Nestled in the bustling Surf City Crossing shopping center, Apricot Lane Hampstead is more than just a women’s clothing boutique—it’s a fashion haven that brings the community together. Owned by the dynamic duo of Courtney and Tony Colmenares, this boutique is a testament to the vibrant entrepreneurial spirit of the Topsail region.
Whether you’re a resident or a visitor, this store offers something for everyone, from trendy styles to timeless classics.
Meet the Owners: Courtney and Tony Colmenares
As the Editor of Topsail Guide, I’ve had the privilege of getting to know many local business owners, but few have struck me as deeply committed to the community as Courtney and Tony Colmenares.
They’re not just business owners; they’re active participants in the fabric of our local life. Their journey back to Topsail after a decade away speaks volumes about their love for this area. They bring a blend of passion, experience, and community spirit that makes Apricot Lane Hampstead a unique and cherished establishment.
Our Conversation with Courtney Colmenares
Topsail Guide had the pleasure of talking with Courtney Colmenares, one of the driving forces behind Apricot Lane Hampstead.
Our conversation was not just about fashion or business; it was a deep dive into the heart and soul of what makes this boutique a cornerstone in our community.
From their journey back to Topsail to their commitment to sustainable and ethical fashion, Courtney opened up about the passion and purpose that fuel Apricot Lane Hampstead. Read on to discover the story behind the styles.
What inspired you to bring Apricot Lane Boutique to the Topsail region?
My husband, Tony, and I were stationed here from 2010 to 2012 when there were very few shops, restaurants, and entertainment options. Even so, we fell in love with the community and the beauty of the Greater Topsail area and knew one day we wanted to make it back.
It took ten years but we moved back (this time with 3 kids in tow) in June of 2022. We had always dreamed of opening a small business together and the timing finally felt right.
Apricot Lane Boutique is a franchise with over 100 locally owned and operated boutiques nationwide. They are a faith-based brand that focuses on sourcing fashions from sustainable and ethical vendors at price points under $100. Everything about Apricot Lane and their business model aligned with our personal core values so we decided to take the plunge!
How do you ensure your boutique caters to the diverse fashion tastes of the community?
Our #1 goal is to be a place where the mom, the daughter, and the glam-maw can shop together! We curate an assortment that includes sizing from XS to XL in all styles, and 1X and 2X in select styles.
You can find ultra-trendy, flashy junior styles and also conservative, contemporary brands (and everything in between).
How do you choose the products for your boutique? Are there specific criteria you use to ensure it aligns with the fashion sense of the region?
We attend apparel markets several times a year to stay on top of fashion trends. We work with over 100 vendors and place orders weekly. We only order 6-7 of each piece so items tend to sell out fast, but our boutique always looks new and fresh. We always tell our customers, if you love it you better buy it now. If you’re not sure, put it back and come back next week!
How do your personal styles influence the selections at the boutique?
I actually try not to order my style. I really strive to stock something for every age and style instead. We are very lucky to have a stylist on our team that has merchandising experience. She and I work on ordering together every single day.
We have a formula to ensure that we have a small percentage of very fashion directional (trendy items) and a much larger percentage of traditional, basic items. With that being said, I love everything in the store and constantly surprise myself with the items that I end up taking home!
Can you describe the stylist services you offer and how these services differentiate you from other boutiques?
All of our employees are trained to be personal stylists. We want every customer that comes in our boutique to feel like a VIP. We are always available to assist every customer in putting an outfit together or provide feedback on what they’ve tried on (and we’ve been told we’re brutally honest, but in a good way!).
We also offer “shop by appointment”. If a customer is going on a vacation, planning an outfit or a special event, or just refreshing their wardrobe, they can book an appointment with a personal stylist (free of charge) and we will have a personal curated assortment of outfits and accessories waiting for them when they arrive.
How does Apricot Lane make fashion accessible and appealing to customers of all ages and backgrounds?
We do this by offering the widest range of styles, sizes, and colors in the area, at price points from $5-$100. I try to stock a premium and opening price point option for our core items. For example, I have denim options starting in the $60 range, and more premium name brand options at $100. I have bramis and camisoles at $10 all the way to $30.
What role does your boutique play in the local community beyond just retail?
We didn’t open Apricot Lane to build wealth, but rather to become active participants in our local business community, giving back when we can.
We have some exciting giveaways currently that benefit our teachers as we move towards back to school season. In addition, we regularly donate items to a local women’s shelter. Each month that we meet our sales goal we defer a percentage to a local nonprofit and offer bonuses to our team.
How do you create a unique and memorable shopping experience for your customers?
On a typical Saturday, you can walk into our boutique and see a group of women showing what they have tried on to their friends and even a husband or two who is sitting in our oversized lounge chairs. We offer complimentary alcoholic and non-alcoholic refreshments to all of our customers to make the shopping experience fun, relaxing, and special.
