A new local boutique opens in Michiana after seeing boom in online sales

NOW: A new local boutique opens in Michiana after seeing boom in online sales

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- The pandemic helping transform a business from purely mobile to an actual store front right here in Michiana.

The owner of The Promise Boutique is making her dreams a reality and people in the community are making that happen.

Do you remember just a few weeks ago when everyone couldn’t wait to go and shop in-person again and everyone rushed out to the store, leaving only after splurging on a full cart?

You probably weren’t the only one.

That “coming back to normalcy” history we all lived together marked the beginning for The Promise Boutique.

Ashley Steward who is the owner of the shop knew she wanted to become a business owner long before when she was once working in retail herself as an employee.

In 2017, she started to sell women's clothing only online, and about two weeks ago, she opened up her own physical woman’s clothing boutique, selling sizes small to 3x, right off of East Ireland Road.

But it’s not only women's clothing she’s focused on, Steward also used to serve in Haiti doing missionary work for about 5 months bringing her passion back home.

In partnership with local Haitian organizations, Steward has some Haitian handmade crafts, jewelry and other items for sale.

Steward says the boutique almost closed down last year but she and her small business pushed through it all and came out stronger.

One of the reasons her business name is dedicated to surviving all the obstacles.

“I was in foster care, I also went through a divorce when I was younger and I felt really broken from that and I felt like God gave me the promise of the word restore and that he will restore all that was ever lost or broken in my life. I really feel like he’s done that through being able to have this business and just being able to pour into women and help them feel beautiful in their clothes and then also you know I’m getting married this year and so that was also restored and so I wanted to name my boutique the promise to remember what I felt like God gave to me,” Steward said.

“I have just decided to open up a store front because everybody wants to get out now you know they’re ready to get out and go shopping and try things on and there’s more activities and events that are happening that you need a new outfit for, you know a wedding or graduation or something like that,” Steward said.

With trendy fashion in mind, there was also a shift to the way the consumers shopped.

With the pandemic restricting in-person shopping, more people turned to the internet for help boosting the online shopping trend.

And, some early evidence shows that consumers will continue to keep it that way.

According to Harvard Business Review, they surveyed thousands of consumers in the early days of the pandemic and found that 80% of people are changing the way they shop.

And, 60% of them are visiting stores less than before the pandemic and 43% of them made the switch to online for items they previously would have bought in stores.

The e-commerce business has boomed and Ashley tells us she’s seen that boost in her own online business leading her to open a brick and mortar shop.

As COVID protocols continue to relax, she thought it would be the perfect time to start her physical store as the urge for buying and trying on clothes in person returns.

Although online shopping has become a big competitor for those in-person retailers, Steward is choosing to fuel her business by continuing her e-commerce sales too.

You’ll also catch her greeting everybody who walks in with a cheerful personality and smile.

Steward is dedicated to dressing women of every shape in size in a style they will love with the goal of getting them to start smiling as soon as they walk in.

“We have everything from shoes and there’s candles, we have dresses, I got lots of dresses, love them, tops you’re going to find some snacks, some spa products, jewelry, handbags, some hats, all sorts of things. There is definitely something in here for everybody,” Steward said.

So, if you choose to walk on in, in-person or stick to online shopping, know you’re more than just a customer at The Promise Boutique.

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