One of the T-shirts for sale in the new Mainstream Boutique says “All I need is coffee and mascara.” Chelsea Parker must have had her fill of both when she went from studying for finals to owning the clothing store in less than a year.
Parker, who graduated from Baylor in May, opened her new store at 600 Franklin Ave. on Saturday after several months of franchise agreements, construction, training and choosing the clothing and jewelry she would sell.
“It’s been a whirlwind. I always knew I wanted to have my own business, but I thought I would have a fun job or just do something really crazy for a while,” Parker said. “But the opportunity fell into my lap and I couldn’t not take it.”
Parker’s cousin, who owns the business with her, fell in love with the Mainstream Boutique franchise in Houston. When they approached the business’s owners, their love for “Fixer Upper” convinced them to expand into Waco.
Parker majored in entrepreneurship at Baylor, and is now using the skills she learned in business management and operation to get her own store off the ground. She chose the store’s dainty beaded necklaces, floral blouses and patterned maxi dresses herself, and manages employees, finances and the store’s day-to-day operations.
Parker said she aims to appeal to a wide range of customers, Baylor students shopping with their moms and grandmas on the weekend and businesswomen looking for a fashionable outfit for Sunday brunch.
“I try to hit different age ranges and different people’s styles, but it’s all very current for every type of person,” Parker said.
Waco senior Shelby Crow is helping out around the store while Parker gets started. She said Mainstream Boutique brings a new dimension to Waco’s downtown shopping scene.
“A mom came in with her Baylor daughter and she said, ‘I’ve been saying for so long that there need to be more shops with young people running them.'” She was talking about how downtown is such a fun place, but it needs to be built up so much,” Crow said. “It’s just something different that people can stop and do, and it has a lighter feel than other things around here.”
The store’s design is meant to emphasize that light feeling. Hardwood floors, bright windows and modern light fixtures lend the store a fresh and inviting atmosphere that complements spring’s watercolor scarves and denim jackets. Most clothing items range in price from $15 to $40, and Parker said Mainstream Boutique always has a competitive price point.
Richmond, Va., junior Hannah Krudys, who is an apparel merchandising major and was in the same sorority as Parker, said she is excited to see students investing in the Waco community.
“I think it’s great that alums are investing in the city. Waco obviously has so much potential and has already grown tremendously in the last few years I’ve been here,” Krudys said. “Baylor grads understand the student culture and buying habits well, so it will obviously be a big advantage having them pour into Waco development.”
Parker said she wants Mainstream Boutique to be the destination for students and their parents to shop for any occasion—whether for coffee and mascara T-shirts or formal dresses.