Today I’m chatting with Dawne and Jess from Epiphany Boutiques. They are a mother-daughter duo who brought their dreams of opening a stylish boutique filled with affordable and trendy clothes to life. They started selling clothes in Off Campus Book Stores in 2011 then expanded to their first store front in Madison in 2013. They opened a second location in downtown Athens in 2014, then began selling their apparel online. They hand pick every single item that they offer in their store with thoughtful consideration, which I find incredibly admirable.
Epiphany is one of my favorite places to shop around town. I can always find cute clothes at great quality with an affordable price tag. Read on to learn more about Dawne and Jess and their story of Epiphany Boutiques. Then head to instagram to enter to win a $50 gift card!
Small Business Small Talk with Epiphany Boutques
*All photos by Elles Photography Studios
Q: I love that you are a mother-daughter run business. Could you tell us a little more about yourselves?
A: We love that we’re a mother-daughter business, too! Haha! I (Dawne) and my husband of 37 years had 5 kids in 10 years, but the first four were boys. I love my boys, (and now their wives!) but it was such a hoot to finally get a girl. She’s been my partner in crime since she was born. My brood has given me 10 grandkids so far and I hope to someday get to dress my granddaughters the way I get to dress my daughter and daughter in laws now!
I (Jess) am an Auburn grad. I love Auburn for a lot of reasons, but the mostly because I met my husband there. We have two littles, a rambunctious boy (2 years old) and a 6 month old daughter who’s already been to market with us three times.
Q: I’d love to hear the story of your business! How did you get started and what inspired you to open a boutique?
A: I, after having four rowdy boys finally got my girl when Jess was born. Over the years shopping was always one of our favorite pastimes. We spent many hours solving all the world’s problems while shopping for cute clothes that wouldn’t make Daddy cry when the bill came in. Frustrated with trying to find wearable fashion on a budget, we decided that we should step out and provide what we thought was lacking in the market. And so Epiphany Boutiques took flight.
We started inside some college bookstores with a few racks of clothes, and then after a couple of years we branched out and opened our first and then our second stand-alone Brick and Mortar stores. Then we launched online a year after that. We’ve had all three operations for the last 5 years.
Q: What can people expect when they walk into your store?
A: We are blessed with the sweetest employees! So we hope everyone feels welcome when they walk in. Next we would hope customers would touch our items. We spend a whole lot of time personally picking out everything in the store. For example, at a recent market we were looking for a sherpa to carry in store and we literally went into every vendor and touched their sherpas to find the one that had the best feel. So we would hope that customers can always expect high quality and comfy clothes when they come!
Q: What unique items do you carry in your store?
A:We made a conscious decision not to buy very much of any one item to give every customer a unique look. We never restock items (except for basics) for the same reason. We want to always have unique items that feel one-of-a-kind.
Q: What is your company’s mission?
A: First, we are serious about our faith in Christ, so we really, really want to take care of our employees and customers. That’s why we don’t open on Sunday. (But you could always shop online!) We also have a heart for busy women (like Jess and I.) Jess is always looking for cute things to wear that don’t hinder her as she chases her toddler and wants to hide her mom pooch (Her words, not mine)! I, as a woman of a certain age, don’t want to wear Granny clothes. So we try to buy items we would wear. There’s no reason you can’t go out and conquer your day in comfort and style. That is always at the forefront of our minds. When we buy dresses we keep the same things in mind. We look for something unique, wearable, affordable and fun.
Q: What do your customers love the most? What are your most popular items?
A: They seem to like our weekly disasters on Facebook Live. Some weeks it’s just a comedy of errors…so if you’re looking for a laugh join us on our FB page Thursday nights at 8:45. Right now we are selling out of sweaters and cardigans like crazy. Since we pick everything ourselves we often would like to take them to wear, but lately they’ve been selling so fast we can’t get them ourselves.
Q: How do you select your products for your store?
A: We go to market personally every quarter and hand pick every item. We’ve been to market in New York but usually we go to Atlanta. Our hope is that our customers appreciate the quality of our items because we avoid ordering online at all cost. We want to be able to feel the fabric, check the quality of the construction, make sure the color is true, and verify the fit. You know how in a lot of stores you go in and look at their mannequins and the items are pulled in and clipped back to make the fit better? We never do that.
Q: What challenges have you faced as a small business owner and how did you overcome these obstacles?
A: Finances are always a challenge. Overhead costs can be tricky. We have employees, utilities and rent to pay, not to mention inventory and the advertising you have to do so that people know you exist. On a personal level, when you are self-employed work is never over. Jess and I have to make ourselves stop working. We don’t want all our family gatherings to end up as discussions about the business. We get an alert on our phones every time a purchase is made, which is great in some regards. We feel like we know our customers. It’s not so great at your great-grandmother’s birthday party.
Q: Is there anything new or exciting coming up that you’d like to share with your customers?
A: We always encourage our customers to stay tuned to our social media. We do giveaways frequently, we run special sales often to our email list exclusively, and we have all kinds of special things planned for the holidays. At our Athens location we will be participating in Christmas open house the weekend of November 16th, 17th, and 18th. Santa will be on the square and there will be fun activities all weekend long.
Q: I can imagine that taking the leap to start your own business can be nerve-wracking. Is there any advice you would offer to someone who is considering opening a business of their own?
A: Make sure your finances are in order.
Be prepared – it’s so much work. People think “Oh, if I’m my own boss I can control my schedule.” It’s not true. Instead you work all the time.
Don’t get discouraged. It can be so overwhelming, but you just have to keep “pushing the noodle.” Eventually everything gets done, and the light dawns, but it takes a while. There are no overnight successes in small business.
Head to Instagram and follow the quick and simple steps to enter to win a $50 gift card to Epiphany Boutique!
How can you support Epiphany Boutiques?
Visit one of their boutiques and shop around or visit their online shop at epiphanyclothes.com
Madison location: 7143 US-72, Madison, AL 35758 (corner of Hwy 72 and Slaughter Rd.)
Monday-Wednesday: 10am – 6pm
Thursday – Saturday: 9am – 6pm
Athens location: 119 S Marion St, Athens, AL 35611
Follow along so you don’t miss a thing!
Want to see more local businesses?
If you enjoyed this post, you may also like to read about other local businesses featured in this series:
Elles Photography Studios (who takes all the photos you see throughout the series)
Whistle Britches Children’s Boutique
La Rue French Macarons
*If you are a small business owner in the Madison/Huntsville/Athens area and would like to be featured, please contact me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you know of someone who may want to be featured, send them my way!