Orange Poppy started out as an online boutique in Melinda and Chris Bowles’ bonus room. Soon after, it expanded to their Powell home’s 1,000-square-foot basement. Orange Poppy also sells a range of baby blankets, hair bands and scrunchies to coordinate with their outfits. Orange Poppy also sells a range of baby blankets, hair bands and scrunchies to coordinate with their outfits.
“Two years later we had outgrown our space, we were stepping over orders everywhere,” said Melinda Bowles. “We were receiving 1,500 orders per month.” In March, it was time to make a move to their new 3,000-square-foot warehouse at 7613 Maynardville Pike in Halls. The Bowles have just put the finishing touches to their public showroom and will celebrate with a grand opening 5:30-8:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 16. Orange Poppy is an upscale girl's clothing boutique selling rompers, dresses, shorts sets and collegiate themed outfits. Sizes range from newborn to a size 8 or 9 and sometimes up to a size 10 for the fall collegiate collections.
“After I had my daughter, who has just turned 3, I had the idea to start my own business,” said Bowles. “I was looking at different Facebook groups and they all seemed to operate on a pre-order system of 10-12 weeks. By the time I got my order I had forgotten that I had placed it. I thought, I can do this and have inventory in store and ship it to people within two days of receiving their order.”
Bowles tested the waters. “We started with one package of inventory – just five outfits with three of each size, but even that made me nervous,” she said. “Then, I kept ordering more and selling more.”
Orange Poppy sells a range of matching separates for newborns to size 8 or 9. The new showroom is filled with plenty of options for a family summer vacation. Orange Poppy sells a range of matching separates for newborns to size 8 or 9. The new showroom is filled with plenty of options for a family summer vacation.
Within six months Orange Poppy was shipping to every state in the United States and even internationally to countries such as Japan. Eventually, last September, Bowles had to leave her full-time job and jump into Orange Poppy with both feet. The holiday seasons are the busiest, according to Bowles. “At Christmas we always have a few outfits that we can’t keep in stock,” she said. “Every single holiday – we really beef up our inventory.” Some of the merchandise is bought wholesale in addition to the collections that Bowles custom designs herself. “The custom designs, baby stuff and sister sets of matching rompers and dresses always do really well,” she said.
“Whenever we get to August, it’s hard to find cute and affordable collegiate styles,” said Bowles. “We have collections for Alabama, Georgia and Kentucky, but it’s our Tennessee styles that are always our best sellers. We had one item that we restocked three times, with 50 in each size.”
The showroom, located just north of Halls High School, will be open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on Saturdays. “We accept all major debit and credit cards and cash and if we have a large turnout we will expand those hours,” said Bowles. And for local customers, Orange Poppy offers free warehouse pickup. Custom-designed pieces at Orange Poppy in Halls. Custom-designed pieces at Orange Poppy in Halls.
At the grand opening, customers can expect giveaways and door prizes every 30 minutes and plenty of party food and refreshments. “There are a couple of things that we have in the showroom that aren’t even available on the website yet,” she said. “We had already ordered the strawberry print rompers and dresses before we realized how many requests we were getting for them.” For summer, Bowles said they have lots of beach-themed clothing. “We have mermaids, whales, flamingos and tropical maxi sets,” she said. Just about every week from October through November Orange Poppy is a vendor at local barn sales and Christmas markets.
Credit: Ali James, Shopper News correspondent