Living the dream; The original Girls in Pearls
By Kris Leonhardt
STEVENS POINT – Margaret O’Connor-Govett grew up in a small rural community in northern Illinois.
“I am the middle child of a family of nine children. My mother was a stay at home mom and my father was the local veterinarian,” O’Connor-Govett recalled.
Margaret began her college career at the University of Illinois, but did not graduate until years later, when she obtained a degree at the age of 40.
But underlying all of that was a dream.
“I had been dreaming of this boutique for years. I knew that someday I would do it, I just didn’t know how, when, or where. I spent many years as a single parent, so I needed the security in my career. After my daughters completed their education and were living their lives; and with the loving support of my now husband, daughters, and family, it finally happened,” she said.
“So putting it all together, was fairly easy for me. I knew what I wanted it to look like and what I wanted it to be – the colors, the lighting – it was just a matter of breathing life into it, bringing it to life.
“I spent hours sitting downtown and watching the women, what they were wearing – colors, fabrics, styles, patterns, color – wools, linens?”
The dream became reality in September 2012, when she opened “Girls in Pearls” boutique in downtown Stevens Point.
“I told my husband, if I can’t be downtown, I’m not going to do it,” she added.
Margaret said that she is thrilled with the revival movement to bring downtown areas back to the heart of retail shopping.
“(Downtowns) are the heartbeat of communities. I have always been a downtown girl, preferring to shop in small shops – also known as boutiques. Rarely do I go into a big box store, unless it is just too look around to see what they are doing,” she explained.
O’Connor-Govett’s shop is unique in what she offers and how she handles her stock.
“Everything in my boutique is based on comfort, drape and fit to all body shapes. I can fit a Size 2; I can fit a Size 2x and everything looks fabulous. I have no zippers or snaps in my store, in regards to pants, capris, and shorts,” she said.
“I only buy one of each size, and when that is gone, it is gone and we are on to the next thing. Being in a small town, that is very important to me. I want women to know when they leave here, they are not going to meet themselves on the sidewalk, at a party; they are unique in their style.
“At the end of a season, my leftover items are donated. We have local shelters who need sweaters, coats, jackets, scarves. My childhood church has a resale shop where the proceeds go to the area churches to help those in need.”
Margaret’s husband, Bob is a retired UWSP professor. Her daughter, Shayna and husband Kent live in Las Cruces, NM, with twin daughters, Nora and Carolina. Margaret’s middle daughter, Hannah and her husband, Matt live in Sun Prairie. Her youngest daughter, Olivia and her husband, Zach live in Combined Locks, with sons – Lincoln and twins, Louis and Leo.
But, as the boutique’s website says there cannot be an ending to the story without crediting Margaret’s mother Dorothy.
“With her wondrous beauty and grace, she has always taught me, through example, to live life with dignity, grace, fearlessness and style,” Margaret’s website says.
“I thank her for her wondrous beauty and grace,” Margaret adds. “For teaching me through example – her commitment to her faith, to her family and to her community. For showing me how to live life with dignity, grace, brains, fearlessness, and style. She is the original ‘Girl in Pearls.’”
While Girls in Pearls is temporarily closed during the COVID-19 directives, Margaret will open her doors again when the orders are lifted.
To learn more, visit https://girlsinpearlsboutique.com.