By Matt Coutu
Much like the fictional Cheshire Cat character from Alice in Wonderland, the clothing store in downtown Montpelier, can be a tad difficult to find. Located in a back alley on Elm Street, adjacent to the Tulsi Tea Room, you can’t help but remember the namesake when you enter the building, and immediately begin to smile.
The business is owned and operated by Lucy Ferrada, where she has designed and sold her clothing since 2004. Lining the walls currently are a variety of different designs all highlighting her seasonal winter line. Each piece is of a particular quality, that screams but one word, exclusive. When shoppers purchase an article of clothing at the Cheshire Cat, they are not simply buying apparel, they are purchasing a piece of art.
“I always worked independently in one way or another,” says Ferrada. “Prior to owning my own business, I was a real estate broker for a number of years, and that felt fairly independent. I think it was always hard to imagine not running my own schedule.”
Prior to opening the Cheshire Cat, Ferrada was proprietor of the national children’s clothing brand, Cow & Lizard, which was sold after 15 years in 2003. The company began in Massachusetts before moving to Vermont.
Creating a sense of harmony with selling one-of-a-kind attire, the Cheshire Cat participates in Art Walk on a month-to-month basis. The current exhibit is a Fiber Art Extravaganza, which will be on display through December.
“Art Walk is a downtown Montpelier event that we have participated in since its beginning,” Ferrada said. “Rob and Mary Jo from the Lazy Pear Gallery, and a few of us got together to create a little bit more awareness of art in Vermont and Montpelier. Since then, it has become a great event that supports local artists. Whenever we participate, we invite the artists to come to the store, and have wine and cheese. People are welcome to come and meet the artists. We often feature their work for about a month.”
Ferrada has been designing her own clothing for over 25 years, and sees no sign of slowing down. Her vision when beginning the Cheshire Cat was to continue working with clothing design, alongside the addition of craft and folk art. Since establishing the business, the boutique has made great strides towards what she initially envisioned, replacing children’s clothing with her own unique style of contemporary adult fashion.
In addition to manufacturing her own clothing line at the Cheshire Cat, Ferrada also takes her designs on the road to craft shows throughout New England. The local craft show that is most frequently attended is the Vermont Hand Crafters Show in Burlington, while others primarily take place in Massachusetts.
As a frequent world traveler, Ferrada continuously brings exotic fashion designs back from foreign countries, which can easily be seen in the work she creates. In the future, Ferrada hopes to see the Cheshire Cat maintain the integrity of its current state, while also evolving as her own taste changes.
The store is located at 28 Elm St. in Montpelier, and is open Mondays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.