Erin DeJong Brings Her Distinctive Business and Marketing Talents to Bear
Writer / Fredda Kovacs
Photographer / Kelly Klemmensen
In a world of fast fashion and ever-changing trends, a touch of elegance and timelessness can be hard to find. Erin DeJong’s story is not just about entrepreneurship, but also about preserving style, family values, and community engagement – sharing a vision that transcends generations.
The era of the pandemic forced many businesses to make tough decisions, and for DeJong, this period prompted her to reconsider her own corporate career path. “Throughout my career I had often thought about different businesses I wanted to pursue and felt it was the time to evaluate all ideas,” says DeJong.
With an executive background that equipped her with the skills and experience necessary to make a bold move, DeJong decided to pivot. In November of 2021 she started a fractional services firm that specializes in strategic marketing and revenue operations, called Grivot Strategies. “My husband, Kurt, is my biggest cheerleader,” says DeJong. “With his full support, it felt like the opportune time to help small and local businesses bridge the gap of staffing and skill-set deficiencies created by a world turned upside down.”
After developing a business model and securing a few clients, Grivot Strategies gained notable momentum.
In December of 2021, a social media announcement appeared in DeJong’s Facebook feed that would plot an interesting twist.
The story of Caroline’s Boutique begins with Jennifer and Julie, two sisters and high school friends of DeJong, who had successfully started and operated the boutique for many years. Despite the boutique’s thriving business, the sisters faced a momentous decision in the pursuit of new family journeys as their children and parents grew older. They made the choice to close their beloved establishment, leaving behind a legacy of style and grace in Brownsburg.
Seeing this as an opportunity to bring her boutique dreams to life, DeJong took a leap of faith and approached them with an offer to purchase the online and mobile portions of their business. She envisioned a hybrid model, combining an online presence with a mobile component, allowing customers to shop from the comfort of their homes and at various pop-up locations throughout the community and across the state. The sisters accepted and helped DeJong with key operational elements of the transition.
The journey since then has been deliberate, marked by careful planning around her core business and clients, the need to build a dedicated team, and defining a clear vision for the boutique.
In establishing the legal entity name for the boutique purchase, Viola Lou Jean was chosen, as it holds a special place in DeJong’s heart, paying homage to her and her husband’s grandmothers. “My grandmothers had such unique styles that I admired as a child,” she says. “My ‘Mississippi’ grandma [Nadis Viola] Harrison is a true southern belle. She was always impeccably dressed with manicured nails, wearing her pearl earrings and ‘lips on’ with such a talent for hosting. And my grandma [Zoe Lou] Brown was a spitfire with a love for stylish shoes and fabulous costume jewelry. I couldn’t wait to wear all of her necklaces and fit into her size-five shoes as a child!”
DeJong’s husband, Kurt, fondly recalls the styles and personalities of both his grandmothers as well – grandma Mary Lou Switzer, with bright, witty humor, always rewarding strong academics, and Grandma Alma Jean DeJong, the stylish matriarch of the DeJong family.
DeJong’s meticulous approach to relaunching the boutique is evident in every detail. She is joined by a close friend, Tricia, who shares the same vision for the boutique, and helps source fashion and curate transitional styles. Additionally, two of DeJong’s colleagues from Grivot Strategies, Kristin and Hannah, have accepted the challenge of, as she says, “wearing all the hats. I couldn’t do this without them.”
For the DeJong family, collaboration is a family affair. Erin and Kurt’s parents are heavily involved with all aspects of their lives, helping anywhere they can. Their daughter, Emma, will assist with the ongoing need for styling and fulfillment before heading off to college next year. Their sons, Austin, Chase and Eli, are always lending a helping hand, “with all the heavy lifting and modifications to our office for inventory,” says DeJong.
DeJong’s mission with Caroline’s Boutique is to cater to women of all ages, shapes and seasons. “When a woman is dressed confidently, she carries herself differently,” she says, adding that fashion and personal style are important and empowering. “I want our clientele to experience real women with busy lives modeling our clothes, wearing transitional pieces, but also fun, bold styles and patterns, taking the chance on themselves and embracing how they show up in the world.”
On Sunday, November 12, DeJong and her team will host a Sip & Shop event at the Barn at Bay Horse Inn from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. The event serves multiple purposes. It will provide an opportunity to discount their current inventory, showcase their new ideas and styles, and, most importantly, engage with the community. They will launch a contest inviting people to contribute ideas for the boutique’s rebrand in 2024.
“We’re asking all the ladies to get creative and submit naming ideas,” says DeJong. “If we pick a name that is submitted, the winner will receive a $500 gift card to the boutique.”
More details will be provided on their website and social media handles, and of course at the Sip & Shop event.
The story of what is currently named Caroline’s Boutique is not just about launching a business. It represents the pursuit of dreams while adapting to every new stage of life. DeJong’s journey, like her boutique, is a testament to the bond of family, the support of friends, and sharing your dreams with a great community.