Opening the Door to New Beginnings

Opening the Door to New Beginnings

by Susan Neuhalfen

Denise Oates loves all things new. She loves new clothes, new ideas, New Year’s celebrations and especially new beginnings.

Denise and her husband have run a family trucking company for several years, with Denise handling the day-to-day operations. It has always been her dream though, along with her daughter and daughter-in-law, to own a clothing boutique. The chance came when she ran into her daughter’s former pageant coaches in Huntsville, Alabama, and they discussed the fact that they were looking to franchise their boutique.

“I can’t believe now that I have more time to be home and watch the cows, you’re going off to work seven days a week,” said her husband when she told him about the opportunity.

Denise laughs when she tells that story, but owning a boutique was exactly what she’d dreamed about for a long time. She knew she wanted this new start in her career and her life.

Denise was very familiar with the Envy Boutique in Huntsville, and was actually a big fan of their unique looks. She had been buying clothes from them on Instagram on a weekly basis for herself, her daughter and gifts for friends and family. So when the idea of franchising came up, she already had a solid understanding of the merchandise.

“I loved the clothing already,” said Denise. “It wasn’t a stretch for me to sell it because I believed in it.”

The rest, as they say, is history.

Now Envy Boutique has been up and running for over a year thanks to the family (and nearly family) members that Denise has assembled. Her daughter-in-law and niece work side by side with her during the week. They also have two family friends working there as well. Her 15 year-old daughter, who still on occasion participates in beauty pageants, is also there on weekends when she’s not in school or at an FFA event.

Even the customers are like family. Denise says she sees many of the same people week after week and they’ve grown to trust her opinion and look forward to her showing them what new items have come in.

They are the first franchisee of the Huntsville store, which buys directly from Los Angeles. Denise says that having buyers in LA vs. local is what keeps them ahead of the trends in the area.

“We’ll have clothes come in and three weeks later we’ll see that same style everywhere,” said Denise. “That’s one reason why a lot of our customers shop here every week.”

In fact, in only their first year they were finalists in three different categories for Best of Denton County including Best Fashion Accessories, Best Fashion Shoe Store and Best Women’s Clothing. They won Best Women’s Clothing Store in the student-voting category.

It’s not surprising since they carry a huge variety of women’s clothing in very chic looks. They have everything from jackets and ponchos to dresses, pants and very hip blouses to wear with leggings or Moto pants whatever the preference.

Denise told a funny story about their first arrival of Moto pants, which look like leggings but have a texture to them like pants. When they first got them she said she was surprised by their arrival but sometimes the buyers get products that are so far ahead of their time, even Denise doesn’t see it right off.

“I wasn’t sure at first, but they just fly off the shelves,” Denise said of the pants. “They are so comfortable, they’re just like wearing pajamas.”

They also keep some adorable shoes for not only women, but kids too. They carry very hip kids’ clothing ranging usually from sizes 6-14. They pride themselves on being an affordable boutique with something for everyone.

“We serve people from 6 years old to 80 years old,” said Denise of her clientele. “We love to point out new fashions that we know will look good on customers and then they try them on.”

Denise told about one woman who refused to wear anything but neutral colors. At the time they carried a sweater dress with polka dots that they tried to get her to try on but she refused. Her husband brought her back in after they went to the movies to try it.

“When she walked out of the dressing room we collectively gasped (including her husband) because it looked so amazing on her,” she smiled. “She immediately bought it.”

They carry much more than just clothing, too. They have beautiful jewelry including Earthgrace bracelets, handmade stackable bracelets and fun hairbands that double as bracelets. They also have unique gifts such as retractable lint brushes (so the tape doesn’t stick to everything), emergency kits for teachers and other people in your life and scarves that make every outfit look incredible. A personal favorite amongst customers is S’Well Bottles. S’Well bottles are double insulated stainless steel water bottles that can actually hold an entire bottle of wine. Move over Yeti, these are very fashionable as well as affordable.

For the house, they also have a mom and daughter team who hand make unusual candles. They sell Suds, which cleans grouts, grills and, according to many in the medical field, will even take blood out of scrubs.

They also offer reusable shopping bag good for 10% off your next purchase if you bring it back with you whenever you shop there. Envy Boutique gives them away to first time customers and then those same customers who bring back the bag to use, get 10% off that purchase.

This is just the beginning for Denise and her team at Envy Boutique. Their hope is to first expand their customer base in Denton and then start franchising to other areas.

Still learning from her first year in retail, she says her favorite part of the business remains the people.

“People are what I like best,” said Denise. “I get attached easily and our customers are like family.”

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