For Stacey Stark, owner of Queen Bling Boutique in Pearland, the transition from academia to entrepreneurship was not a difficult one considering she had a secret weapon up her sleeve: her mother's prior experience in the business world.
The Texas A&M University graduate taught high school for 10 years before opening the boutique at 1130 E. Broadway St. with a lot of help from her mother, Maxine, and from people she met in her previous profession.
Stacey credits Maxine's experience going to markets and meeting with vendors during her 35 years as a corporate meeting planner and event coordinator as a contributing factor to her success as a business owner.
"My mom and I started doing home shows once she retired," Stacey said. "We would have people come to my mom's house, and those went really well. So the opportunity kind of came about really quickly."
Having taught at Pearland High School and one year at Glenda Dawson High School, Stacey said she was looking for a break from teaching. When her mother retired, Stacey embraced her love of fashion and opened the boutique.
Maxine worked as a corporate buyer and planner for Saudi Aramco in Houston. The relationships she cultivated at the time helped her daughter learn about markets, event planning and decorating.
The biggest challenge in transitioning from the academic arena to the business world, Stacey said, was an initial lack of space. The boutique opened in May 2010 in a smaller suite within the same shopping center as the store's current location.
"We can fill up the boutique pretty quickly with merchandise, so we found out very quickly that we didn't have a lot of space," she said.
The shop added more space with its first expansion October 2011. The boutique moved again this past July to its current location at Suite 110, allowing Queen Bling to almost double in size.
In addition to the storefront, Queen Bling also offers an online store. However, Stacey said it does not feature remotely the amount of merchandise offered within the storefront.
"We like to get to know our costumers and help them," Stacey said. "We like that interaction with our customers, and that's something you're not going to get from a Dillard's or Macy's."
Maxine said the store carries a wide variety of fashion styles among various price ranges, from moderate to high-end items and everything in between. Clothing makes up a significant portion of the boutique's business, but the store also features a large gift section as well as traditional home accessories.
Although there are no plans to expand to other locations in the future, Stacey said the boutique plans to carry some merchandise for men, as requested by their customers.
Additionally, they are involved in giving back to the Pearland and nearby Friendswood communities through sponsorships, donations to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, and other events and organizations.
Stacey may have moved on from her career in education, but she still supports Pearland ISD. The Queen Bling owner purchases animals for the district's livestock show and served on the board of directors the last three years.
"There's definitely a lot of giving back that happens here that probably goes under the radar, but I am okay with that," she said. "For me, it's more about helping the community than getting the recognition."
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From students to employees
Owner Stacey Stark had a strong pool of candidates when it came to hiring a staff for her new business—former students from the Future Farmers of America program she taught at Pearland high schools.
"They would come and ask for a job, so that has been really great for me because I already knew a lot of them and their families," she said.
Queen Bling Boutique
1130 E. Broadway St., Ste. 110
Hours: Mon.–Fri. 10 a.m.–6 p.m., Sat. 10 a.m.–4 p.m., Closed Sunday