Spring 2019
Mobile Boutique: Avabelle Boutique By Debbie Eisele

Formerly Gracie James Clothing this mobile boutique’s journey has a new owner and is entering a new phase as it moves from Virginia to Michigan.

Amy Stevenson, owner of Gracie James Clothing truck, is a full-time medical sales professional and mother of two small children. Her fashion career began in New York, where she worked on the wholesale side for many years.

Photo courtesy of Gracie James Clothing.

When she moved to Northern Virginia, she began a career in medical sales, because there was nothing in the fashion profession. “I started the business because I was looking for fashionable items at a reasonable price,” said Stevenson.

“I originally opted to purchase a truck because retail space is so expensive. In Loudoun County, Virginia every space I looked at was too expensive. I looked for over 10 years,” Stevenson explained.

Amy Stevenson, owner Gracie James Clothing sold her mobile store to Avabelle Boutqiue

Stevenson said, “Since my family is my priority and most of my business was on the weekend, I had to make a decision about owning the truck.” Although she didn’t want to leave the fashion industry, she decided to sell her business in mid-January. Her mobile boutique was sold to a Michigan business owner, Randee Garrett.

Randee Garrett, owner of Avabelle Boutique is ready to “roll” out her new store on wheels. Photo courtesy of Avabelle Boutique.

However, Stevenson shared information about her experience as a mobile boutique owner. When she launched her store she wasn’t sure where to conduct business. She said, “No one knew where to put me, as many cities lump a fashion boutique in with food trucks for zoning issues. This makes finding a location challenging at times.” Eventually, Stevenson found her niche and partnered with other businesses in the area.

Gracie James Clothing specialized in fashion accessories and clothing for women. Stevenson always ensured a seamless sales process through use of social media, her website and the POS configuration.

To help increase her business acumen, she collaborated with an online fashion truck owners group. “Networking with other buyers and business owners with a similar selling model as yours is key to navigating a small business. It has been nice to have others to bounce ideas off of.”

Garrett, the new owner, is no stranger to the fashion industry and has operated a successful business, Avabelle Boutique, for about three and a half years. Garrett plans to change the name of Gracie James Clothing to align with her brand and will offer women’s clothing, jewelry, shoes and other accessories.

Photo courtesy of Avabelle Boutique.

“We carry brands that are tried and true that we absolutely love and trust the quality of (M. Rena, Veronica M, Mystree, Hem & Thread),” Garrett said. “We prefer our items run true to size, never super tiny. Some brands new to us in 2018 were Everly, Wishlist, Ellison, and Qupid.”

Since Avabelle’s launch in 2015, Garrett has participated in many markets and events each year and branching business into a mobile environment is something she considered several times over the years. “I mainly purchased the truck in an effort to work smarter, not harder, and so that I can book additional pop-up events and markets.” She said, “When I saw Gracie James Fashion Truck it just felt right.”

Photo courtesy of Gracie James Clothing.

This mobile boutique’s journey is entering a new phase as it moves from Virginia to Michigan. New offerings and clientele are in the plans. Keep up with the transition and visit Avabelle Boutique’s website shopavabelle. com or follow on Instagram and Facebook.

Debbie Eisele

Debbie Eisele is the former managing editor for Gift Shop Plus, Stationery Trends and a variety of special issue publications, including: The Guide, Holiday Shop, Celebrations & Occasions and Waterfront Living.

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