Boutique has ‘grown up’ over the years
By BETH ALTENA
Paperdoll owner Erika Morgan was just 21 when she opened up her popular boutique in downtown Rockford. Thirteen years later the shop is still in business, bucking trends for new businesses making it and surviving an economy that has made most businesses suffer.
Erica credits her father, Bryan Rose, an environmental engineer with his own business, as helping her figure out the ins and outs of successfully running a company. She said the process was trial and error, and said the tone of the store and her selections, have evolved as she grew up with her store. Paperdoll currently operates in a large, open space in the Promenade of Rockford at 6 E. Bridge Street. The store features beautiful glass walls with clear views of the White Pine Trail and outdoors. It is the third location for Paperdoll, which moved to larger digs with each change of location. Erica believes this location is the best and offers the most visibility.
Erica said starting a business is a process that begins with creating a business
plan. She said she estimated her expenses, and planned on the high side just to be safe. “You make your business plan and then get your stuff together,” she described. She picked the name Paperdoll because she thought it was cute and related to clothing. “You dress paperdolls,” she said, happily admitting she enjoyed the activity as a kid herself.
“You figure out your startup costs and operating costs, and expect not to make money the first year,” she advised. Erica said she actually found a packet online that guided her through the startup process.
Not the only successful entrepreneur in her family, Erica noted that Aunt Candy’s Candy Lancioni is her aunt, and encouraged her to open her store in Rockford. “Everything you make, you put it right back into your business to grow it,” Erica said. “It’s not rocket science. It takes hard work and you have to be self-motivated.”
For the first six or seven years Erica spent every day at her store, but now has the luxury of spending more time at home—with the family at home who also grew up with Paperdoll. “I wasn’t married when I started Paperdoll, so my husband Rian really married me and the store,” she said. Ditto for her two children, now ages eight and two, who have only known a mother who is also a business owner. Son Eli is the eight year old and Emerie is her daughter, named after he husband’s middle name.
Erica said her solo years of Paperdoll were by design, not accident. “I did it when I was young because I didn’t want anyone else to suffer. I’d be the only one eating Ramen noodles.”
Now Rian is active in the family business, helping out by doing all of the marketing, which is a good fit with his career as a graphic designer. A Kendall College of Art and Design graduate, he designs the Paperdoll marketing material and website. He also owns his own business, Stage1Design.com.
With textures colors and styles that change with the seasons, there is always plenty of unique and affordable clothing, accessories and gift items at Paperdoll. Hot right now are Frye boots, really comfortable, made extremely well and they last forever. “We are selling tons of boots,” Erica stated. Also extremely hot right now are James Jeans, color print denim.
Apparel lines include QSW, Tulle, Roxy, Element, Billabong, Volcom, Splendid, Hudson, Ya Los Angeles, Standards & Practices. Erica said she made sure the boutique would be known for high-quality apparel and unusual finds. Three shoppers who happened to be checking out while the Squire talked with Erica were kind enough to pose for a photograph as they checked out. “They have the cutest clothes here,” said Sydney Aldrich. “I love everything.” She added that everyone in the store is always friendly and some of her friends work in the boutique.
If it has taken you thirteen years to decide to visit Paperdoll, you are way past due. Check out the selection of clothes and accessories, and if you happen to see Erica, congratulate her on her 13 years running her own business. The store hours are Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Paperdoll will be open on Sundays noon to 4 p.m. Thanksgiving until Christmas.