Fifth-generation Vermonter Megan O’Brien said she thought Burlington needed more shopping, particularly affordable, high-quality women’s clothing. She did her part to remedy that in July when she launched Tangerine on College Street. Tangerine offers new, vintage-inspired Bohemian clothing, focusing on American-made garments from contemporary designers.
“It’s an eclectic little bundle of styles I’m hoping you can’t find anywhere else,” O’Brien said. “I try to focus on brands no one else has in Burlington, and do my own thing to offer something different.” Inventory includes dresses, tops, pants, skirts and T-shirts, as well as jackets and coats.
“Growing up here, I knew Burlington tends to be a little expensive,” O’Brien said. “I wanted to offer something to college age and young professionals — anyone who doesn’t have a lot of disposable income to spend on fashion, but still knows new trends and wants to look nice. We even have affordable formal wear. I have some beautiful $55 dresses.”
Tangerine also stocks jewelry and bags, as well as unique gifts, art, and home décor. In warmer months, the store also carries plants. “I had a whole wall this summer, and succulents were big sellers,” O’Brien said. She noted she would like to offer a selection of menswear in the future.
The store is located in a 1,500-square-foot space previously occupied by Cyclepath. O’Brien said family and friends helped with the store fit-up and she did the decorating.
“It’s much bigger than I was anticipating for my first business,” O’Brien said. “It took a bit to get into the space and fill it up, and I’m still working at making it feel more homey and complete.”
Tangerine customers range from high school girls to women in their 70s, O’Brien said. “My core market is college age to thirties, but I love all ages,” she said. “It’s fun to see mothers and daughters come in and each get something. … Tourism has been big for me, and I’m just really excited to be a part of the new energy and growth on College Street.”
The business is very personal for O’Brien. “I named the store Tangerine after the Led Zeppelin song, and it goes along with the lyrics, ‘Tangerine, tangerine, living reflection from a dream,’” she said. “Maybe a little corny, but it’s also a catchy name, fun and vibrant.”
As a high school student at Champlain Valley Union, she took a class on entrepreneurialism that required developing a business plan and competing in an “elevator speech” contest, which she won. Her idea gained further formation as a college student in Rhode Island.
“I discovered a store in Providence called NAVA (New and Vintage Apparel) that helped inspire my look,” O’Brien said. “Before that I never knew you could find an affordable item in a boutique.”
Both of O’Brien’s parents have entrepreneurial backgrounds and served as accessible mentors.
“I can always go to them with questions or concerns,” O’Brien said. “At the same time, they let me do my own thing, so it’s very much my own creative child.”
O’Brien said her business is also about community. “My passion is a community oriented place that’s comfortable and welcoming — just making women feel really good about themselves. To offer myself as kind of a friend who wants them to try something on and come out and show it off to,” she said.
Every Wednesday on social media, Tangerine posts a “Women Crush Wednesday” profile. “There are so many beautiful women here, doing amazing creative things, and I love to highlight them,” O’Brien said. “They come in, try something on, I take a picture of them, say something cool about them, and post it.”
Particularly for her college-age followers, O’Brien hopes that’s inspirational. “I want to show them that, Yeah, it’s hard and the future is unknown, but look at what these cool women are doing!”
Tangerine is located at 126 College, Suite 110 in Burlington. Contact at 802-495-5645 or www.tangerinebtv.net.