For many aspiring entrepreneurs, the lifestyle and autonomy associated with being a startup founder exist as only a dream. Andrea Brown, owner of Gone Rogue Boutique, never believed she would end up owning her own business, with the ability to dictate how her time was spent and where her energy was focused. Working in social services, Brown had always enjoyed helping people in her community and connecting them to resources, but the pandemic appeared to make that goal harder to reach.
“When it was time to supplement my income, I began making jewelry and quickly realized how much I enjoyed being a maker,” says Brown. Stumbling upon a supportive network of local artisans, Brown decided her focus would be on championing other small local artisan businesses, and she began Gone Rogue Boutique as an online business. “I wanted to not follow the traditional model of pop-up or consignment because I feel buying the products outright from local artisans is the ethical way to do business,” she says.
With a fervent digital footprint established, Brown was invited to be a vendor at the Riverfront Festival during the World Athletic Championships in July. “It was a wonderful surprise that most of the people shopping at our booth were actually locals, and they all kept asking me where my storefront was,” she recalls. “Obviously, I knew what needed to happen next.”
Now with an established brick-and-mortar store in the Whiteaker neighborhood, Gone Rogue Boutique invites customers in with a relaxed, laid-back aesthetic, warm welcoming scents, and comfortable armchairs that encourage visitors to stick around for a while. “One thing I learned is the importance of browsing and human connection in the shopping experience,” Brown says. “I love how conscious our shoppers are of wanting to support local artisans. Everyone looks forward to discovering new items on each visit thanks to the rotating products.”
With its fierce commitment to products that are locally made, Gone Rogue Boutique takes the idea of community building and expands it to gargantuan proportions. “I habitually offer events that spotlight local artisans and bring people together in an energetic and encouraging environment,” Brown explains. “That includes paint parties, cookie decorating classes, and our book club!”
Brown credits her success to a collaborative network of local mentors and her participation in Onward Eugene’s free accelerator program. Brown spent 12 weeks in the program, bonding with the fellow entrepreneurs in her cohort and making new connections through the robust mentor one-on-ones.
“Having people in your corner during your entrepreneurial journey is vital,” Brown says. “This experience is challenging, but knowing that there is someone you can call anytime makes all the difference.” She recognizes the cyclical relationship as an entrepreneur providing a platform to help other entrepreneurs. “I love that Gone Rogue Boutique is here to help others gain visibility, grow their company, and build a social community,” Brown says. Visit Gone Rogue Boutique at 123 Monroe St. Suite A, thegonerogueboutique.com
Comcast Business is a steadfast supporter of local entrepreneurs and small businesses in Eugene and Springfield, including these featured companies. Onward Eugene and Comcast Business have an ongoing partnership to create a thriving local economy. Caitlin Vargas is the Startup Community Director, helping entrepreneurs launch their business. Connect with her about plugging into local resources, mentorship, and the Innovation Hub at linkedIn.com/in/caitlinvargas.