Kenyan-inspired boutique reaches NWA

Stepping over the threshold of Beautiful Lives Boutique, customers are greeted warmly by two women passionately informing customers about the organization’s outreach while inviting them to peruse the various rooms full of vibrant clothing.

On Oct. 7, the non-profit thrift store celebrated its one-year anniversary of providing for women and children locally and globally in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

The boutique began in Little Rock and was a huge success. The inspiration for starting the original boutique came from a volunteer who traveled with the executive director, Melody Taylor, to Kenya to serve on a mission trip in 2012 with an organization called Go Near Ministry.

Taylor said, “She participated with us in serving at orphanages, schools and among the poor in Kenya. When she returned to our hometown, God gave her the idea to invite her friends to bring their clothing and accessories that they didn’t wear and host a shopping event in her home to raise money for our work in Kenya.”

According to Taylor, the event raised funds for Kenya while also offering high quality clothing to women in the community at low prices. Within that year, the inspired event prompted Taylor to establish a non-profit boutique in Little Rock. A couple years later, Jim Hall, pastor at New Heights Church in Fayetteville, asked the executive director, Melody Taylor, to open another branch in Fayetteville. Taylor jumped at the opportunity to expand the business.

During its first year in Fayetteville, Beautiful Lives Boutique made a significant impact on the community. The organization has partnered with three main organizations: Beautiful Lives ministry, Young Lives, and Go Near. The boutique gave each organization an equal cut of the profits at the end of the business year. Entering their second year, the boutique is excited to announce that they are now able to give the organizations money once a month.

In addition to its ministry outreach, the boutique also aims to be a blessing to everyone that walks through their doors. Jenna Luetjen, the marketing director for Beautiful Lives Boutique, has played a vital role in shaping the organization’s relationship with women in the community.

Luetjen started out as a volunteer at the boutique, thinking it was a part-time commitment, but fell in love with the organization after sitting down and talking with Taylor.

“We spent hours in her office just discussing the importance of working with and for the less fortunate. We discovered that we were very similar in how we view the world and how God wants us to interact with it,” Luetjen stated.

Beautiful Lives Boutique is able to help the community by reaching out to diverse women in Northwest Arkansas.

“We pride ourselves on being a business of women supporting women. Women work here. Women donate the clothes. Women buy the clothes. Women, locally and globally, receive the benefits. It’s completely geared to empower women and it’s awesome,” Luetjen noted. “We actually just won the Chamber of Commerce award for a minority/woman owned local business.”

However, Luetjen said that Beautiful Lives Boutique also wants its efforts to have a bigger impact than just on women.

“Each of our organizations that we support, including Beautiful Lives, Young Lives, Go Near, support a wider demographic. We aim towards women, but we believe we can have a much bigger impact with our outreach,” Luetjen said.

Luetjen’s favorite part of her job at the boutique is observing the parts of the ministry that are not typically observed. “We give away free clothes to women in need. We meet people every day who just need a friendly face and a genuine welcome. We have prayed with customers and given them information to help them on their way to a better life. We have also gotten to do prison ministry and give away gift certificates to women getting out of prison who need clothing,” Luetjen stated.

For those at John Brown University who are looking to get involved, Luetjen expressed a constant need for internships and volunteers at the store. The non-profit is a great opportunity for students to work in a positive environment while helping women in the community.