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Meet Trailblazer Rachel Stephenson

Today we’d like to introduce you to Rachel Stephenson.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I’ll start by introducing myself! My family has been in the Houston area since the 1920s. I graduated from Clear Springs High School in League City in 2012 and went to the University of Alabama (roll tide!!), where I studied Event Management and Logistics. I graduated and began working as a flight attendant with United Airlines, but was injured in turbulence just five months in, which ended my flying career. I then worked for an interior and landscape design company for a little over a year, and then got my current job at a Houston-based software company, working as the Event and Social Media Manager.

After about a year of working in corporate events (which I love – it satisfies the type-A part of me!), I was feeling creatively deprived, and the idea resurfaced to open a women’s clothing boutique. As a five-foot-ten woman, shopping online has always been difficult for me, so I wanted to open a boutique that women of all shapes and sizes felt represented. I talked things over with my mom and then-boyfriend (now fiancé), and they loved the idea!

Naming the Paisley Purl was easy. I knew I wanted to pay homage to my maternal grandmother. My Mimi, Shirley, has always been a huge inspiration in my life, and even at 88, she doesn’t leave the house looking anything but fabulous. She has dubbed herself “Shirl the Purl”, so naturally, I had to incorporate the quirky spelling. Paisley is the name of one of my kitties, and I love the way “The Paisley Purl Boutique” sounds, so there it was born!

Over the past 11 months of operating PP, I have learned how to become confident in myself, my style, my instincts, and do not be afraid of what other people think. Since my business is strictly online (for now – big things are coming!!), I have to be very active on social media, which can take a toll on a 20something woman’s self-image. I have also had to learn the ins and outs of running a business – from what permits and tax licenses I need, to how to price and ship things. I learn something new every day, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world!

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
If it was a smooth road, I would already be bored! This journey has been nothing but ups and downs, sweat and tears, arguments, fights, and I am constantly on my guard. I would say the hardest part for me, is that I am working a full-time job (that requires travel), alongside my boutique. And it’s true – you only get out what you put in, so on the days I put in part-time work, I get part-time results.

My advice: be sure that your support system, whether that is a spouse, significant other, friends, family, whoever understands that starting a business is not an easy feat. You’ll work twice as long as other people, and not have a penny to show for it (if you do things like me and re-invest 100% of your earnings into your business). Understand that Facebook has communities for EVERYTHING, and there are women all over the world who have the same questions and struggles and wants as you, so take advantage of that. Know that every day you’ll experience this unstoppable, invincible feeling, alongside the feeling that there’s no way you’ll ever succeed. You’ll be exhausted and energized, inspired and drained, up and down all the time but it is SO worth it!

Know that just because you’re young doesn’t mean you’re stupid, immature, naive, unqualified, or anything else. Because you’re young, you have all the time to figure it out! You have the energy to do it, you have nothing but the future in front of you.

I was 23 when I started dreaming of this business, and I am so thrilled it is where it’s at.

We’d love to hear more about The Paisley Purl Boutique.
We are a women’s clothing boutique, with the majority of our items listed at less than $50. We carry sizes small through XXXL, and everyone who models for us is a *real* woman. I am modeling a lot of our inventory online, and I am 5’10” and wear a 10/12. Advertising the size and height of relatable women is so important to me!

Hearing people say “I love that you have real girls wearing your stuff” is what makes me most proud. The women on my website and Instagram are my best friends, and we range in height from 5′ to 5’10”, in size from a 00 to a 16. We range from 22 to 26 and are of different ethnicities, backgrounds, and we are very proud of it.

We are also in the process of renovating our 1972 Shasta Travel Trailer to have the Paisley Purl on wheels!

Do you recommend any apps, books or podcasts that have been helpful to you?
For any boutique owner, the best resource I have found is The Boutique Hub. There are so many internal resources, support systems, and more.

Personally, I have no specific books/podcasts/apps, etc that influence my business, but I have found taking 30 minutes every night to read a book to be very relaxing. My friends and I have a book club that meets every 6 weeks or so, and I have rediscovered my love for reading!

I will say, Girl Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis really inspired to me to get up off my butt and start doing something productive!

Pricing:

  • >$50

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
All photos with multiple people (not flat lay product photos or photo of myself with trailer) are Elizabeth Hopkins Photography.

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