This New Ft. Mitchell Shop Has a Mission for Girls Who Work There
Tue, 06/16/2015 - 18:55 RCN Newsdesk
When She's All That Boutique in Fort Mitchell opens its doors for the first time on June 20, the company's founders will have taken a huge step towards not only starting a business, but also solidifying a support foundation for four under-resourced high-school girls.
The store is owned by Alabama-native Tara Furlough, who opened the first She's All That in her home state before starting the new location in Kentucky. The way the stores operate is that teenage girls are hired to work there and every cent of profit goes toward college scholarships to economically and often emotionally at-risk girls. The girls are selected in partnership with counselors at local schools.
Furlough and store manager Kelly Brake teamed up to open the same kind of store last year in Huntsville, Alabama with tremendous success. All three girls that were seniors last year are currently enrolled as freshmen in college now.
"They are first in their families to go to college and they all have high grade-point averages," Brake said of the girls that worked at the store in Alabama last year. There are 10 girls working at that store this year.
The store was renovated completely in five months and with Brake's creativity and eye for design, and what began as a bland, dark store front now pops with color and various materials and textures to give the boutique more of a chic decor to complement the store's fashionable inventory.
The store limits the amount of hours the girls can work, especially during the school year. The plan is to continue to bring in at-risk girls to employ and provide for their college cost.
"We have a foundation set up that we fundraise through that covers the girl's costs and then the money we made over the overhead we broke even on which is really good for a start-up business. That money then flows into the foundation and that's how we raise the money," Furlough said.
The foundation has helped six kids get into college. The students still receive Pell grants but they have other costs that are not met under the grants that would otherwise go unmet due to the lack of family support.
"They have a network of women to lean on, not just me," said Furlough of the girls that have benefited from the program. "We have a staff of mentors in Alabama picked out for the girls as well."
Beyond paying for college, Brake and Furlough get to have an even more direct impact on the girls and their prospective business futures by educating them on how a small business operates. Rather than working the counter and pointing out clothes for people to wear, the adults of the operation go over with them the finest of details about how a business stays afloat.
"The store works as a vehicle to give the girls work ethic. Also, we show them profit and loss statements so they learn how business runs. From their perspective, all business owners are wealthy, and we want to show them that there is a whole other side of that story," Furlough said. "They get to see how hard it is to run a business. When they leave here, they know how to read financial statements."
"What it does is teach them self sufficiency," Furlough said. "A lot of these girls don't know what it takes to go to college. When they're in college, we still mentor them. You can't just put them in college and say that we're done. We become someone they lean on."
Due to the success of the Huntsville store coupled with Brake's roots in Northern Kentucky, the pair began to eye a second location in the winter.
"We came up here and did our due diligence and here we are," Furlough said. "I love this area." The first four girls selected for the program are from Lloyd and Beechwood High Schools.
"We always knew we wanted to open a second store, so it kind of made sense to do it here once I moved back to Northern Kentucky," Brake said. "Then everything kind of just fell into place."
The location is on Dixie Highway right next to the famed Greyhound Tavern. She's All That has eight parking spaces in the front of the store which is sometimes an overlooked premium compared to other storefronts. The other benefit of being next to the Greyhound is the large amount of diners the restaurant sees on a daily basis. Because they Greyhound attracts many older people, She's All That carries a wide array of looks for all ages and has picked up more gift items that teens perhaps aren't typically drawn to. The second level of the two-story building, though, is the teen spot where girls can find all the latest fashions and trends.
"We wanted the girls to be part of the process of picking out the inventory," Furlough said.
The ribbon cutting and VIP pre-sale is scheduled for Wednesday evening from 5-8.
Written by Bryan Burke, associate editor