“I love to make people feel good about themselves,” says Brittany Rhodes, owner of Bella Chic Boutique. Rhodes opened up Bella Chic, located at 300 N Brittain St, to offer everything in styles from formal to casual and in sizes newborn to 3X.
The name’s got a nice ring to it. And it has a similar ring to her last boutique Bellaboo Boutique, which Rhodes also owned in Lewisburg. Its namesake is Rhodes’ daughter, Isabella.
Having moved to Lewisburg from Rochester, New York, Rhodes noticed there were no boutiques in Lewisburg. Always interested in fashion, she opened up Bellaboo seven years ago, which was the first of the now seven boutiques to open there. When her kids transferred schools, Rhodes decided to make the move to Shelbyville.
Just in time, the former owners at 300 North Brittain decided to move their business. Rhodes found the location and opportunity perfect timing for her new boutique.
“Working in commercial real estate, I knew location was everything―you have to have parking, road frontage,” said Rhodes.
“When this came open, it was kind of like God saying, ‘Hey, come over,’ because I was running my ragged driving from Lewisburg to here.”
It took some remodeling to transform a bakery with a commercial kitchen into space for clothing racks and dressing rooms. Rhodes said she couldn’t have done it without her fiancé Brent who helped her with the contractors, and for “bearing with me even when I had him moving truck loads of clothes, purses and accessories from Lewisburg.”
Once completed, Rhodes even had room for friend and licensed massage therapist Tricia Taylor to set up a room. As different as the two businesses may sound, both Rhodes and Taylor bring business to each other―those seeing Taylor get to experience Bella Chic and vice versa.
So besides opening shop every day with the expectation of building up another wonderful clientele, Rhodes says other local businesses have been a great environment. For example, Koffee Beanz next door has brought a lot of business to Bella Chic.
“It’s not competition―the more things you bring to the area, the more likely people from other places are going to come in,” Rhodes said.
Rhodes assured she doesn’t want to sell something that doesn’t look good on her clients―and as a business that runs by word of mouth, compliments like “I love your shirt. Where’d you get it?” goes a long way.
“People, essentially, are my brand,” Rhodes said. “I always say I would rather make a dollar off of 100 people, than 100 dollars off of one person.”
When setting up for the first time in Lewisburg, Rhodes said getting the merchandise was “overwhelming.”
“It’s a learning curve. Something I may wear; you may never wear out. And I think basically you have to learn there are so many styles that you have to carry because people want different things,” she said. But it kicked off and leaving Lewisburg was bittersweet.
In the spirit of wanting to be different, Rhodes only orders a set of one piece of clothing once. A dress she carries now, she will never carry again―except maybe in a different color―when they sell out.
Any items that Rhodes may receive that are minimally damaged, like with a pin-sized hole, are either put on sale or donated to teenage girls in need. Rhodes also selects a local girl to provide a free outfit a month.
“You need to do what makes you happy in life,” Rhodes said, “And it makes me happy to see someone walk out and say, ‘wow, these fit,” or ‘wow, I can’t believe I’m in this size.’”
Bella Chic’s hours on Black Friday, Nov. 26, will be from 8 p.m. to 12 a.m. The first 20 customers will receive what Rhodes calls “swag bags,” each valued at $100 and full of local goodies.
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