Crystal Napier: Entrepreneur SpotlightDecember 6, 2021
What’s in an outfit? If you ask Crystal Napier, owner of Renee’s Boutique, the answer is “everything”. It’s your first impression, a reflection of who you are and who you want to be. And it’s not just about telling other people either—clothing makes confidence and confidence makes a person!
A long veteran of the corporate world, Crystal Napier realized the importance of presentation for the professional. A put-together style signals a put-together person, so if you’re serious about what you do, you can’t do it in rags. And it’s not just fit or style, but accessories and colors too.
Having spent more than enough time coaching people through this in her corporate career, Crystal realized that there was a need in the greater world for that service. That market was perpetually underserved, especially for curvy women whose needs were already neglected by mainstream fashion.
During Crystal’s MBA program, she conceived of Renee’s Boutique having been inspired by a client who ran her own boutique, especially in how she used it to give back to the community. A year after finishing her MBA, the opportunity to commit to starting her business presented itself. As her husband put it at the time, “It was now or never”. Renee’s Boutique opened as a professional styling and shopping provider for curvy women to help them be confident and assertive in their own bodies.
Today, Renee’s Boutique has grown, opening up a full clothing line and expanded shopping services to interested men, but still maintains its identity as a safe space for curvy women. As well, Crystal hosts workshops on professional dress and interviews, and connects people with the resources they need to succeed.
Covid brought its own set of challenges, but Crystal saw opportunities in it. Renee’s Boutique introduced an athleisure line suited for work from home and opened virtual stylings, along with coaching services on how to present yourself on Zoom. For the future, Renee’s Boutique is looking to go physical with its own retail storefront and expand its community programs by partnering with other businesses in the area.
Crystal is a graduate of the CIC Entrepreneurship Workshop and a CIC loan recipient with great things to say about her experiences. The workshop helped her orient her business, especially with regards to accounting which she struggled with, even given her banking background.
More than that though, she says her best experiences with the program have been the connections that she made. CIC gave her the opportunity to connect with consulting resources, leaders, other graduates, and staff. This network has given her something to rely on during times of confusion or stress. The loan itself went to business expenses, inventory, and marketing to promote her business, help that she’s grateful to have.
Beyond the business sphere, Crystal is an active participant in the Charlottesville community, through a number of organizations, especially the Piedmont Housing Alliance. As a board member, she helps create and provide affordable housing and diverse inclusion in a space that has historically been a challenge for African Americans. She’s proud to make the firm statement of Anti-Racism and to be a part of the mission to take initiative to improve people’s lives. She is also grateful for her husband’s support through the years, and thankful for all the blessings that life has given her, including her 3 year old son and all the wonderful people in her life.
You can find Renee’s Boutique at: reneesboutiquellc.com
Thanks to Crystal for the interview, and to our intern John for telling her story.