Project Runway season four contestant Kit Pistol (left) once visited Olympia’s Sweet Life. You might consider visiting, too, now that you’ve met owner Erin Gillet (right).

Figuring you have some end-of-summer road trips on your calendar, we thought we’d go outside the city limits a bit in the next month or so. If you’re headed toward Ocean Shores or related points south and/or west, this first one is for you.

At Sweet Life in downtown Olympia, Erin Gillet delivers an unexpected, luxed-up vibe to local shoppers. Tucked among secondhand and vintage stores that peddle the ironic, indie look to Evergreen students and like-minded types, this women’s clothing store offers a dressed-up alternative to casual retro styles. Owner Erin Gillet does up the walls with peacock-spotted wallpaper and puts out an abundance of filled candy jars to prepare passersby for kicky, flowery mini-and maxi-dresses, well-cut blazers from small up-and-coming lines, and designer denim—the kind that pairs with stilettos not sneakers.

WWW: What album is playing on your store’s sound system right now?
Gillet: Born This Way by Lady Gaga

What was your first job in retail? What did you love or hate about it and how does it compare to what you do now?
My first retail job was at Betsey Johnson in Seattle. I obtained a wealth of experience about the fashion and retail industry there, which helped me prepare for ownership, management, and the merchandising of my own store. I love that I am able to make my own decisions about my store. I love going to trade shows and being able to order what I love for the season. I also love that I get to create my own window displays and merchandise the store however I want.

What’s your favorite thing in the store right now?
My favorite thing in the store right now is a Free People over-sized leopard french terry cardigan. Its amazingly comfortable and light weight. Perfect for summer and into the fall.

What do you love about your store’s neighborhood? What nearby restaurants, coffee shops, etc do you recommend?
I love the atmosphere of downtown Olympia. Everyone is friendly and knows one another. I love all of our fellow downtown businesses but a few off my favorite restaurants are Lemongrass, Acqua Via, La Taqueria, and the 5th Avenue Sandwich Shop. It’s also very convenient to be right in between Starbucks and the Batdorf and Bronson coffee shop!

What’s the weirdest thing that’s ever happened in your store?
The weirdest thing that has ever happened in the store would have to be when Kit Pistol from Project Runway came to the store for a mini Olympia-style red carpet shopping event. It helped promote the store tremendously and was a fun day for everyone.

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