Fashion for all shapes and sizes
When Nadine Walker started her online business in 2012, she never imagined that she would eventually be able to open a plus-size boutique in Brooklyn Park that caters to women of all shapes and sizes.
“I started doing pop-ups in 2021,” said the 34-year-old entrepreneur. “I opened up at this location in March.”
In the few short months that Nadine’s Plus Size Boutique has been open, business has been pretty good. And although she still maintains her online business, she’s confident she made the right decision in opening a storefront clothing store in a strip mall, even as many small retailers are struggling.
MSR: What made you decide to open up a store here?
NW: I felt like there was a need in our community for plus-size clothing that’s more urban, more fashionable. I’m 34, and I wanted more age-appropriate clothing for me and my peers. And then on top of that, I’m very spiritual. The numbers 1-4-4-4 came to me as an angel number. So, when I saw the [building] address, I was like, yes, this is it.
MSR: How’s the response been from the community?
NW: The response has actually been really good. All the businesses in the strip mall are family owned. They have been very welcoming to me. I’ve done collaborations with Down the Street Nutrition, where the owner had a ladies’ night. She would help them get pampered and then they came here to the boutique. They’d purchase pieces from me, and I gave them some style tips. So, they’ve been really welcoming.
MSR: What inspired you to start your business?
NW: What inspired me was my grandmother. I’m named after my grandmother. She was very stylish. She stepped wherever she went, even to the grocery store. She instilled in us to always look our best, no matter our size, especially if we’re plus. As women, we really have to make sure we look our best because there’s a stigma [with plus-size women].
She was our style icon. So that’s what inspired me. On top of that, I don’t like not being able to see or wear fashionable, plus-size clothing for women my age, and for women of color.
MSR: Where do you get your clothing from and what are your bestselling items?
NW: I get my clothing from different manufacturers. A lot of them are based in LA, so sometimes I’ll fly out there if we need to buy in bulk. If not, we shop online from different manufacturers. Our jumpsuits and bodysuits are our bestselling merchandise.
MSR: What has been your biggest challenge in owning your own business?
NW: To be completely honest, it’s purchasing a sign. Signs range anywhere from $8,000 to $12,000. I’ve been applying for different grants and stuff like that, to help get established. I’d say being a standalone [business] has also been a challenge. It’s not like when you’re in a mall where you know everybody going into the mall will walk by your storefront.
MSR: What does success look like for you?
NW: My vision is for my business to expand. I actually have an idea to create a hotel and spa in Stillwater. It will be a staycation that’s far enough to get away, but still close enough to where you can go home and see your children and loved ones. I want it to be somewhere where women of color are able to go and feel safe and feel good. Because right now, it’s hard for women of color to feel safe and to be relaxed.
MSR: What’s been the most rewarding part of your business?
NW: To be honest, seeing plus-size women come into the boutique. They come out of the dressing room and the look on their faces and the smiles, compared to how they were when they first came in and were skeptical. But once they try things on, they’re like, ‘this is for me.’
MSR: What advice would you give to an aspiring entrepreneur?
NW: Get a mentor who has been through everything—the ups, the downs, the highs and the lows. They can actually walk with you and give you the steps that you need to be successful.
Nadine’s Plus Size Boutique is located at 1444 85th Ave. N., Brooklyn Park, MN. For information, call 612-293-0371, or go to www.nadinesboutique.store. Nadine’s is hosting a sip-and-shop from noon to 6 p.m., on July 15, which will include other vendors of color selling their products.