Déjá Blue — the Cherry Creek-based boutique operated by Goodwill Industries of Denver — features highly curated fashion for both men and women. With a team of stylists and buyers, Déjá Blue links with Goodwill to bring high-end clothing and accessories at an affordable price. Described as, “like shopping in your best friend’s closet rather than a thrift store,” Déjá Blue allows Denver locals to find gently worn, high-end clothing at only a fraction of their original value.
We got to meet with Jessica Hudgins, Déjá Blue’s public relations and digital media manager, in addition to some of the curating team to learn more about what Déjá Blue does to not only bring affordable high-end trends to Denver but what the boutique also does to give back to the community through fashion.
303 Magazine: Tell me the story of Déjá Blue. How did it all get started?
Jessica Hudgins: This is our seventh year here and the whole premise was to create a whole new shopping experience for shoppers. If you’ve been into a Goodwill store, you’ll see rows and rows of racks and it can be overwhelming for some folks. So, Déjá Blue is really an opportunity to have that boutique shopping experience without the boutique prices.
Everything that we get here is from our Goodwill donation center on Sixth and Clayton which is right down the street, and we also get items donated directly to the boutique. When we were deciding to open up the boutique, the location was very important to us because we wanted to keep the donations local, which is why we’re in the Cherry Creek area which tends to be pretty affluent, so we tend to get a lot of name brand and high-end pieces.
303: How exactly does Déjá Blue Boutique connect to Goodwill?
JH: There are other Goodwill’s across the country that have boutique shops, so this is the Denver location. This is actually the only one in Colorado. The best part about it is that you can shop here and it’s just like you’re shopping at Goodwill — you’re shopping secondhand clothing. So, every time you shop or donate to Déjá Blue, it’s going right back to Goodwill’s mission programs, which help tens of thousands of Coloradans in need every year through our career development programming.
303: What does the curating process of the clothing look like?
JH: We process everything in terms of selecting the items that we want in Déjá Blue and pricing them over at one of our sister Goodwill stores because they have a bigger space to actually tag everything and go through all the clothes. But over at the Sixth and Clayton Donation Center is where we get all of our donated clothes first. The four individuals who work at Déjá Blue process and tag everything at our sister location and then bring it here. They really are the deciding factor on what gets put in the store. Most of the stuff we get directly donated to Déjá Blue will stay here because it’s usually high-end stuff, and the folks that are familiar with us know what we’re looking for. It runs like every other Goodwill, except we are more selective in the items that get sold here.
303: What does the processing team tend to look for in the items they want to be featured at Déjá Blue?
JH: We look for a lot of name brands and high-end brands — designer brands that would cost upwards of a thousand dollars if you were to buy them new. When we get those items donated, we bring them here because we’re highlighting them, and we’re really being the best stewards we can be to the donations we receive from the community. By bringing those high-end brands from the donation center around the corner to Déjá Blue, it really gives them a chance to shine and be seen here. Deja Blue can really sometimes be a stepping stone into thrifting for some people. People who shop here might then feel motivated to start thrifting and even take the leap into an original Goodwill location.
303: What is Déjá Blue’s mission?
JH: The main goal and mission for Déjá Blue is to help Coloradans get back on their feet through career development programming. We serve adults with barriers to employment, we serve individuals with disabilities, and we even help at-risk students get on track for graduation and college success and enter into the future workforce. So that’s always our goal.
We’re really putting services right back into the community. Also, especially at Déjá Blue, I think it’s important for a lot of folks who are really brand-conscious and care about the environment. You shop at big name stores and it goes right back into the landfills because it’s not high quality. So, shopping at Déjá Blue is an opportunity to get high-quality fashion pieces without having to shell out hundreds of dollars for one piece. You can get several high-end pieces at very low prices.
All photography by Madison McMullen