Jill Pearson’s carefully curated lifestyle boutique fills every go-to gifting need with its stunning artisanal wares.
BY: Sara Smola
Located on progressive Holly Street, this darling boutique, run by Pasadena resident Jill Pearson, is stocked chock full of artisanal home goods, art and dainty jewelry. In the age of the reign of the big box shops, Homage is a welcome haven tucked away on charming Holly Street, where independent shops and eateries are aplenty. Homage’s eclectic mix of wares from local designers and emerging artists in the community are handpicked by Pearson’s well-trained eye for design. From intricate beaded bracelets, sweet smelling soaps and lotions to dainty necklaces and funky ceramics, Homage is stocked with perfect presents for anyone on your list—including (or perhaps, especially) yourself.
From the shop’s conception, Pearson knew she wanted to feature local artists in the community and carefully crafted goods by local artisans. “The vision was really clear from the minute that we started and so far it’s working out,” Pearson says. The Pasadena community agrees; though Pearson’s shop is not yet a year old, Homage has already made a name for itself as a favorite gifting go to in Pasadena.
Homage is a true family affair. Pearson’s daughter assists both in the shop and as buyer scouting inventory, while Pearson’s husband, a retail consultant, works behind the scenes to make sure everything stays on track. “I was a jewelry designer for 23 years and I mainly did wholesale. Throughout that time I had seen a lot of businesses do really well and it was something I had always wanted to do. From the time I was in high school, I knew I wanted to have my own business. I decided I really liked retail and then I married a retail consultant. It’s something that both of us wanted to do for a really long time.”
A lot of care and research goes in to Pearson’s selections for giftable items. “Because the store is so small, I have to be really careful. I have to be really choosy about what I bring in,” says Pearson. Pearson considers products based on a variety of check marks. “It’s the design aesthetic, it’s the price, it’s the designer themselves. How long they’ve been in business doesn’t necessarily matter to me because I like to work with young designers that are new and emerging.”
Many of these one of a kind gifts aren’t found anywhere else in the region. Pearson scours craft fairs, gift shows and even flea markets—all with the hope of finding a special piece that stands out. Local ceramicist, Joshua Nishimura, was one of the first lines Pearson featured in her shop and her discovery has proved to be a decorating gold mine. “I found him at a flea market which surprised me because he has a high level of artistic sense as well as quality in his work. I’m not afraid to ask anybody if they’ll do wholesale and so I did and he said yes. Since the store opened, he’s been one of the favorite lines and nobody else in Pasadena is carrying his work, which I can’t believe.”
Though Holly Street is lined with a wealth of indie shops and eateries, each shop is filled with treasures and delights of all kinds on this most charming of Pasadena streets. “I think the niche that I thought we could fill is actually one that people have been looking for. Each of the stores that sells gift-type items is so diverse and so different. We each have a different point of view and it gives people a lot of choices. There’s something special about this store that people latch onto right away and people have said, ‘This is really accessible, I could walk around here for hours.’”
Part of that accessibility is Pearson’s business savvy decision to open a storefront. “I’ve done my share of shopping on the Internet but having a brick and mortar store invites people to slow down, to make the time to connect with the people in their neighborhood, to connect with the shop owners. I think there’s a real need and real craving right now for people who want a more personal experience and who really want to come and touch things and see things and understand how they’re made. We’re really hands-on with the artist. It’s really important for me to talk about the artist when we’re selling their products. You can read about that on the Internet but I think it’s really different when you have the one on-one experience with someone who talks passionately about that.”
Despite Pearson’s true passion for her business, there’s one thing that matters more to her—spending time with her family. As any woman juggling a career and family will tell you, it’s not easy. But thanks to Pearson’s entrepreneurial endeavor, she has the flexibility to make time for those special moments. “Now that my daughter is 19, it’s a lot easier. When I had my wholesale business, it was a lot harder. I was able to afford childcare but it was hard. One of the things about having your own business is the flexibility. Especially when you have a family so that you can schedule things accordingly and that’s something that’s pretty priceless.”