Store owner meshes love of fashion and thrift shopping to create her “curvy girl sanctuary
“What colors do you wear the most?” she asks.
“Black, beige, brown and gray…for the most part, I am pretty conservative,” I respond as I sift through the racks.
By the time we were done, I had tried on no fewer than 12 different outfits—dresses, skirts and blouses in shades of the pinkest pink, the brightest purples, different hues of blue, all sorts of colorful prints and patterns.
Some worked. Some didn’t. There was this one dress—mint green and two different shades of pink splashed against a white backdrop. It wasn’t black or gray or brown. I would have never picked that dress. But at Zapata’s urging I tried it, and I loved it. It was so much fun.
“And that’s the key—to have women feel beautiful,” says Zapata. “And to get women, especially full-figured women, out of that box we put ourselves in.”
If anyone understands what it means to get out of a box, it is Zapata. The 25-year-old’s journey to business ownership was not a straight path. After earning a bachelor’s degree in biology from Jackson State University, she had her heart set on becoming a physical therapist. She applied to several schools; and while waiting for acceptance letters, she worked at Wal-Mart and as a dance teacher at a local high school. In the meantime, three letters came in. But they weren’t the letters she hoped for.
“I felt like a failure,” she says. “I had this picture of what my future was supposed to be, and if was as if someone had taken it down and smashed it.”
That’s when Zapata says she decided maybe physical therapy wasn’t her calling at all. She quit all of the jobs she had busied herself with so she could figure out what she was supposed to do. And by the time she finally received an acceptance letter for a physical therapy program in the fall of 2012, she was on another path.
She has always considered herself a fashionista, she says. And like many other Americans, she loved shopping at second-hand and thrift shops. The clothes were a bargain, and they help set her style a part from others.
“I hated following everyone else,” she says. “And I hated looking like everyone else. When you go to the mall or department stores, it’s the same thing and everyone ends up looking the same. I loved shopping at (second hand stores), but it was hard to find anything in plus sizes.”
Those realizations coupled with her decision not to pursue the degree in physical therapy sent Zapata on a mission to open her own business—a second-hand clothing boutique that catered to full-figured women. Since opening her store at 4717 Freret St. at the end of last August, Zapata says business has been great.
“We’re finally getting the word out,” she says. “People know we’re here. Social media is buzzing.”
Zapata may be on to something with her decision to open a resale clothing boutique as opposed to new retail.
According to industry stats, resale continues to be one of the fastest growing segments of retail. In fact, the resale industry in the U.S. has annual revenues of approximately $13 billion. And the resale industry has experienced a growth (in number of stores) of approximately seven percent year for the past two years. There are currently more than 25,000 resale, consignment and non-profit resale shops in the United States.
Full Blossom Chic is both a resale shop and a consignment boutique. High-ticket items—designer labels, wedding or evening gowns, for instance, are featured in the store on a consignment basis, meaning the original owner is not paid for the item until someone purchases it. However, customers can bring in regular garments and resale them on the spot. The resale value of the items is totaled and the customer can choose to receive a smaller percentage of the resale value in cash or a larger percentage of the value in a store credit. And of course, even if a customer has nothing to resale or cosign, they can always visit the store to buy a few “new” pieces to add to their wardrobe.
Full Blossom Chic is located at 4714 Freret Street. Visit the website at ww.fullblossomchic.com.