit their style!

Tell me about some of your favorite designs.

Well maybe not designers… but my style icons are Yoko Ono, Edie Sedgwick and Cruella Deville.