Angie gets asked a lot why she started a lingerie store and boudoir studio. Here is the answer. Get your tissues.
Unlike most business owners or artists, Angie didn’t always know she wanted to be a photographer. In fact, she didn’t even know she was good at taking photos until 2006 when her husband was deployed to Iraq for sixteen months. Prior to that Angie worked for a company as a salesperson. She was the top sales rep, made a six figure salary, and thought that she had found her career. Not that this role made her happy by any stretch of the imagination, but you can’t really argue with six figures. Especially when you have three kids to feed.
When Brian was deployed, Angie did a lot of research to find the best way to keep Brian updated on what was going on at home. During this time international texting cost way too much to be an effective method of communication. Instead Angie would send Brian two care packages every week full of letters, photos of her and their three children, and whatever else she could think of that he might need.
When Brian returned home he told Angie that she was actually pretty good at this whole photography thing. He bought her a really nice camera, not a professional camera, but not a rinky dink digital camera either. She absolutely loved it! She started photographing everything, her kids, frogs on their porch, anything that she thought would make a good photo. After six to eight months she was ready for an even better camera, one that could do more. So Brian got her an even better one. Six to eight months after buying that one she was ready for an even better one, so Brian bought her another one. Seeing how much she loved photography and what a gift she had, Brian suggested that she start taking photos for money. Angie wasn’t sure about it, but liked the idea of getting paid to do something she loved. She started doing freelance photography for friends magazines and newspapers.
Not only did Angie love taking photos, she put a lot of effort into it. She would spend her nights and weekends watching Youtube tutorials on different camera angles, and how to use Photoshop. She taught herself everything she knows. After several years of watching Angie put so much into her “hobby” and realizing that Angie loved photography way more than her corporate job, Brian suggested she start doing photography full time. He bought her a very nice professional camera. We’re talking actual professional quality (like an $8,000 camera!). He woke her up on a Monday morning with coffee, like he always does. He told her that he loved her, he believed in her, and he wanted her to quit her job and start doing photography full time. Angie was shocked to say the least, she told him he was being ridiculous. After all they had two mortgages, two car payments, and three kids to feed. However, she knew that he believed in her, and that no matter what happened they would make it work. Sometimes in life you just have to jump. So, she decided to take the risk and start doing what she loved. She went into her office that morning and quit her six figure job.
Angie actually likes to refer to this as her first failure, she wishes she would have taken some time to get their finances in order before cutting off their main source of income. However, if she hadn’t done it that morning she’s not sure when or if she would have made the change. After quitting her job, Angie began to do photography for anyone who wanted her photos. She freelanced for newspapers and grew the name “Angie Davis Photography.” Within the first year her small business actually started to make money! After the success of having a steady amount of work, Angie decided she wanted to stop freelancing and only photograph seniors, weddings, and boudoir sessions. Brian wasn’t so sure about this plan. They still had several bills and the business had only just started. However, Angie was confident that she could make it work and Brian trusted her.
Not only did Angie make it work. Within a year she was able to open up a small studio in Conway and hire her first employee! She was getting so much work that she couldn’t handle things on her own. Everything was going surprisingly well until tragedy struck not long after. On October 11, 2015, Angie and Brian lost their youngest son in a car accident the day before his seventeenth birthday. This horrible event rocked Angie and Brian’s entire world. Losing their son changed her in every way imaginable, emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually. She didn’t think she would ever be able to pick up a camera again because her pain was so great.
During this time Angie didn’t understand, “why the sun even kept rising.” She didn’t understand why the rest of the world just kept going even though her son, Kolton, was gone. Even though her heart hurt, and even though she didn’t want to get out of bed, she knew she had to find some joy in her now dark world. With a very heavy heart she picked her camera back up and decided to exclusively shoot boudoir photography. She knew that she was never going to be able to take another senior photo, because she would never get to take her son’s senior photos. She wouldn’t be able to participate in the joy of photographing a wedding, knowing she would never feel that joy at her own son’s wedding. Boudoir was the only thing that made sense. Photographing these women would be the road to putting joy back into her life.
At first she didn’t understand why this type of photography gave her so much joy, after all, a lot of these women were hurting too. Through Angie’s gift though, she was able to put some joy back into these women’s lives as well. These ladies might never have seen themselves as beautiful, or they might have had a boyfriend or friend say something negative that stuck with them. Whatever the reason was, these women just didn’t see themselves as sexy. However, once they had their sessions and got to see the final version of their artwork, many were brought to tears by how beautiful they actually are. Putting joy back into these women’s lives gave her joy too. Realizing this, was the first step in Angie’s healing process. Seeing these women’s faces light up after she showed them their photos, watching a lady cry on her couch because she had never seen herself look so amazing. That’s what Angie wanted to do. That’s what was going to help her heal.
About four months after Angie got back into her studio, exclusively doing boudoir sessions, she started to notice that ladies didn’t have very high quality lingerie for their sessions. They would bring in one or two outfits that usually didn’t fit well. Angie started to ask why they would spend so much money on a session and not bring in a good selection of lingerie. After all, when you have photos taken you want to look the best you can. The ladies had all kinds of reasons, local stores didn’t have high quality lingerie, it wasn’t as high quality as it had looked online, Victoria Secret didn’t have her size, and so on. Seeing that there was a need for lingerie in the area, Angie decided that she would start to sell lingerie for women having sessions. She brought in several outfits and accessories to sell in her studio. After a while women who didn’t want to have sessions right then heard about her lingerie and also started to shop with her at the studio. Angie realized that she needed to do more. She needed to create a place for women where they could come in and buy lingerie and have a session. She decided to expand her small boudoir studio into a large lingerie store & boudoir studio.
