Kim Kervina is one of the handful of new store owners in the Lakeside community. She opened Vina Boutique’s doors over four months ago in August 2011.
“It’s been about three months,” said Kervina. “I count and keep track of the days like someone would for their baby. I treat the store like it’s my baby.”
Kervina is a wife, a mother of three, and most recently a business owner of the clothing boutique named after the last four letters of her last name.
Kervina lives just a few blocks away from her clothing boutique located on 512 N. 45th Ave. E. She said that she wishes she was on the main drag of Superior Street, but doesn’t mind being located right next to a salon since her main demographic is women in their 30s up to their 80s.
“A woman came in the other day while she was waiting for her husband to pick her up and I told her, ‘While you are here why don’t you try something on?’” said Kervina. “So she put on this dress and she came out with a huge smile on her face saying,
‘Wow, I look amazing in this dress’ and I agreed. I mean she looked great, stunning. So of course she had to buy it and she did.”
Before opening Vina, she was a stay at home mother for her daughter and two sons.
“I call this my midlife crisis even though it is not a crisis,” said Kervina. “Actually it’s more like my Act II.”
Kervina’s family helped get the shop into working order by painting and putting shelves up. Her eldest son even went to Chicago with her to pick out the boutiques fall clothing collection. Along with the support of her family, Kervina also has a neighbor girl and a young woman she calls the Steam Queen help out around the shop.
Chloe Dryke is Vina’s Steam Queen, whose job consists of steaming the clothes to get out all the wrinkles that developed during the shipping process. Dryke is a freshman studying nursing at the College of St. Scholastica. She also dates Kervina’s oldest son.
“I don’t mind being called the Steam Queen,” said Dryke. “I sometimes burn my hand but it is worth it. It makes the clothes look good.”
Not only does Vina carry clothes from countries in Europe like France and England, but it also has a local touch. The boutique is decorated with tables and bookcases from antique stores in the Twin Ports area, garage sales and even Serendipity, the Lakeside antique and home decorating store located a few shops over on E. Superior Street.
“We all look after one another here,” said George Lokken, the owner of Superior Beads, which is another small business in the neighborhood. “We support one another as much as we can by shopping locally.”
Kervina emphasized that she and the other small business owners in the community have opened these shops to make money and earn a living. They are not just another hobby.
“I would intentionally not make this my hobby. I have to make money,” said Kervina. “It’s kind of the American dream, isn’t it? And now I’m living that dream.”