By Thomeya Jackson
The Lion Hearted Boutique owned by Stephanie Odokpa-Davis and business partner Jessica Brownlee opened its doors to the public this month, for a soft opening.
The owners of the new boutique are both Florida A&M University graduates who wanted to give their take on fashion. Inclusion was a point of concern for the owners, which is why they pride themselves on catering to both average and plus-size women.
“I saw a need for this in Tallahassee, many boutiques here don’t offer a full variety for both average and plus-size women,” said Odokpa-Davis, a 23-year-old FAMU public relations graduate.
The boutique is located at 1025 Commercial Dr., and is just a short distance from FAMU’s campus. It offers a variety of clothing for women from business casual to evening wear.
The Lion Hearted Boutique wants to be a place for all women in the community where they will be able to come and get trendy clothing that makes them feel, beautiful, confident and comfortable.
“I spend hours picking out clothes, and I try to picture myself, my friends and family in the clothes. My mission is to have pieces in the boutique that fit in with the everyday student or working woman who wants to feel pretty. I see myself as a girl boss and that’s how I want my customers to feel,” said Odokpa-Davis.
Both Odokpa-Davis and Brownlee were motivated to start their business in the interest of them growing a nationally recognized brand. The two also wanted to become their own boss, and did not want to spend the rest of their lives working for anyone else. The Lion Hearted Boutique was a way for them to grow and expand themselves as entrepreneurs.
“I love the idea! I think it’s great that us plus-size girls will now have access to some of the trendy outfits we see in other boutiques. Many of the local shops I have been to only have a few things in my size, or are sold out, or either don’t make things for women shaped like me,” said Kayla Hicks a sophomore biology student at FAMU.
The first-time business owners faced some financial adversities as well as challenges with their business partnership while opening their new boutique. Originally the boutique had three partners, but now only has two. Both partners overcame the challenges with their goal in mind and a plan in hand.
The two women doubled down on efforts to save and made other sacrifices to gather the finances needed for their business. They believe the time they spent at FAMU set them up for success.
“I realized that I have everything that I need in me right now to succeed and be where I want to be,” said Odokpa-Davis.
The shop will offer everything from elegant gowns and fun summer dresses, to bold outerwear. Sizes will range from small to 3X.
“This will definitely be more convenient for girls, especially for plus-size girls with it being so close to campus. We won’t have to go out of our way to find clothing for our body shapes. Finding the right outfit can be difficult or too expensive. I think this will give ladies more confidence to go out more,” said Malikiya Hayes, a freshman food science student at FAMU.
The boutique will have its official grand opening the first week of March.