Cathie Anderson

Owner of Runway, Button Up boutiques leases space in midtown Ice Blocks development

Tour Folsom Button Up Boutique with owner Robin Bernardoni

Button Up Boutique owner Robin Bernardoni wants to whet Bee readers' appetite for her retail brand as she prepares to open one of her stores in midtown Sacramento, so she gave The Bee's Cathie Anderson a tour of her Folsom store.
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Button Up Boutique owner Robin Bernardoni wants to whet Bee readers' appetite for her retail brand as she prepares to open one of her stores in midtown Sacramento, so she gave The Bee's Cathie Anderson a tour of her Folsom store.

Retailer and fashion stylist Robin Bernardoni will open her fourth store in the region later this year, finally entering the city of Sacramento with a Button Up Boutique at the Ice Blocks development in midtown.

“We’ve looked at other spots,” she said, “but we always came back to R Street. It just felt right with our clientele and our target market. We like to work with people who want to come in and get a personal shopping experience to help build their wardrobe and help with their vacation wardrobe. We want to develop relationships with the community, and that’s why we chose that area.”

Bernardoni also owns and operates Runway Boutique in El Dorado Hills and two other Button Up boutiques, one in Folsom’s Palladio at Broadstone center and the other in the Fountains at Roseville center. She opened that first Runway store in 2009 amid an economic downturn, but she had spent months selling apparel from her home and had built up a list of clients who respected her fashion sense.

The Ice Blocks development is on R Street, between 16th and 18th streets, so Bernardoni’s latest Button Up will be a block away from Safeway and a couple of blocks from Cafe Bernardo and Iron Horse Tavern. Bernardoni said she felt that this spot would ensure plenty of local foot traffic.

Her stores sell cocktail dresses, business attire, casual wear and resort apparel. Girls also come from miles around the region to shop her selection of formal dresses for proms, but Bernardoni doesn’t think she’ll be selling those dresses at the midtown store.

Bernardoni owns her boutiques with her husband, Pete, and the couple said it looks like they will be open by midyear.

Along R Street between 16th and 18th streets, a village of offices, shops and apartments called Ice Blocks is rising fast on the site of the former Crystal Ice plant, which burned to the ground in November 2015.

Lifting veil on insurance: John Breckenridge managed a multimillion-dollar portfolio of insurance business for Wells Fargo for about 11 years, but he’s going out on his own and introducing proprietary software aimed at increasing his clients’ access to information.

Breckenridge’s agency works solely with universities and colleges to help them identify the right insurer and insurance plan for their students. The 46-year-old insurance broker has been working in this arena for 20 years, hired by Somerton Student Insurance in 1997.

“I was a few years out of college at Sac State, and I wanted to find an industry that would allow me to flourish and grow,” Breckenridge said. “I met a couple that owned an agency, and they hired me. I helped them grow that agency, and they ended up selling that agency in 2005 to Wells Fargo, and I headed up the student insurance business for Wells Fargo up until June of 2016.”

During his years with Wells Fargo, Breckenridge said, the size of the student insurance portfolio tripled. Yet Breckenridge felt the industry was weighted down by legacy software that didn’t make all information readily available to university administrators trying to monitor service or to identify problems.

“We wanted to introduce automation and transparency,” Breckenridge said. “It ensures that the school, our client, has complete access to information that pertains to their program. They’ll be able to log into our system and have complete transparency as to how many students are enrolled. Payments and accounting will be completely transparent to the client, as far as status of the payment, status of … eligibility and enrollment data being sent to the insurance companies.”

The software pulls back the curtain and allows the colleges to see actions taken by his agency, the students and the insurers, Breckenridge said. Authorized school administrators will be able to view a dashboard of information, but they also will be able to drill down into individual student concerns. Students will be able to access their own accounts.

Typically, all colleges require students to have health insurance, Breckenridge said, so they offer a policy that students can pay for as part of their fees. If a student is covered under a parent’s insurance policy, they can submit proof of that coverage and submit a waiver. Student policies, however, have low deductibles and low premiums, Breckenridge said, so they’re appealing to students and parents.

John C. Breckenridge Insurance Solutions is open for business at 2277 Fair Oaks Blvd., Suite 415, just behind Sacramento’s Pavilions shopping center.

Cathie Anderson: 916-321-1193, @CathieA_SacBee

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