We had the good fortune of connecting with Erica Stephens and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Erica, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
Before having our son I had an administrative position at our local school district. Upon getting pregnant, my husband and I decided it would be best for our family for me to stay home with him. So I went from having a demanding full time job, to staying home and although it was amazing to have that time with our son, I did struggle with not having something that I felt like was just for me. Raising a child obviously is also a full time job, however, I also felt like this was the perfect opportunity to pursue my passion, which was fashion & travel and wanted to combine the two. While on vacations, I loved visiting all of the local shops that offered tropical, beachy items and that is where my desire to start my own boutique came about. Since we live on the coast and I was raised on the water- always fishing, on a boat or swimming- I grew to love all things coastal. So I thought our area would be perfect for a niche market of coastal inspired fashion with a focus on resort and vacation wear. Through my own experience of shopping for vacations- I knew how tough it was looking a bunch of different places to find everything from clothing to accessories and jewelry for a trip, so I wanted to offer a one stop shop for it all.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My boutique came about when I was unknowingly going through Post Partum Depression. My whole life had changed in a matter of months. I quit my career that I worked really hard to achieve, my husband changed jobs that had him traveling over an hour to and from work with a bigger work load, we sold our home and purchased a new one and had a baby all within 2 months.
I had a bit of a difficult pregnancy and had gained 75 pounds during it, so although I was over the moon happy being a momma, I was personally struggling with all of the changes and feelings. In my own experience, clothes and shopping was something that cheered me up but shopping with a newborn was impossible. A few months after we had our son, around the time where I was finally feeling up to taking him out of the house was when the pandemic hit- so again a whole new set of changes and difficulties. So I then began trying to order online & that of course was a nightmare as well with the new body I had post partum.
So when I finally decided to take the leap and start my boutique I knew I wanted to offer something for everyone. A variety of sizes and styles, along with price ranges so that everyone could find something. But the most important thing I wanted to offer was help with sizing. I believe something that sets me apart from others is that. I have live sales each week where I have a guest with me & we try on the clothes and talk about sizing on each item. We talk about our measurements and what size we are wearing, so that people can confidently order without worry of will it fit. Another thing I do is I fully style each item, complete with jewelry and accessories. We all live very busy lives and I like to take the stress out of shopping. I can put together a whole outfit for you and you just add to cart!
I want to be known as a boutique that offers versatility and understanding that all women are different, from their body types to their style & budget. Women are so hard on themselves (me included) I want to help women find something that makes them feel good about themselves no matter their age, size, budget or style because I strive to be that place that has something for everyone.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Our area is amazing for a long weekend visit. It still has a wonderful small town vibe with all the conveniences needed.
I would start on a Friday by having a fun group day at Mulligans golf center (a smaller top golf style arena) for some drinks and fun. For dinner that night we would go to El toros for the best Mexican food & margaritas in town. My fav dish is the ahi tuna salad and I love their strawberry smash.
Saturday we would pack a cooler of sandwiches & snacks and head to surf side beach. Before getting to the beach, we would pit stop at Bucees to load up on allll the snacks & drinks needed plus get some matching Bucees bikinis & board shorts. They have the cutest beach wear. We would spend the day at the beach & maybe walk to seahorse grill for a frozen drink on the patio before leaving. For dinner we would visit outriggers bar and grill on the water in Freeport for amazing fresh seafood and cold drinks. On Saturdays there is usually live music or karaoke!
Sunday, we would go have brunch and bloody Mary’s at Asiels before coming back to the house and hanging out by my pool. ☀️
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My shoutout has to be to my family & husband!
My husband has always been very supportive of my goals and dreams. He is always willing to help & brainstorm with me. He has a business background and helps me come up with some of the ideas to keep my marketing new and fresh and steps in when I need him to on our home front. When I told him I was feeling a little off after staying home with our son, he never hesitated to ask what I needed to feel better. The first night of my live, he wished me luck, prayed with me & gave me the sweetest pep talk. After the live was over, he told me a simple but powerful sentence that will always stick with me: “This is going to be big” Anytime it gets hard, I think of that & it inspires me to keep pushing.
My parents for jumping in with me and helping watch my son a few days a week so that I can work on my business. My mom quit her job of 30 plus years so that she can help with our son & it has been the biggest blessing. They are wonderful parents & the most amazing grandparents and I couldn’t do half of the stuff I do without their support.
Also, to all of the women who have taken this ride with me. Many women show up weekly and even daily to show their support, from a simple comment or share, to shopping with me. I get so many messages from them that are so inspiring. Its an amazing feeling when perfect strangers become friends. I can’t thank each of them enough for allowing me to share my passion with them, while also staying home to raise my son. When I see pictures of them at weddings, graduations, trips etc wearing Coastal Closet, the feeling is indescribable
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