This is the kind of story that makes you smile. Twenty-five years ago, two young girls met working at the former boutique, Lido, on Duval Street. They became inseparable best friends and since have shared just about everything life has to offer except one thing, their own business. Now Meredith Bollong and Tania Cole have combined their years of friendship and fashion into the already fabulous new store downtown, Vignette.
Different paths still lead them to the same dream. Back in 1999, Bollong, with partner Michael Min Khin, opened the successful Bésame Mucho in Bahama Village and Cole went on to manage Blue Boutique for 18 years. When Blue closed last June, all three saw an opportunity to partner in retail. In three short months, they redid the previous “Cottage” space at 526 Southard Street, found new clothing lines and created the kind of store women in this town crave. With the help and support of many friends who pitched in, they opened the doors in October.
“The opportunity was there with Tania’s passion for clothing,” said Bollong, who still remembers Cole coming to Key West with her vintage leopard collection. “Michael does the business, and I do design and branding, that’s my thing.” And it’s a good thing as Vignette is inviting and chic, like browsing in a truly fabulous closet. The clothes are modern, wearable, and come in a range of prices and styles for every kind of woman.
But Vignette is more than a store, it is an experience, like having two fashion fairy godmothers dote on you. The women care about the type of retail service they learned in the old days, before outlets and online. And they remember their customers’ names and styles and help them, with a great deal of humor and music, get dressed. All while telling their own vignettes about the old days of Key West, a few too many nights at the Copacabana, or backpacking around Europe. (Fair warning, don’t ask about their cats; you might see pictures.) For these women, fashion and friendship are two things they can’t live without and at Vignette, they won’t let you, either.