Lisa McGuire’s passion for jewelry design initially led to a lot of time on the road.
“It was just about every weekend in the summer,” said McGuire, who once sold her handmade jewelry at craft shows. “A lot of people asked me if I had a storefront. I didn’t.”
In 2019 McGuire parked the car and took the plunge. She found the perfect space for a retail store on Parmenter Street and she opened Cloth & Metal Boutique.
McGuire said she felt Middleton’s downtown was the ideal place to start her venture.
“I could see this was an up-and-coming area,” she said.
McGuire has a special talent for art and design. She studied art in college, obtaining a degree in metalsmithing. She primarily creates jewelry in sterling silver, although uses other metals like copper and gold.
The boutique showcases McGuire’s custom jewelry as well as select women’s apparel from lines that McGuire carefully sources.
“I try to have either local artists or designers from the U.S. in here,” she said. “I’m really conscious about the things that we have.”
In addition to prioritizing clothes that are made in the United States, Cloth & Metal also showcases brands focused on sustainability, regardless of where they are made.
Even the store’s hangers are made from recycled cardboard.
“It’s about being conscious of what’s going on in the world and obviously what we are doing to the Earth,” McGuire said. “If we don’t make some serious changes, we could be in some trouble down the road.”
McGuire said that her boutique is also about selling items that have enduring value.
“I want to make sure that a garment that I sell here is going to last a while,” she said. “I want to make sure these are things you can wear for years and years. Here you might pay a little more, but you are definitely going to find better quality.”
When the pandemic hit, Cloth & Metal had only been open about nine months. McGuire said it hasn’t been an easy time for the retail industry, but she already had an online store, which helped her connect with customers, even when they were unable to shop in person.
“I have a pretty good following that gave me the support that they were able to,” she said, acknowledging that many of her customers have also faced more challenging times. “Even if they just purchased one item, rather than three, as they normally would, it helped.”
McGuire said she’s made careful decisions about the items she selected to keep her inventory in line with her customer’s needs and she’s implemented enhanced cleaning and social distancing policies to keep her retail space safe.
“There are a few more steps that we have to do each day but I think it helps people feel a little more comfortable and at ease,” she said.
McGuire said she has loved getting to know her customers.
“It’s not about the purchases that they make, it’s about the relationships,” she said. “I think of them as friends.”
In the days when McGuire was working craft shows, she supplemented her income by working in sales. But she knew that one day, she would be the one who owned the store.
“I always wanted to be my own boss,” she said, after opening the boutique one recent morning. “I never wanted to go through life wondering, ‘what if?’”
About Cloth & Metal Boutique
7531 Hubbard Ave., Middleton, WI 53562
Current hours: Monday-Friday: 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; Saturday: 11 a.m.-4 p.m.; Closed on Sunday