I must have driven up Lyndale and past Cliché a hundred times before I noticed it. It sits a short walk from Mortimer’s and Leaning Tower of Pizza, and neighbors popular watering hole, Urban Bean Coffee. Unlike its unassuming storefront, the tiny boutique's offerings feel edgy and eclectic. Ten years ago, the brick-faced, pocket-sized lot stood vacant. Joshua and Delayna Sundberg had just turned 26 years old and already felt burnt out from careers that didn't satisfy their creativity. With an impulsive idea and empty design portfolios, they quit their jobs. They went all-in and opened Cliché, a contemporary women’s clothing boutique.
Today, Lyndale traffic and parking tend to conceal Cliché's entrance. A small sign, suspended over the sidewalk, invites guests to explore unique pieces that playfully challenge the boutique’s namesake. Inside, racks are ornamented with rompers, oversized sweaters, and statement jewelry designed by local artists. The space perfectly embodies the Sundbergs' decade-old vision.
Inspired by Cliché’s playful aesthetic, I sat down with Joshua to find out more about the shop.
Joshua, did you always dream of opening a clothing boutique?
Surprisingly, no! Before opening Cliché, I was in social work, and my wife and business partner, Delayna, was in the home loan business. Neither of us had ever worked in retail. What we did have were marketing backgrounds, and we are both hard workers. The idea sprang from of our love of clothing, and desire to do something risky and creative. Also, I had just turned 26, and I think it was kind of a quarter life crisis thing!
Do you have any advice for small, start-up businesses in the Twin Cities?
Make sure it's something you really want to do. Starting a business was more work than we ever thought. Consult with experts in your field, develop a business plan, and make sure you have enough capital.
How has Cliché evolved over the years, and what differentiates you from other boutiques in the Minneapolis fashion scene?
When we started, we really didn't know what we were doing. It was kind of a big experiment, but over the years we've refined Cliché to the place we are now. I'm happy with that place, but there's always room to improve. I think what sets us apart is our willingness to not always play it safe or pander to Midwest sensibilities. I think another big strength is that we're not completely tied down to one style. I credit Delayna, our head buyer, with that. Hopefully you'll never be bored by what we offer from one season to the next.
A lot of talented designers reside in the Twin Cities. Sticking with your local approach, how do you narrow down what to offer at Cliché?
The first thing we look for when selecting inventory is quality. That is something we really pride ourselves in! Also, the brand has to fit our story.
Does Cliché have any exciting events coming up?
At the beginning of the year we try to come up with events that will really inspire people, and we try to keep things fresh and exciting. We are throwing a trunk show for beloved local jewelry designer, Larissa Loden, on December 13 from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm. She will be showing her favorite work along with some never seen before, one of a kind pieces. Also, we will have hot apple cider and a DJ.
With the holidays just around the corner do you have any gift recommendations?
We have a lot of big, cozy cardigans that I think always make great gifts, and we have some amazing scarves from local heritage brand, Faribault Woolen Mill Co. We also have one of the biggest selection of handmade jewelry in the Twin Cities!