Posted on May 28 2019
Jill and I decided we’d try something NEW.
FashionXFaith, our cute girls clothing company with a message built on faith, love and hope, was starting to get traction in small, local boutiques when we would have the opportunity to meet with the owners and tell our story in person. We’d get so many great reactions: “These are so unique—not something you see in every store in the mall” or “These are the softest tops---my daughter will ONLY wear something if it’s super soft” or “I love the message”!
It was all very exciting, but it brought into focus a dilemma. How do we reach more people around the country and let them get up-close-and-personal with each item?
So, we had the idea to create Pop-Up Boutiques. We would start with friends and family who supported our mission and ask them to set up boutiques that could show the clothes, let kids try on and model their favorites and then purchase if they liked what they saw. We would send them everything they needed and they’d invite moms and kids to take a look. The boutique “owner” would also receive a percentage of the sales. We wanted it to be a “win-win”.
People got so creative. One mom had a “craft brunch” where her daughter’s friends made crowns to wear when modeling the outfits and the moms had Mimosas! One friend did a “Live Sale” on Instagram. Another thought it was a great experience for her daughter to run the boutique so she could learn about merchandising, getting sales by reaching out to her friends, manage the inventory, and a do a little accounting.
When I reached out to my friend Deonne, who lives in Virginia, for any suggestions about who she might know to do a pop-up….she called back and said, “Me”! I wasn’t sure that it was a great fit since her girls were all grown but she insisted this was going to be great. I was going to fly out to help and use the opportunity for a much-needed visit.
Deonne is one of my oldest and dearest friends. I always described her as the kind of person you want on your side--especially if things are tough. She's a woman who has the confidence to work her way (or pray her way) out of any bad situation. If we had the misfortune of being on the Titanic together, she’d probably have figured a way to fix the gaping hole from the iceberg. She’s resourceful, smart and lives her life as if the glass is half full. (As a side note….we actually sank a small boat on Lake Geneva and had to be rescued so maybe? I’ve over-stated her abilities a little!!)
We've been friends from high school although we grew up 2 hours apart. We were AC friends, so we shared a common life experience most people thought a little strange.
Growing up in the AC church meant when you reached high school you went to Bible Class, which was supposed to be a steppingstone to repentance and joining the church. There was also a non-negotiable part of Bible Class which was participating in ACYF: Apostolic Christian Youth Fellowship. ACYF was a bi-monthly hymn sing for high school kids not yet committed to Christianity.
Take a moment to get the picture in your mind.......
It’s a Sunday night, you have to meet at your church and drive in groups to another AC church, probably at least an hour away. You arrive, file into the pews, and then each Bible Class stands up in front of the church to perform two hymns for parents and 8-10 other groups of kids feeling exactly like you about being there.
It was a drag….but not for me…. I loved it!
When I was in junior high my mom decided we would leave the ultra-conservative church near Sibley and go to the AC church in Champaign. The Champaign AC church was a bit more progressive because it was on a college campus. It was filled with college professors and students that didn’t fear questioning and didn’t recoil at differing thoughts on scripture.
Because it was a church of mostly college students there weren’t a lot of kids my age, so Bible Class was too small to really perform at an ACYF. I thought I’d dodged a bullet. But my mom wasn’t about to let this “wonderful experience” pass me by so she started negotiating with our Bible Class teacher to recruit college students to sing with us.
Somehow, they got 6 or 8 guys and girls to sing with us. I can’t really explain it because it sounds so bizarre to me that any college person would have been interested in giving up a Sunday night to go to an ACYF but they did and because of them we were so GOOD.
I remember having to sit through some tortured performances by other groups where the kids could barely muster the energy to get off the bench let alone any enthusiasm to stand up to sing. They didn’t want to be there. They hadn’t prepared. They were off key. Parents were humiliated. Teachers were exasperated because they had no control and the only thing left for them was to stand in front and pray for it to end.
That’s where I met Deonne. We were ACYF buddies. We’d meet up at the end during the punch and cookies portion of the evening and talk about guys, cheerleading and clothes. I looked forward to seeing her. She was so fun and always ready for the next adventure.
So, when Deonne said “I’m going to have the pop-up boutique at my house” I knew she’d make it special.
Deonne decided to use the pop up as an opportunity to include some moms of special needs kids from her work at Jill’s House in Virginia. (Jill’s House is a place where kids with intellectual disabilities are cared for so that parents can take a rest while knowing their child is safe and having fun. www.jillshouse.org).
The pop-up was a success. It was another unique experience brought about by combining fashion, faith and friendship. I’m continually blown away by the creative and thoughtful way that people who use our cute girls clothes to connect moms and daughters and so thankful to be a part of it.