Our stylists can be found right by the dressing rooms encouraging our customers to come out and show us what they’ve tried on. Boosting customer’s confidence is one of our top goals. We want our customers to leave with the right outfit that they will wear again and again because it makes them feel beautiful.
How do your previous experiences contribute to the successful operation of Apricot Lane Hampstead?
I have worked in corporate finance for 12 years now. At the beginning of my career, I was an auditor that focused on franchises (iHop, Waffle House, Tin Drum, and Arby’s were a few of my clients). After that I worked at Spanx in their family office division managing the owner’s investments and estate planning. Currently, I am the CFO of Saalt, a reusable feminine hygiene company based out of Boise, ID. I have worked in nearly every corner of accounting, taxation, and finance and I have also worked for some pretty awesome female entrepreneurs.
My husband, Tony, served in the USMC and then in the private sector managed the facilities for a large Methodist Church. While owning a boutique is a new venture for us, we have brought our experiences in finance, operations, and world-class processes and procedures with us to Apricot Lane. We fail constantly, but as Sara Blakely would say “if you’re not failing, you’re not trying”.
Can you share an instance where your boutique made a significant impact on a customer’s fashion journey or self-confidence?
We see this constantly and this is what keeps us energized. I specifically remember in our first week a woman came in that had just gone through a bad divorce. She was ready to start dating again but I could tell she was nervous to try on clothes. She asked if we offered personal styling services and I offered to help her myself.
Three hours later she left with several bags in hand and tears in her eyes and she expressed immense gratitude for our patience with her and for pushing her outside of her comfort zone. Since then she has become an Apricot Lane regular and one of my favorite customers.
You’ve lived in different areas over the years, including Atlanta and Holly Ridge. How do those experiences influence your approach to business and life in Hampstead?
I love that our lives have allowed us to live in so many different areas. Holly Ridge was a teeny-tiny town when we lived there 12 years ago. I’ll never forget the immense culture shock when we moved from Holly Ridge to midtown Atlanta. My husband was too scared to drive to the grocery store when we first moved there because the roads were so narrow and everyone drove so fast.
Now being back in the area, we are so grateful for the growth and change we have seen in the greater Topsail area, but also proud to see that the culture has been preserved despite the growth. We want to approach our business with kindness and respect for other business owners and be a part of this culture preservation. Community not competition is a motto we live by.
How has returning to Topsail after ten years been for you both as a family and as business owners?
Moving back has been the single best decision we’ve ever made. We live only 2 miles from the store which is so great. Our kids are on their bikes all day every day running around the neighborhood with their friends. The memories we’ve made at the beach and on the boat will stick with me for a lifetime.
The friends we’ve made in just one year are lifelong friends who have supported us every step of the way by bringing food, watching our kids, helping at the store, and checking in constantly to see how we’re doing. We feel so grateful for this community.
What does a typical day look like for you, balancing your roles as business owners and parents?
I will say no two days are the same but with that being said, most mornings I spend an hour with our lead stylist / merchant going through social media for that day, placing orders, and talking through what we expect to receive that day and where to place it in the store. Tony usually goes in after lunch to receive shipments and tag the new inventory and assist with moving inventory around. I plug myself into the schedule on one weekday and one weekend day per week to have time dedicated to customer interaction. Our kids are wonderful and very flexible. We make sure to make it to most of the things (practices, games, school events) and explain to them why we can’t make it to them all.
What do you hope your children learn from seeing you run Apricot Lane Boutique?
As a working mom, I wonder daily if I’m doing too much. I work extremely hard and I’m often seen running (literally) from meeting to meeting and missing sports practices and school events. I hope that on the other side, my kids grow up to see a mom who gave everything 100% percent, never sacrificed quality, and never gave up. I take my older two kids (9 and 7) along on the ride.
They have learned how to count our opening and closing till, they are often tasked with sweeping the store, restocking tissue paper, restocking our back office supplies, and the dreaded task of putting new earrings on the Apricot Lane earring cards. As they get older I plan to teach them how to read financial statements, how to budget, and how to plan for the future. Our youngest is 2 but he will be learning soon enough!
As locals who have seen the area change and grow, how does that knowledge shape the way you serve your customers at Apricot Lane Boutique?
We try to do our part to preserve the kind and supportive culture that this area is known for. We shop small and support local businesses and other business owners return the favor. When we have customers come in and not find what they’re looking for, I refer them to our other local boutiques in the hope that they find what they are looking for. We never want to pressure customers to purchase. We want them to find the right outfit, gift, or accessory, even if it isn’t with us!
If you’re in the Topsail area, whether you’re a resident or just visiting, make sure to stop by Apricot Lane Hampstead. Courtney, Tony, and their incredible staff are always there to offer you a personalized shopping experience. They’re not just selling clothes; they’re building a community, one outfit at a time. And now that you’ve read all about them here on Topsail Guide, you’ll have plenty to talk about when you visit!
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