Feel Good, Look Good: Blue Hydrangea Boutique

Blue Hydrangea, a women's clothing boutique in High Point, NC.

When it comes to fashion selections, Elissa Porter has always had a bit of a magic touch. She grew up working in and co-managing retail stores in the Triad, and after graduating from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro having studied textiles and design, Elissa knew she wanted to bring her love of fashion and design to High Point. Her first job after college was managing Cato on South Main Street in High Point, and eventually, she became a buyer for a shop in Lexington. After buying for that company, as well as buying for a men’s fashion company in Greensboro, Elissa realized where her greatest strengths lied. 

“I'm very good at really researching the customers and finding what they like," she explains. Listening to her customers, talking and interacting with them, and surprising them with selections they wouldn’t have chosen for themselves was Elissa’s superpower – no matter the market or style.  

Elissa Porter, owner of Blue Hydrangea Boutique stands in front of her sign in her store in High Point, NC.
Elissa Porter, owner of Blue Hydrangea Boutique

“I realized I would love to have my own boutique because I had always worked for other people,” Elissa says. And while she was grateful for her experiences, she wondered what it would be like to set her own buying vision for her own customer base.  

Elissa’s husband, who is also a business owner, was the biggest supporter of Elissa’s dream. She had poured time and energy into helping him launch his business and one day, he told Elissa it was her turn. 

“Now that his business had grown, he said, 'It’s time for your dream – to start the boutique that you've always wanted,'" she remembers.  

And Elissa knew that to build a business – particularly a retail fashion business – she would need to scale up slowly. So she started by collaborating with the community to host some pop-ups with a limited selection of items. She worked with Brown Truck Brewery, the Brewer’s Kettle, and The Market to put her selections in front of customers. And soon, Elissa had grown a loyal customer base that resonated with her boho and effortless styles.  

And while Elissa had spent time in Jamestown, Lexington, and Greensboro, she realized that the community of High Point was unparalleled. The support she received from other small business owners and community members left her certain that High Point is where she wanted to plant a flag in the ground for her boutique. 

“This is where I want to be,” she recalls deciding. When the storefront at 120 West Lexington Avenue became available, Elissa decided to jump on it. And the name, Blue Hydrangea, was a no brainer.  

Elissa Porter, owner of Blue Hydrangea Boutique arranges clothes.
Blue Hydrangea Boutique - 120 West Lexington Avenue, Suite 104
Blue Hydrangea Boutique - 120 West Lexington Avenue, Suite 104
Elissa holds a bouquet of blue hydrangeas in front of her boutique in High Point.

“Hydrangea isn’t easy to spell,” Elissa jokes, noting how many people told her to give her boutique an easy name, “but it just felt right... My mother’s favorite flower was a blue hydrangea.”  

Her mother, who taught high school at T.W. Andrews High School for 21 years, passed away from breast cancer. To Elissa, this was a way to honor her mother and keep her memory with her at the boutique.  

In fact, Elissa hopes to be an educator of sorts to the girls who work in her shop, mentoring them in the same way she was taught when she worked in retail stores at their age. 

“For their first job experience, it’s important for them to learn,” Elissa explains. "I've managed teams, so I enjoy mentoring. It’s great to see them take their first job and learn from it."  

And Elissa teaches each of her sales associates to cultivate a specific atmosphere in her store. She wants the experience for customers to be fun, easy-going, and like girlfriends shopping together, so her team members are trained to be part stylist, part encouraging friend.  

“We’re going to find you a top to match that skirt, and find you a jacket to throw on over it, or find earrings to go with it,” Elissa says, as she and her team love helping ladies find an ensemble that makes them feel confident and beautiful. “We want to help you put something together that you wouldn't have thought of.”  

While Elissa listens and takes feedback from her growing customer base in High Point, she also knows how to push her customers out of their style box to find a piece that they love. Her goal was to create a space where women of a variety of ages with a variety of lifestyles could find something that works for them. She helps outfit lots of teachers who need comfortable, convenient clothes for their long days with their kiddos, but still want to be fun and fashionable.  

A shopper buys an item at Blue Hydrangea Boutique.

“Women love to look cute and fashionable, but they want the clothes to fit their body types and their stage of life,” Elissa explains. “We want you to find something you love that makes you feel good too!”

Elissa also laughs when she talks about the husbands and boyfriends who get dragged into the store with their partners to pick out clothes.

“When my customers come in, sometimes I'll pour them a glass of wine, but I actually keep some beers in the refrigerator too,” Elissa says. She recalls one instance when a man came in with his girlfriend and looked especially tired. Elissa offered to let him sit in their lounge area and asked if he’d like a beer while he waited.

"He said, ‘Would I like a beer? I would love a beer!’” Elissa recalls, laughing. Ever since then, this gentleman comes in on a regular basis to buy gifts for his girlfriend and to chat with the staff, claiming it the “best boutique ever” for offering him a beer.

"I have to make sure the men are happy too," Elissa teases.

Earrings hanging on a jewelery stand.

Because ultimately, Elissa wants Blue Hydrangea to be a true community boutique, filled with people who are more like friends than customers.  

“During tough times, people look to be local in their community,” Elissa explains, noting how opening during the pandemic influenced how she sees local shopping now. Unlike big chain stores, the money made at local shops goes directly back to the owner and the employees, who are members of the community. “This is my income to support my family.”  

Biz_Blue Hydrangea1_082522
Biz_Blue Hydrangea9_082522

Elissa also admires how welcoming and inviting the High Point small business community has been towards her. Her neighbors at Humbled Warriors Yoga collaborate with her for pop-ups and girl’s nights, and other boutiques like Monkee’s, Cindy Lou’s, and The Blooming Board have found ways to collaborate with her as well. Rather than viewing one another as competition, Elissa loves that boutique owners can come together to point customers towards a place that has their specific styles, tastes, and merchandise.  

“We’re all different enough that we all kind flow nicely together,” she says.  

Because Elissa knows, much like a well-put-together ensemble, a community is crafted from beautiful pieces coming together to create a whole.  


Discover our High Points, 

The HPD Team

Photography by Anna Danielle Photography

Making High Point Discovered Possible

High Point Discovered is a 501(c)3 – a non-profit that exists solely for the growth and betterment of our city. Our staff of talented writers, photographers, and creatives works hard to tell the stories of our city so that you can connect to businesses that need you as patrons, non-profits that need you as givers, and – most importantly – neighbors that need you as friends. Our content is always free to our readers (that's you!) and free to the incredible entrepreneurs, artists, educators, and changemakers we feature. 
We exist to communicate the stories of our city to connect our citizens and catalyze economic growth. But we need your help to continue. When you give to High Point Discovered, you're giving to support citizens – just like the ones in this story – who are making the city we call home better.
If you enjoy the content brought to you by High Point Discovered, consider giving today.