Women’s boutique grows from an online store to an Uptown business focused on empowerment and charity

The best part of a photo shoot for photographer Amy Thomas was watching people get ready. So, after 15 years as a professional photographer, she shifted her focus away from photography and toward clothing, jewelry, makeup, and accessories.

For a little over a year, Thomas ran an online clothing and accessories store. In July of this year, she opened a bricks and mortar retail shop, called Believe Inspire Beauty Clothing Boutique,132 Uptown Drive.

Amy Thomas started out as a professional photographer, but shifted to owning a clothing boutique dedicated to empowering women..“We still loved seeing all the people and helping them get ready, so we kept that part,” Thomas says.

The women’s boutique that tries to be as inclusive as possible is all about empowering women and supporting charities.

It fills its empowerment mission by offering a full line of casual wear in sizes ranging from Small to 2X. Thomas is working to add Extra-Small and 3X clothing. Believe Inspire Beauty also carries accessories such as jewelry and makeup.

Empowerment also comes from supporting charities.

Thomas says the shop raises money for a different charity every month. She has special T-shirts printed to sell each month, and part of the proceeds go to the month’s charity. Her goal is to raise at least $500 a month. In August, she raised $1,000 for the Underground Railroad. September’s charity was suicide prevention and in October money will be raised for breast cancer awareness.

“We have a company that makes the special T-shirts just for charities,” Thomas says, adding, “They’ll do a design for breast cancer.”

Thomas says though breast cancer awareness is a national event, she prefers to donate to local charities if possible. She does the research to find just the right one. “We talk to our customers, too, and whenever we can, we tie their personal story to the charity, too.”

Inside the boutique, you’ll find clothing for all different body types.Supporting her neighboring businesses is also a priority, she says. Believe Inspire Beauty Clothing partners with other Uptown Bay City businesses for special programs such as the September style show, Back to the Runway. The style show was a joint project between Believe Inspire, Infinity Bridal, and Omoni Boutique. She also plans to join in for an upcoming Shop-a-Palooza involving Uptown and Downtown Bay City businesses.

Although much of the inventory is geared toward women and women’s empowerment, Thomas says her son, Kole, 6, gets involved in picking some of the inventory. On the website, Kole’s Kollection features a little bit of everything, but particularly animal prints.

Thomas says the collection started because Kole would snuggle with her when she was ordering inventory at night, and he wanted to help.

 “It’s his collection and he adds to it all the time,” she says.

At first, he picked out an outfit or a shirt every day. Eventually, there was enough for a collection. Now, the collection includes clothing, sleepwear, and accessories.

“It’s important for us to have everybody in my family part of it,” says Thomas, who adds the website includes photos of her daughter and two grandchildren modeling. Her mom helps out in the shop. “We’re a family-oriented business,” she says.

Each month, the shop sells special T-shirts to raise money for a different charity.When she took the business from an online boutique to a brick-and-mortar storefront, she says, “me and my significant other really built everything in here.” That goes for everything from the checkout counter to the décor.

“Part of our journey was to take all of the old wood we’ve got and turn it into our storefront.”

They not only re-purposed palettes, but she said the countertop was once her grandparents’ entertainment center.

“That was really part of our story and part of our journey,” she says. “That’s how we came up with the name – Believe, Inspire, Beauty – just believing that beauty is all around us, and believing in yourself that you’re beautiful inside and out.


Katheleen Knopf

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