epiphany boutique

EPIPHANY'S STORY

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Hello and welcome. One question that I get asked all the time is “How did you learn to do what you do? How did you get started?” If I may,  let me take you back to where my journey began. Epiphany’s story is also my story, where fashion, passion and love all meet and come together.

As a little girl, I remember that my grandma used to sew a lot, so there I was following her everywhere in the house, watching her create both simple dresses and evening gowns for the many special occasions she attended. I know it sounds stereotypical but it all started just like that. I loved making little dresses for my dolls, bedding for their tiny houses and the next thing I knew I had my own tiny studio in the house, with a billion ideas for the future.

I started college at the age of 16, at Dominican University, with a double major in Business and French Studies and a minor in Fashion Merchandising and Design. They don’t really teach you how to sew at school. You learn that at home, and then you learn the technical skills of pattern making, fitting and couture artistry at school.

After spending a summer in Italy, traveling to the top design houses and visiting the personal studios and homes of Valentino, Missoni, Ferragamo and many more, I came back home ready to start my own fashion business. I designed my first ready to wear collection. At that time I was really into coats and “alternative” business suits. I guess that’s what you get when growing up in freezing Chicago winters. I sold my collections to small boutiques locally and then opened up my first showroom at the Chicago Apparel Mart, expanding my market to boutiques all around the Midwest.

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When I was 22 years old, I opened my own boutique in Oak Park, Illinois. No need to tell you how exciting it was to be able to showcase my collections and feature them in my own store!

In the midst of all this entrepreneurial excitement, I also met the man who eventually became my husband. He is in the hotel business. The career of a hotelier is not unlike military life. Lots of moving around in order to move up. The years ahead involved pursuing my career while raising 3 little girls. I was always a stay at home mom with a business. The businesses grew and changed as they grew.

What started as a custom bridal business working with brides at my home studio became a bridal collection of gowns, bridesmaids and flowergirls sold to over 35 bridal salons around the United States.

When my oldest daughter was 4, we moved from California to Florida. I moved my production from Oakland, California to Miami. I was one of those moms who involved her daughters in the daily working routine. As my girls were little and not yet in school, I would take them to the factory with me, so they basically grew up in the factory, with all the creative craziness and love for fashion. They would come with me to choose the fabrics I was going to use, then watch me in my office sketching the collections. In return they also got to have the best costumes and play dress up clothes. When the oldest started school, guess who was elected as costume designer for the school productions? To this day, our costumes are in use at their school in Fort Lauderdale.

 

 

                                                       Image Credit:   So Cute Photography

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Did I mention that hotel life is akin to military life? Once again, we moved and this time back to California! Carmel is where we knew we wanted to live and raise our daughters.

I have always loved the idea of having my own little boutique – that’s how it all started, after all. It is magical. It is like having your own little world where you can create anything you want. I knew that I wanted a bridal store in Carmel. It had been a vision that I had had with me for so long and I realized that the time had come.

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I found a little space and filled out an application for lease. At the same time, bridal market season was coming up. So I flew off to the Chicago Bridal Market in October 2008, ready to stock my new space with gorgeous gowns. A couple days after arriving in Chicago, I was staying at my mom’s house and planning my trip to market, deciding on designers, etc, when I get an email that my application for the store space fell through.

I didn’t exactly handle the news well and got into a funk. My mom finally told me to get my butt off the couch and do what I came to do. (no sympathy there!)

Imagine this scene, I am in Chicago at a buying trip ordering gowns for a store that doesn’t exist yet! Meanwhile my husband and daughter walked up and down every street in Carmel and found the hidden place that became home for Epiphany.

So now I had my lease and lots of inventory due to come in. But what I didn’t have was a name for the store. My dear friend, Bettye, invited us to what was my first live football match in San Francisco, VIP Suites! The entire way there, my husband, Bettye and I were trying to come up with a name. I have to tell you, I hated every single option we came up with, so eventually we just stopped talking about it and went on to the stadium.

 

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As I was completely ignorant to football, everyone in the area was trying to explain the game to me and gave up. What language were they speaking? Football made no sense. Finally, two amazing ladies decided to give it a try and explained it in a way that was simple enough for someone who had zero knowledge (or interest) in football to understand. A light went off in my head. I looked at them and said “ Oh wow, I get it now. It’s like having an Epiphany.” And believe me when I say that I had never used that word ever before in my life. So my friend said, “That’s it! That’s the name of the store!” And that, dear friends, is how Epiphany Boutique came to be.

On November 1st, 2008 Epiphany Boutique opened its doors. With small changes in the beginning, it blossomed and grew into what I imagined. Within one year, we expanded into the adjacent space. Our location is perfect.

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When I look back at all these years of loving what I do, from a little girl making dresses for dolls, into a woman who had her own national bridal collections, boutiques and businesses, I think it was all meant to be to bring me to where I am now. Our goal at Epiphany is to make women feel beautiful. We get to be a part of the most important moments in a woman’s life. Graduations, births, weddings, proms and more. You’ll always remember how you feel. You’ll always remember what you wore.

From Epiphany with Love,
Christine