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Boston Common - Niche Media - A side of Boston that's anything but common.

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style setter Rebecca Penner and Laura Macris, best friends and business partners at Crush get a crush on back bay BEACON HILL HAS LONG HAD A LOVE AFFAIR WITH THIS EDGY BOUTIQUE, NOW WITH A NEW OUTPOST ON NEWBURY STREET. by alyssa giacobbe photography by joel benjamin B ack in high school, Laura Macris and Rebecca Penner were the sort of best friends young adult novels are made of—total opposites and entirely inseparable. Penner, tall and very blonde, was the more outgoing of the duo, while Macris was petite and soft-spoken. Back then, they shared an adventurous style and two personal goals. The first: to attend small, liberal-arts colleges. ("We actually thought about going to the same school but knew that all our friends would make fun of us," admits Penner.) The second, to one day open a clothing boutique that would represent their collective personalities: playful yet polished, with the occasional daring curveball. After spending four years at different colleges, the friends moved to Boston and became roommates in Beacon Hill. Penner spent those first few years putting her economics degree to use at PricewaterhouseCoopers, until finally admitting she hated finance, especially the clothes. (Penner counts Carrie Bradshaw as her style icon. "I know she's fictional," she says, "but her 74 creativity and fearlessness are unparalleled!"). She quit and took a job at Calypso St. Barths in Back Bay, then one managing the Harvard Square and Coolidge Corner locations of Mint Julep. Eventually she convinced Macris to abandon her job in PR, and in 2007 they opened Crush Boutique in Beacon Hill, a store that feels like your most fun friend's closet. In the five years since, Penner and Macris, both now 30, have made working in retail, which can be grueling even in the best economy, look impossibly easy. Crush was a near instant success among the neighbor- hood's young professionals—not to mention celebs like Anne Hathaway, Debra Messing, and Britney and Jamie Lynn Spears—who were drawn to the duo's girly-preppy aesthetic just as other in-town retailers were running in the opposite direction. It's rare to find black in the store. "From the start, we knew we wanted to carry clothes that were on-trend, fun, different, and edgy—but not too edgy," says Penner. The racks of flirty statement pieces and everyday staples from brands like Wink NYC, Madison Marcus, and

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