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Downtown boutique exudes an attitude

Co-owner of Accent on Attitude won't sell anything she doesn't like
by: Jim Clark Chris and Judy Wylie are the owners of Accent On Attitude in downtown Gresham.

Defining one's personal style is all about accenting your attitude.

And if making a statement involves a signature fragrance, designer handbag or trendy jewelry, an eclectic boutique in downtown Gresham is all about you.

'My goal is to make shopping here a fun experience,' said Judy Wylie, co-owner of Accent on Attitude on Northwest Second Street. 'I've always loved fashion, and I won't sell something I don't like. So we have something here for every taste and budget.'

Judy and her husband, Chris, opened the stylish shop in July, taking aim at local fashionistas with an eye for the chic and in vogue. Handbags from top names such as Nicole Lee and Baggallini mingle with locally made hand-dyed scarves and hats. Brand-name skin care products, jewelry and baubles with flair make Accent on Attitude the total package for accessories with a 'tude.

Some may remember Judy from a tidy corner at the Alter Ego Salon a couple doors down from her new shop. For more than six years, she sold handbags, jewelry and accessories to salon clients on a part-time basis. But after retiring from the city of Gresham's Building Department last July, Judy decided to take her passion for fashion to a second full-time career.

'This has been my dream forever,' she said. 'I started at the salon to build my customer base. So when I went to the storefront, I already had my regular customers and a lot of new customers.'

Chris is no stranger to the fashion scene himself. He spent several years in the audio-visual and event planning industry, frequently filming fashion shows, and still does freelance work. Working side-by-side with his wife, in a predominantly feminine environment, isn't intimidating, he said, and does have its perks.

'I do the display work and Judy does the ordering,' Chris said. 'It's a good arrangement. We're working to expand our men's accessory lines, and through that, I found the skull rings I like. We don't carry those, though.'

Satisfying a hunger for bling on a tight budget is any diva's nightmare. But remaining on the cutting edge of style usually takes a back seat when forced to choose between a new necklace and gas for the car.

Accent on Attitude is set up to accommodate every price range, from 89 cents to more than $500. Additionally, Judy made it her mission to stock the store's shelves items that can be used in multiple ways.

'With the economy the way it is, people have to work with what they have,' she said. 'Interchangeability in fashion is a big trend right now. We see it in handbags, jewelry, boot toppers. You can change the look of what you're wearing or carrying with interchangeable pieces.'

For example, the store features a line of handbags designed around changeable shells. After purchasing the bag's base, a variety of exterior coverings can be used to alter the look of the handbag for seasonal or time-of-day use.

Likewise, necklaces, earrings and bracelets can be changed from dressy to casual to funky just by swapping the magnetic centerpiece. Called Magnabilities, the line features an extensive collection of jewels and painted glass beads capable of creating a one-of-a-kind style statement.

Accent on Attitude is also a gem for the downtown core area, embellishing on a recent influx of unique and diverse businesses. Like so many new merchants, the Wylies participated in the city's Garage to Storefront Program, which waives permit fees to expedite small business expansion. The couple admitted that opening a new storefront in the current economy required a leap of faith, but they found the camaraderie among surrounding merchants to be worth the risk.

'Everybody who is in business now has worked for somebody else,' Chris said. 'We don't want to go back to working for someone else, so we help each other. We tell our customers where to find something they're looking for, and other businesses do the same for us. Everybody is really helpful here.'

The store may be accessorizing local fashionistas, but the longtime Gresham residents also believe in supporting those within the community. Judy purchases hand-painted greeting cards, aprons and silk scarves from local artists, and pursues a strong mission for charitable giving. Many of her designer handbags have also made their way to fundraising auctions at local high schools, SnowCap and other organizations.

'We like to say we're donating to the community one handbag at a time,' Judy said, laughing. 'I never turn anyone away. Never, ever. This is what we want to do because we can.'

Accent on Attitude, it seems, is a goldmine for not just style mavens but the community as well.

'I just want people to have what they want, and I want to make that possible,' Judy said. 'It's such a good feeling to be so supported by other businesses and our customers. There's something for everybody here.'

Fun for fashionistas

Who: Accent on Attitude, 20 N.W. Second St., Gresham

What: Designer handbags, fragrances, gift items, skin care, jewelry and men's accessories

Hours: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. Closed Sunday and Monday.

Info: 503-490-2381 or accentonattitude.com