I recently met boutique owner HanNa Jung of Bonded Boutique in University City. Her small and dainty store is full of character and personality. From the custom-made, repurposed furniture to the quirky little knick knacks in corners, Bonded Boutique screams eye candy for college ladies and beyond. But it wasn’t just the perfect dress and one-of-a-kind necklace that called my attention. Sure, every girl loves fashion. But what makes this boutique truly amazing is the charity work they’re involved in to give back and help others. Here’s a glimpse of our conversation.
Femme & Fortune:Give us a quick history lesson on how Bonded Boutique came to be!
HanNa: Before Bonded Boutique became what it is today, it used to be your average neighborhood dry cleaners. Bonded Cleaners has a long history on Penn’s campus being in business since 1929. It is even said to be the first dry cleaners to invent the “original hem” to shorten your denims and keeping them looking exactly the way you bought them.
In 2011 Bonded dry cleaners was transformed into what you see today, a unique combination of a dry cleaners and a boutique.
Having studied fashion design and 3D fine arts, perceiving all objects and the world with an artistic sensibility became natural. And I think that’s how the idea of creating this dual-purpose business came so naturally.
Femme & Fortune: If you were to use 3 words to describe Bonded Boutique, what would they be?
Jewelry box: Everything in the boutique is carefully curated just like each jewelry item one would store in a jewelry box.
Romantic: Not only are the clothing and jewelry feminine and flirty with romantic details, but the decor of the boutique is romantic and vintage inspired as well.
Fashion forward: Each piece in the boutique is something that isn’t ubiquitous. It is unique, yet something that is still fashionable and stylish. I have many regulars who shop here and tell me that they keep it a secret because they want to be the only one to wear our special pieces. I guess that’s good and bad at the same time for us!
(Peaceful:) This has been a surprising word that we also hear a lot from our customers. I would have never imagined using this word to describe our boutique, but I’m delighted to hear that our space can give peace to others.
Femme & Fortune: What would you say makes Bonded Boutique different and unique compared to others?
HanNa: Firstly, it’s the business concept that makes us a truly one of a kind establishment. You will not find any other boutique or a dry cleaners like us anywhere. And not only that, although our business is a for-profit company, we have the heart of a non-profit. We want to be a company that is socially aware and gives back to our community.
Secondly, it’s our design sensibility. Our decor, and almost all of our furniture in the boutique is custom made from recycled materials which is re-purposed, making them environmentally friendly as well.
And last but not least, it’s our selection of clothes and accessories. We carry things that are different from your run-of-the-mill stores, and we carry a limited number of pieces as well. Which means that not only do we have new styles constantly, but that if something captures your heart you must get it ASAP, or most likely there won’t be a “next time.”
Femme & Fortune: You mentioned that Bonded Boutique is heavily involved in charity work. What kind of organizations are they and why did you choose them specifically?
HanNa: We are involved with: World Vision, Compassion, Love 146, Hosanna Missions, Germantown Hope Community Church, UPENN Campus Renewal Ministries.
– World Vision and Compassion is sponsorship program for children and at risk youth programs in third world countries to give them a better future. We chose this organization because we strongly believe that every child is important, and not a single child should be neglected. For example, to some people sponsoring one child may seem insignificant compared to giving thousands and millions of dollars to a charity. But if we each would sponsor at least one child, the impact we could make would be astounding.
– Love 146 is an organization committed to working towards ending child sex trafficking and exploitation through survivor care, preventive education, professional training and empowering movement. We chose this organization because we believe that not one person should be exploited in any manner especially children.
– Hosanna Missions is an organization that is committed to expanding the Kingdom of God through spreading the gospel message and helping the needy in areas where Christianity is still not well known.
These are organizations where we’re currently committed to, but we also support other fundraising events that come up. We often partner up with various Penn organizations and provide gift cards and auction items. We recently were part of Penn benefit fashion shows where we loaned them our clothes and provided them with auction items.
Femme & Fortune: Where do you see your boutique going in the next 5 years? Any thoughts on opening a second location closer to heart of Center City? Why/Why not?
HanNa: It definitely includes opening other locations and continuing to expand. We’re currently looking for a second location that would be a good fit with us, and that may or may not be in Center City. It really depends on a lot of moving parts. But it would be great to be in or closer to Center City.
Femme & Fortune: What would be your advice to someone looking to start their own boutique?
HanNa: Find a good location and know your target market well. And once you have those two, don’t be anxious, but be patient and work hard. And managing your cash flow is important too! [separator type=”thin”]