Primp: Cheap Chic Boutique

Fashion that doesn’t cost a fortune

Primp boutique owners Michele Gudmundson and University grad Wesley Uthus at their St. Paul store on Wednesday. The boutique, which offers fashionable items at affordable prices, is just one of six locations in the surrounding area.

Juliet Farmer

Primp boutique owners Michele Gudmundson and University grad Wesley Uthus at their St. Paul store on Wednesday. The boutique, which offers fashionable items at affordable prices, is just one of six locations in the surrounding area.

Micaela Resh

Primp is a local fashion boutique that offers stylish clothing at realistic prices. Its owners — part entrepreneurs, part designers — Michele Gudmundson and Wesley Uthus founded the store in September 2010. Since then, Primp has expanded from three to six locations in and around the Twin Cities.

Uthus, a University of Minnesota apparel design graduate, sat down with A&E to discuss her success in the Minnesota retail market.

“Everything in the store is under $100, with most items well under $50. We strive to create a clean, welcoming boutique experience that previously could only be found with high-end price tags,” Uthus said.

The store has a diverse array of apparel and accessories that range from basic staples to season specific trends.

“We pride ourselves in having something for everyone. Every single one of our employees are trained stylists to help our customers find that perfect piece,” Uthus said.

Primp’s consumer base draws in women between the ages 24 and 35, but it fluctuates based on location.

“We travel all over the U.S. to find the perfect mix of clothing and accessories that is unique to Primp. Michele and I both went to school for fashion design, and two years ago we began designing our own line Henry + Martin,” Uthus said.

The line, named fittingly after both designers’ maiden names, currently makes up 15 percent of the merchandise at Primp. It includes versatile knit dresses and tops. After designing each piece in Minneapolis, manufacturing takes place in Los Angeles. The remaining portion of their inventory is brought in through trade shows and buying events in New York, Las Vegas and Los Angeles.
Uthus attributed her knack for design in part to her education at the University of Minnesota.

“I really attribute the majority of that to Dr. Elizabeth Bye and Dr. Karen LaBat in the apparel design program. They were nothing but extremely supportive of all my crazy ideas and created such a positive learning environment,” Uthus said.

The past year served as a tremendous time of growth and expansion for Primp. They entered 2014 with three store locations in St. Paul, St. Louis Park and White Bear Lake. Throughout the year, they opened more shops in Minneapolis, Excelsior and Woodbury.

Looking to the future, Primp owners are focusing their efforts on branching into e-commerce.

“We have a tried and true formula when opening a brick-and-mortar store, but online is a completely different business. It’s important to us to stay true to our brand and offer exceptional customer service online, which has traditionally been a very impersonal transaction,” said Uthus.

Jumping into spring, Primp is stocking up on gear for the warm weather.

“We just returned from Vegas, and we couldn’t be more excited about all the upcoming spring trends,” said Uthus.
In particular, shoppers should be on the lookout for full skirts, pastel blazers, plaid button downs and crop tops. They’re also eager for soft distressed denim and fringe detailing for spring.