Oak Knoll Royal Boutique celebrates 30th year of giving back

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SUMMIT, NJ — Thirty years ago, parents of students at Oak Knoll in Summit wanted a vendor event. And they were the catalysts to make it happen.

From Thursday, Nov. 2, through Saturday, Nov. 4, the Oak Knoll Royal Boutique was hosted in the Tisdall Hall Gymnasium at Oak Knoll School of the Holy Child. More than 35 vendors offered an array of unique items such as clothing for men, women and children; toys and games; elegant jewelry; whimsical purses; belts; knitwear; home goods; monogramed items; holiday gifts; books; ties; ornaments; specialty food items and so much more. The Royal Café was open with volunteers serving homemade goods baked by families, with some outsourced. Twenty-five percent of proceeds go back to the school.

Cynthia Prewitt, director of Institutional Advancement, watched the boutique grow from the very beginning. She’s lived in Summit for 36 years and currently lives in Berkeley Heights. “It’s great to see the alumni and past parents come back to the school,” she said.
Ryan Kent of Soxfords designs socks that specialize in embroidery imagery. He said he feels his work gives men a connection without a “novelty look.”

Emily Gunselman of Birch House Candle in Short Hills imports candles that are clean, made of soy and have indulgent scents. “I love how everybody is so happy and friendly,” she said. “You feel the joy for the holidays. It [the event] makes you ready.”

Melanie DePoortere of Rosary is the Way was selling religious jewelry and saint bracelets. It was her first time at the event and was keen on the sense of community.

Prosline Saint-Armand, of Hackettstown, was helping out as a volunteer and shopping for her daughter. “I love to go around and everything is brought to you,” she said. “Everyone seems so very nice.”

Jim Dratfield, creator of Petography, is a bestselling celebrity pet photographer who lives in Maplewood. His photos and books, which capture the essence of pets, were on sale. Dratfield has photographed the pets of Jennifer Aniston, who has an Australian Shepherd mix named Enzo; Elton John. who has a Cocker Spaniel; and Laura Dern, who has a Rottweiler.

Dratfield himself has two dogs — a longhaired miniature Dachshund and a mix. He said it’s his first time selling at Oak Knoll Royal Boutique. He added that he enjoys interacting with people. “Pet lovers want to share their pictures,” he said.

Aaron Canales from Elizabeth is a sales representative for Silk Road Bazaar which is based in Montclair. Products are handmade in Kyrgyzstan and based on famous celebrities and rock stars, food and animals.

Bob Morris of Oldwick Crossing in Peapack imports lanterns from Germany. He said he was inspired 15 years ago, when he attended an event in Germany and saw a lot of paper lanterns. “They were eye-catching,” he said. “Before you know it, I was importing them.”
Oak Knoll School of the Holy Child is an independent Catholic school for boys and girls in prekindergarten through sixth grade and young women in seventh through 12th grade.

The school was founded in 1924 and currently has 330 students and a student/faculty ratio of 7:1, with an average class size of 14.

To learn more about Oak Knoll School of the Holy Cross, visit: https://www.oakknoll.org/.

Photos by Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta