Alumni Spotlight: Autumn Pivont Paluch


Autumn Paluch opened The Leaf Boutique in 2017 alongside her daughters Payton and Landry. | IG: @shoptheleaf

“Owning a boutique was always something I knew I wanted to do, but the timing was never right.” Autumn Pivont Paluch, Marshall alumna and owner of The Leaf Boutique, said. “I had three children, and they were young and had numerous activities and sports. When my daughters were in college, they actually convinced me.”  

Paluch grew up in Hinton, West Virginia before attending Bauder Fashion College in Atlanta, Georgia. She then transferred to Marshall where she graduated in 1991 in Fashion Merchandising. Paluch currently resides in Raleigh, North Carolina with her husband, son, and two daughters.  

On September 19, 2017, Paluch opened The Leaf Boutique alongside her daughters Payton and Landry. 

Paluch and her two daughters pose in front of their boutique on wheels. | IG: @shoptheleaf

“Then, the timing was just right. We had moved to Raleigh and I was like ‘yeah I think we can do this,’” said Paluch, “Basically, it was just sitting around the kitchen table, talking about it, and next thing you know, we were hiring a graphic designer to do a logo, doing the website, and getting a URL set up. We literally just did it all in just a couple of weeks.” 

Inspiration for their business name came from a project that Paluch created during her time at Marshall. The trio reworked the name and crafted their business motto. “Be a trendsetter every season.” 

“When I was in college, I had to design my own store and logo. I was going to name it ‘Autumn’s Leaf’. When we decided to do this together, we changed it to ‘The Leaf Boutique’. It goes with our motto, and the leaves change with every season and so do the clothes. We try to make all of our customers the trendsetter,” said Paluch. 

Though, this is not the first business Paluch’s family has owned and operated. Her grandmother owned her own business, “Tots and Teens” in Hinton. Her mother is still running the Hinton Floral & Gift, and her father owns the Pivont Funeral Home that he runs alongside his brother.  

From her parents, Paluch credits her for their emphasis on creating personal connection with their customers and drive for their customers’ satisfaction.  

“My parents go above and beyond for everyone, so they have just kind of instilled that in me,” said Paluch, “We try to do the same, like if a customer sends us a DM or calls us asking when their item is going to ship, and they have a wedding or a birthday party, we try to get it there.”  

Another personal piece of their brand is their color scheme. Purple is not only Paluch’s favorite color, it was also her grandmother’s favorite.  

“We have this bright purple couch on the bus, so I just know that if she were still living she would be sitting right on that purple couch,” said Paluch, “She worked until she was 96 and passed away at 100. She would have loved to see me and the girls following in her footsteps.” 

In addition to their website, Paluch and her daughters travel in their Leaf Bus, a 26 passenger van that they renovated in April of 2019 to take to shows and host their pop-up shops. It is fully furnished with a fitting room, multiple racks for clothes, an armoire showcasing their jewelry and accessories, and a the purple couch. They have traveled across North Carolina and brought the bus back to West Virginia, but the farthest they have traveled was for a pop-up shop in Ashland, Kentucky where Paluch had lived for 12 years. In addition to taking the bus to shows, they travel to different universities for pop-up shops and partnering with sororities, where they give 10% of the proceeds to that sorority’s philanthropy. 

Paluch was a member of the Alpha Xi Delta at Marshall, and her oldest daughter, Payton, also attended the same sorority. The younger daughter, Landry, is an Alpha Delta Pi member at East Carolina University  

“That is always a good cause to donate back to the different philanthropies and we love to be able to do that,” Paluch said. 

Paluch’s favorite place to take the bus and her daughters is back home to Hinton.  

“When I take the bus to Hinton, I just love giving back to that community. I get to see who I went to high school with, my mom’s friends, and everybody knows everyone,” Paluch said. 

“They have a couple little small boutiques there, but they don’t have anything like the bus, so when I pull into town, they just get really excited.” 

They have also traveled to Girl Tribe in Charlotte, NC to sell their items, which was a two-day event right before the holidays and were able to merchandise in the civic center. Paluch is excited to go to the Southern Women Show in Raleigh this year, since it was cancelled last year due to the pandemic. 

Paluch and her daughters have their own daily jobs as owners of a small business. Paluch covers the business’ finances, stays on top of inventory, and drives the bus. Her older daughter Payton does the designing of their email newsletters and flyers on their social media pages and website. Her younger daughter Landry handles the editing of all the images that go on their website and social media pages and editing TikToks. 

“But we all do the buying, whether we do it at market, or a lot of times vendors will Facetime us from their showroom and show us new pieces,” said Paluch, “We all are in the camera looking and deciding and agreeing. That is what we all do together.” 

They have gone to Atlanta for markets three to four times a year to meet vendors and look for new pieces to add to their boutique and will be going to Dallas for the first time this year. 

One special tradition that they have is to start each year with a blank map of the United States to color in each state that they get an order from. They restart each year to be able to look back and see how their business has grown and expanded across the country. They even send a free gift to the first customer from a state that they have not colored in yet.  

“So far this year, we have shipped to 26 states. We get so excited, like last night right while we were packing, and we got a sale from Illinois. We all screamed and colored it in, so we know what states we have shipped to so far and which ones we still need to color,” said Paluch, “It is just so fun when we are all home and something like that happens that we can share that moment.” 

Payton and Landry handle all social media for their business, from managing their Instagram to staying up-to-date on the latest TikTok trends. They also do a majority of the modeling for the website, with occasional new friends and part-time models. They reach out and work with various social media influencers across these platforms to market and advertise their shop. 

The two daughters, Payton and Landry, pose for a photo at the Atlanta market. | IG: @shoptheleaf

“We are constantly going through our personal feeds and looking at what other boutiques and influencers are doing, like different Instagram story ideas with so many filters to choose from,” Payton Paluch said. “I am always going through and saving stuff on my personal account and on our boutique account for inspiration.”  

Creating that personal connection through their social media as well, showing behind the scenes videos and images, posting photos of themselves at events with the bus and at events to take a break from solo product photos. Their social media pages also act as their main form of advertising.  

“We like to show our daily life on our social media, like being real and down to earth. Like one time Landry was steaming some new arrivals and she burnt her arm so bad, so she put that on our story to announce new arrivals that would be in the bus but also showing that she had burnt her arm so bad trying to get it all ready,” Payton laughed. “Just being ourselves and showing the good and bad, so it is not just us always selling our clothes.”  

They are now actively looking for a small storefront to open up a smaller version of their shop, while still keeping the online store and the Leaf Bus to travel in.  

“We’ve grown a lot in 4 years. I want it to be small and quaint,” said Paluch, “I think it is time and both of my girls have graduated from college. I think we’re ready for it.” 

They have already rented out a small space on a local salon this past May and are working with the salon owner to expand the partnership. 

Abby Hanlon can be reached at [email protected].