During this time Angie was still very hurt from the loss of her son, she was excited about her new business opportunity, but she didn't want to stay in Arkansas. She just wanted to run away and leave everything behind. She knows now this wasn’t the answer, but at the time she just wanted a fresh start. She and Brian decided that a lingerie store and boudoir studio would do pretty well in Tampa, Florida. They looked at several different studios in the city. They found eight or nine places that they loved, but for one reason or the other none of the studios they looked at were available. Every place had either just been leased out, just been sold or simply didn’t work for their needs. Moving the business and their lives to Tampa just wasn’t what God had planned for Angie and Brian.
Realizing that moving to Tampa wouldn't work the two returned home. Angie was disappointed to say the least, but still wanted to make her new dream work. She decided to start searching for a warehouse in Conway. Something that was big enough for a studio and store. Not long after she discovered a warehouse that looked perfect on paper, $1,000 a month, 5,000 square feet. This was an amazing deal, more than enough space AND it was within her price range. Angie thought it was too good to be true and even if it was, the place must be caving in or need quite a lot of work. However, she called anyway. The owner told her that the warehouse was still available, but the rent was going to triple as they were adding heat and air. Knowing she couldn’t afford over $3,000 a month for rent she was disappointed, but decided just to look at it. As it turns out the warehouse had been a storage building for sixty years. There was dust two inches thick on the floor and spider webs all over the corners, but it didn’t matter because Angie immediately fell in love. She didn’t see the dust, all she saw was racks full of lingerie, dressing rooms, and a giant boudoir studio. This was her new store and studio. She didn’t know how, but she knew she was going to have to make this work.
Angie told the owner she would take it. Over the next few months somehow, someway, she and Brian were able to scrape together the money to make it all happen. Heat and air was installed into the building, they cleaned the dirt off the floor and started to organize a build out. Once the walls were built, racks were installed and Angie started to stock her new store with all the lingerie from her studio. However, it was a huge 2,000 square foot store. After stocking all the items she had bought, the store was basically empty. She knew she had to buy more lingerie, but she didn’t have the money. She didn’t even have the money to pay the rent for the building! She needed more money for more stuff and more employees. Angie couldn’t run a boudoir studio and a lingerie store all by herself, but there just wasn’t enough money for all the things she needed. Despite all the roadblocks Angie decided that she hadn’t come this far to give up. She opened the store & prayed. In January of that year the store actually did $5,000 in sales! Not amazing considering rent is $3,200, but the store made some money!!!
During the first few months of the store being open Angie began to get inquiries about bras. Not A cups or B cups, women wanted to know if she had bigger bras. At the time Angie didn’t really know anything about bras, but she started doing research. She realized that there was a real need for plus size bras and lingerie. Women had such a hard time finding it because hardly anyone was making it! Angie researched bigger bras and lingerie, she set out to find solutions for basic problems women were having. After finding solutions, vendors, and successfully locating bigger bras, Angie started to bring in bras up to O and lingerie up to 6X, nursing bras, and plus size swimwear. She was going to create a place that would meet the needs of every single woman who walked through her doors. Again knowing she didn’t have the money for any of this. She trusted that everything would work out, she hired more employees and purchased more items. By the grace of God they have been able to pay their employees and buy new items for two and a half years now!
The road to creating such a wonderful place for women has not been an easy one. There have been many challenges along the way and there will continue to be. Sales fluctuate all the time, women still bring ill fitting lingerie into their sessions, and money isn’t exactly in excess. However, despite all the roadblocks, despite all the stress and chaos, Angie wouldn’t have it any other way. She hasn't had a paycheck in years, and works very long hours. To her though, it’s all worth it. Seeing client's faces light up during a session, helping ladies discover their actual bra size, and watching a woman’s whole attitude change when she finds lingerie that makes her feel sexy, makes Angie’s whole day. Seeing the joy she gives women on a daily basis has helped bring the joy back into her own life. The goal of this business was never to make millions selling bras. The goal was to help Angie heal by helping other women heal. We want to create a community of women who lift each other up and love each other. We can’t do that if we don’t love ourselves first. As long as Angie is healing, and as long as we’re helping other women heal in the process, our doors are going to stay open, and we’re going to keep bringing in things that will help even more women. We’re going to keep donating to women’s shelters, and finding more vendors that sell plus size items.
Angie has now changed the store to appointment only. She has decided to run every aspect of the business herself in order to make sure every woman who walks in is treated with respect, love and receives the best customer service available. To schedule a bra fitting with her or a personal shopping appointment click here.
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ANGIE DAVIS is a lingerie boutique & boudoir studio in Conway, Arkansas. Shop our website or make an appointment to shop the store and let us help you find the perfect piece of lingerie or the perfect fitting bra. We carry bras up to O, nursing bras, lingerie up to 6X & much more! We also offer bridal registry & lingerie parties!
1131 Front St. Conway, AR 72032 - 501-450-4886 - [email protected]