Temple alumnae-run boutique goes from side hustle to success

Lily Romanowski and Tori Tucci began their business sharing essential oil blends on Instagram

Lily Romanowski (left,) a 2018 printmaking alumnus, and Tori Tucci (right,) a 2017 english and education double major, manage the online clothing store Rize Boutique. | COURTESY / RIZE BOUTIQUE

After sharing both a love of clothes and actual clothing during their time at Temple, opening an online boutique seemed like a no-brainer for alumnae Lily Romanowski and Tori Tucci.

“We were neighbors and on the weekends she’d come over and borrow stuff from my closet and I’d borrow clothes from her closet,” Romanowski said. “We always loved all that sort of stuff, so we just took that idea and ran with it.”

Since graduating in 2018 and 2017, respectively, Romanowski and Tucci opened their own online boutique, Rize, in May 2018. The pair decided to pursue the idea after realizing they both didn’t want to continue in the field of their chosen majors.

The boutique, which sells clothing, jewelry and essentials oils, opened following Romanowski’s graduation. To prepare, she spent the majority of her senior year working with Tucci to acquire business licenses and order inventory

The pair initially hoped to have a storefront, but decided to hold off after experiencing the flexibility and success of an online store.

“There’s so much freedom to online business, there’s really no strings, you can be anywhere, I could be on vacation and working, we love the freedom it’s provided us,” Romanowski said. “We both think it would be great to have a store one day, but we’re not in a rush.”

During her time at Temple, printmaking major Romanowski began working as a distributor for essential oils company Young Living. She and Tucci, an English and education double major, would create oil blends to share on Romanowski’s essential oils Instagram page.

“Lily and I were both in a place where we were realizing we didn’t really want to do what we were going to school for,” Tucci said. “Any down time we had or pretty much any chance we could take to not do something school related we would take that opportunity to let our creative side show.”

“It was crazy, I literally graduated and then the next day the site was launched and we all of a sudden had this business that needed to be ran,” Romanowski said.

“She [Romanowski] would travel up to New Jersey every weekend and we’d cram all that we could into those two days, she really hustled,” Tucci said. “Sometimes we look back and ask ourselves, ‘How the hell did we do that?’”    

Tucci and Romanowski hand-pick and model their clothes, which they said represent the places the pair would shop together like Urban Outfitters and Free People.

Maggie McCormack, a 22-year-old fashion blogger from New York, discovered Rize after the boutique’s account followed her on instagram.

“Rize is a very special brand, they have pieces that can work for so many different types of styles, I love that you can take any item from Rize and make five different looks with it,” McCormack said.

McCormack believes Romanowski and Tucci’s drive makes the brand unique.

“I think the message behind Rize and how these two amazing girls turned their dreams into a reality is something very special that a lot of people can identify with and strive to do themselves,” McCormack said.  

Romanowski said that Rize’s success depends on the pair’s creativity, as their social media pages need new looks uploaded at least twice a day.

“With social media we’ll post and be consistent but we can’t help what days will be slow and when we’re not getting engagement because there’s this algorithm that we always have to combat by being constantly creative and unique,” Romanowski said.

For now, Romanowski and Tucci said they’re happy where they are and excited to see what the future holds for Rize.

“I get to keep building this business and continue to grow with my best friend, and for our first year we are extremely proud of what we’ve done,” Romanowski said.

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