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Bluffs boutique has a fair and worldly air

At Illume, vintage jewelry joins bright clothing made in coastal Kenya, wall hangings from India, bedspreads from Guatemala and candles from Australia.


At Illume, vintage jewelry joins bright clothing made in coastal Kenya, wall hangings from India, bedspreads from Guatemala and candles from Australia.

BELLEAIR BLUFFS — Combining beautiful clothes with preserving the planet: That's the mission of a new eco-friendly boutique called Illume.

Owner Susan Swander specializes in things made according to international fair trade practices, which provides work that preserves the environment and pays fair wages.

"I carry fair trade things that are made in small villages, mostly by women, in Africa and India," Swander said.

Illume also features a large collection of antique and vintage jewelry and a small vintage clothing section. Even the hangers are made of recycled paper and printed with vegetable ink.

"Green is on everyone's mind," Swander said, "but many people don't know how to integrate it into their lives. They can come here and see nice things, see pretty first and get environmental as a bonus."

Swander owned an antique store and Caribbean-style restaurant in High Springs before moving here years ago to care for her dying mother, Rita Swander, who served for a number of years on the Redington Shores Board of Adjustment.

What clothing lines do you carry?

Deborah Lindquist, whose clients include Hollywood personalities. Her clothing is made of recycled cashmere, kimonos and saris, vintage silk scarves and such materials as hemp, organic cotton and wool. Her corsets, dresses, caftans and cashmere sweaters at Illume range from $60 to $600.

Rene Geneva, who also designs for high-fashion clients, has lines that include evening wear, wedding gowns, dresses and coats made from hemp blends, silk, cotton and Tencel that's made of wood pulp. In stores, skirts and tops range from $75 to $120.

Lalesso, a company headed by two young women, supports the cotton and textile industry in coastal Kenya, uses local seamstresses and even young beach boys to carve buttons from old coconuts. The clothing is made with vibrantly colored and patterned cotton, a traditional African cloth named lesso. Store prices range from $50 to $150.

What are some of the other items in the store?

A beekeeper in Australia makes the Northern Light candles of pure beeswax. There are garden umbrellas for patio and terrace that are made in India of handwoven cotton and decorated with crocheting and bangles. I also have colorful square-base shoulder bags made of recycled embroidery patches and Tree of Life wall hangings, both made in India, and pillows and bedspreads made in Guatemala.

Why did you start this business?

My mother always wanted to open a little store like this. This is in her honor. It's all about her. She was environmentally conscious, thrifty and ate healthy. She loved to garden and ballroom dance and always wore vintage jewelry when she danced. She was very classy and would love this.

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Illume is at 784 Indian Rocks Road, Belleair Bluffs. Hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Call (727) 474-3770.

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Bluffs boutique has a fair and worldly air 07/03/08 [Last modified: Thursday, July 3, 2008 9:23pm]
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