“I want people to know how much I love my store.” – Iris Richardson, owner of Queen Anne’s Lace Boutique
This is exactly what you can expect when stopping in at Iris’s cozy shop in Park Hills. It would be so easy to spend all my time (and let’s be honest, all my money) here! Her style is all her own and it shines through as a bright reflection in her beautiful and unique collection of handcrafted items in her shop.
Just over the hill from the entrance of Columbia Park, the brightly turquoise painted, brick building is hard to miss. Previously doctors offices, Iris acquired the building with her best friend, Alicia Eden, just three years ago. They remodeled themselves, “We had no idea what we were doing,” Iris remembers fondly the early days of launching this joint endeavor.
But it is only the location that is new for these business women. Iris and Alicia have been friends and neighbors since kindergarten. They have been working on their trades for years before. Iris with her one-of-a-kind jewelry making, Alicia as a professional hair stylist.
Talking with Iris during business hours, one can tell that she is wearing many hats and is always busy. As an artist and designer, entrepreneur, and single mom of two special needs kids, it was admirable when she mentioned that her word for 2017 is ‘balance’.
When asked how she got started in jewelry making, she got totally real with us and went back to the beginning. She shared how during a rough time in her marriage while caring for 50% of her kid’s medical needs, her credit was going out the window and even with a full-time job at a local garden center, she was having a hard time making ends meet.
To pick up the slack in her finances, she decided to start selling jewelry. She said, “I peddled jewelry everywhere I went in my trunk, to the lawyers, doctors…” remembering with a laugh. She also sold at craft shows and vendor events and even had a table of items for sale at Alicia’s salon in its previous location on Main St. in Park Hills.
People came to love her unique designs, and it became less about making a buck and more about the people and the craft.
As her jewelry orders grew, she couldn’t keep up with them and her full-time job. She was able to back off at the garden center and devote more time to creating her handmade jewelry and fill all the orders coming in.
Just three years ago, she had the opportunity to purchase the current building for her boutique. Inviting her best friend, Alicia to take the plunge they agreed to be partners. “I wouldn’t want to go into business with anyone else,” Alicia shared when mentioning the working relationship she shares with Iris. Their personalities seem to compliment one another, as Iris mentioned, that Alisha is more free-spirited, while she is more ‘here’s the list, let’s follow the plan’ kinda person.
With her own boutique, she loves the opportunity to connect with other local artisans and featuring their handmade items in the shop. She has a handmade sign artist, handcrafted scarves, and locally made soaps, body butters and more.
When asked if she had any additions that people could look forward to she responded that she’d love to bring in more designers, but she is picky about who and what she adds to the boutique. “I love collaborating with other artisans,” Iris mentioned, remembering her craft show days and the comradery that is shared by vendors there. You can know that you are getting items with quality craftsmanship when you purchase from Queen Anne’s Lace, and you are supporting an entire group of entrepreneurs.
Iris has been overwhelmed by the support from the community for the shop. “People really are proud to support local business.” She mentioned that it’s not uncommon for someone to call saying they were on their way to pick something up at the shop and ask if she wants a soda from Sonic.
She also expressed gratefulness at the flexibility owning her own business has afforded her. She was able to home-school her special needs son when he needed it. He is her sidekick at the shop, giving him a place to hang out and still be in her care.
Looking to the future, we asked where Iris hopes to see the shop. “I hope we’re still here,” she shared honestly. “You never know about retail, and we can’t compete with the chain stores, not that we try to.” She hopes to continue to grow and offer unique items to the community, and continue having the ability to provide for her family doing what she loves for years to come.
We headed over to the salon side to hear more from Alicia about what is important to her in running her business. She shared that her biggest goals for her shop are to create a fun, relaxing and happy atmosphere. For her girls working for her and all their clients. She wants to make sure her stylists are happy and comfortable.
Some challenges of running a business are expected; like bills, taxes, customer service. But some things aren’t so anticipated, for instance, Alicia mentioned, “If it snows, who’s gonna plow the parking lot?”
As we were wrapping up, Alicia mentioned, “Did you take a picture of the bathroom?” with a playful grin. Slightly confused I said, “Noo?”. She continued, “Oh, you have to go see what’s hanging in the bathroom!! It will give you an idea of my warped sense of humor!!” Laughing, Davy and I made our way to the back and explained to the stylists on the way who were looking at us questionably, that we were instructed to take a picture of the bathroom. “Oh!” they chuckled knowingly, and one said, “that’s Alicia for you”. She is obviously succeeding at creating that ‘fun and happy’ atmosphere!
Looking forward, Alicia said she is very comfortable where she’s at with the salon. “I may take on a couple more stylists, and maybe a massage therapist,” but on the whole, the culture they’ve got going on between the two enterprises is one-of-a-kind.
Iris mentioned, “I am a people person! So it really helps me having the salon attached so on slow days in the store, I can have some company.” On the flip side, Alicia had a similar opinion, “If we’re running behind over here, we can send clients over to shop while they wait!”
It is exciting to see what such a close-knit friendship, focused determination, and hard work can accomplish if you commit and stick-with-it like these ladies have done. We look forward to seeing what may be next for them as they focus on ‘balance’ and growth in the coming year.
2017 marks the eighth year for the annual Home Grown Farm Tour. On August 26th, enjoy the self-guided tour featuring eight venues highlighting the diversity of local farms and nearly 250 years of history in Washington County.
Read all about how this local non-profit is reaching families in our community to provide support and encouragement specifically to moms in need and how you can be a part!
The Fancy Crow is a unique gift shop located in Bonne Terre. The shop features primitive, country, Americana home decor items and handmade gifts made by local artisans.