Words: Brittany Daugherty
Photos: Meghan Sheppard
A Parisian-inspired flower shop and vintage boutique focused on giving back has quickly become a beloved staple in the downtown Springs community. Mother-daughter duo, Sharon Hunt and Laura Acresti opened the shop in March of this year and haven’t looked back. Laura, her husband and their three boys moved here five years ago and planted their roots on the Westside. After successfully convincing her Mother, Sharon, to move here a few years after, the two began dreaming up their entrepreneurial endeavor that we now know as ViE.
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Laura and her Mother about this dream that came to fruition earlier this year.
For anyone who knows French, (or has taken a peek at your web-boutique) we are aware that the word "vie" is a noun that when translated means "life" in the English language. Why is this name fitting for your shop?
“Our definition of “VIE” is the experience of being fully alive and engaged in recognizing that beauty is all around us,” says Laura.
Laura goes on to explain that her and her Mother have a resolve that they wish to instill in all people they have the pleasure of interacting with – this resolve is to understand that wherever you happen to be in life, beauty can be seen and found—fresh flowers and old, repurposed pieces happen to be one way this is expressed at their shop.
What inspired the Parisian-Vintage feel for ViE?
Laura lists her travels, specifically how the French country side inspired a nostalgia that she wanted to extend into her shop. “This style offers a warm feeling of comfort and natural elegance with an emphasis on earthy and rustic accessories. It makes one feel welcomed and at home,” she says.
Tell me more about what specifically drove your passion for making your mark through entrepreneurship, fashion and giving back.
“Through my travels I saw how the smallest acts of human kindness can create a connection and make a positive change. I returned with a mission to someday, somehow channel my longtime love of fashion and entrepreneurial spirit into a different kind of business—a business built on kindness,” says Laura. She goes on to say that she believes the clothes in our suitcases, the jewelry in our jewelry boxes—even the jewelry boxes themselves—can all be something more, beyond the appreciation we get from them ourselves.
Being environmentally conscious is also important to Laura and Sharon, therefore a large portion of ViE Boutique’s offerings, store fixtures and packaging is green – either made in the USA, fair trade certified or made from recycled or organic materials. They also strive to specifically support Colorado products.
Laura lives and breathes the giving back culture through volunteering regularly at an organization called Mercy Springs who partners with community centers in our city to assist families in poverty who are in need of food, support and love.
Laura admits that her Mother instilled an enjoyment for all things vintage early on. “Tea parties with antique china filled my childhood. In my teen years, I was a regular at antique fairs and auctions with my mom by my side. I have always had a passion for things from a bygone era. There is a real romance to objects that have their own history, and seemingly nothing better than the anticipation of what you might find at an antique sale or flea market.” Laura explains that even in her travels, she finds herself seeking out local flea markets.
Her most memorable vintages pieces she has to-date include a pottery vase from Israel, as well as a complete tea set from South Eastern Europe.
What charities are currently benefiting from the proceeds of ViE?
"Our fair trade companies currently include 31 Bits, Raven + Lily, Nkuku and Hand in Hand," says Laura.
31 Bits uses fashion and design to empower people to rise above poverty. Jewelry carefully crafted by hand in Uganda. The “bits” comes from what the beads are made out of: bits of paper. Raven + Lily is a socially-conscious lifestyle brand dedicated to empowering women through design with sustainable employment opportunities in India, Ethiopia, Kenya, Cambodia and Pakistan. Nkuku is a socially responsible home décor company built on the principles of fair trade and equal opportunity. Finally, Hand in Hand Soap and Body Products donates a bar of soap to a child in a developing country for every bar that's purchased.
Why downtown Colorado Springs?
“My husband and I settled in Colorado Springs five years ago and immediately felt at home,” Laura reveals, “Two years ago, my mother, Sharon, moved here and we immediately began taking steps to launching our business.”
The whole family feels like they already have deep roots planted in this community and decided downtown, being the hub for the city’s events, was the ideal place to launch their business.
What would you like to see in our community that isn’t currently here?
“We would love to see a greater love and support for small businesses, specifically those in downtown Colorado Springs." Laura continues, “We think there is so much culture and diversity, even found within the downtown community, that has yet to be truly appreciated.”
Fresh flowers, yes please. Tell me more about this side of your shop.
“My Mother, Sharon and I believe God's paintbrush comes alive through nature; we work to capture the beauty and reverie of each detail within our bouquets and arrangements that tend to be steeped with European influence," says Laura.
The Mother-daughter duo are fulfilled by seeing peoples’ joy in their floral creations and designs.
“I've been told I possess a natural instinct for creating beauty,” admits Laura. “I’m uplifted, excited and in my happy place when I’m in the midst of flowers and the task of arranging them into the most precise bouquet.”
Laura has extensive experience in the floral industry and continues grow in her knowledge by staying on the edge of the latest trends, while never neglecting the tried and true styles of classic and traditional elements.
What is your favorite floral arrangement?
“They happen to be the same,” Laura smiles as I take note that she and her mother are the epitome of kindred spirits. “Our favorite floral design is the European-style – a mixture of both wild and structured, classic & modern. This arrangement tends to be very compact with either a monochromatic or ombre color scheme.” Using the freshest seasonal flower varieties is an absolute at the ViE flower shop.
Laura and Sharon, tell me more about the two of you: your roots, what you each offer to make ViE what it is.
“As a mother and daughter we have always shared a closeness and friendship,” says Laura. "Our love of boutique shopping wherever we traveled across the world grew into a common dream to one day open our very own. Several years ago, we took our bond one step closer when we began brainstorming about how we could make our dream of ViE a reality.”
Laura explains, “My Mother, Sharon, is very strong with the numbers and organization with the business side of things.” Laura tends to be the more right-side-of-the-brain using her creative aesthetic and vision for what they could do and become. “We have the playing off one another's strengths and weaknesses thing down to an art.”
8 S. Tejon St.
Colorado Springs, CO 80903
P: (719) 287-4011