Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Business runs in the family at woman-owned boutique

When Ann Wolf had back surgery in April and was forced to spend several long weeks at home to recuperate, the hardest part wasn’t dealing with the pain, remembering to take medication, or even gingerly moving between her bed and the couch a few times a day. It was that she couldn’t be at work with her employees and loyal customers.

“Just last night, one employee brought me a lovely get-well card from a customer. Others have brought meals,” Wolf said. “It’s a fun place where it’s easy to become friends with your customers. It’s like shopping with your girlfriends.”

She added, “We’re always doing events and chatting about the newest fashion trends. I hope to get back there soon.”

Wolf’s Brightside Boutique has been proudly serving Highland Village, Flower Mound, Lewisville, and surrounding areas at its current location in The Shops at Highland Village for 15 years. But its family-owned and operated legacy goes back even further — all the way to 1996 when Ann operated under a different business name. Over those two-plus decades, Brightside has become known as the go-to place for fun and stylish women’s clothing, must-have jewelry and accessories, and top-of-the-line Merle Norman Cosmetics.

If you need a makeover for the prom, a wedding, or another special event, Brightside can help. If you’re looking for a denim jacket, cute open-toed shoes, a Brighton handbag, cocktail dress, or Lane boots, they have them. If you have a daughter who needs beauty tips and skincare advice — well, you get the idea.

“It’s everything a woman could want in one store,” Wolf said with a laugh.

That last statement is where the story of Brightside really gets interesting. Beyond being a boutique that helps teens, tweens, and women of all ages feel beautiful, it’s also a premier launching pad for girls looking for a safe place for their first job. To date, Wolf has had roughly 30 high school or college girls choose the boutique as their first job — many of whom have gone on to be nurses, teachers, and fellow entrepreneurs.

Officials at Baylor, TWU, and UNT have also reached out to Wolf and sent women to Brightside as interns.

That list of young employees includes her own daughters, Bethany and Bekah. Granted, both are grown now and out of the house, but Bethany is a longtime hairdresser and occasionally still comes into the store to help customers for special events. Bekah has her Master’s in counseling and actually co-owned Brightside with her mom for 10 years.

Wolf said Bekah was the reason she started the boutique in the first place.

As the story goes, Bekah was just a young girl when she was diagnosed with dyslexia. At the time, specialists feared she wouldn’t be able to go to college or excel on her own. A former teacher who comes from a family of entrepreneurs, Ann wouldn’t accept that fate for her daughter. She bought her cosmetic store and simultaneously homeschooled Bekah in the back of the store throughout junior high and high school. Unsurprisingly, Bekah excelled and is now a third-generation business owner.

“I learned a long time ago as a parent that you don’t put a big old ceiling on your kids’ success,” Ann said. She and her husband, Jack, also have two sons, Jonathan and Jesse, who have run everything from the cash register to handling IT and janitorial duties at the store. “You can do anything, and I think it was beneficial for Bekah to learn at her own pace.”

As for going beyond her own children to mentor other young women, Wolf said those opportunities have been a blessing.

“Through the years, I’ve had mothers begging me to hire their daughters. I just believe in giving girls a safe place to work, and in doing so, they learn valuable people skills, a little about fashion, and even how to run a business,” Wolf said. “With the interns, I take them to market and teach them how to buy, manage inventory, and how to handle merchandising. They learn a lot, and it’s such a privilege to mentor them and see them succeed. It means a lot.”

For that reason and so many more, Brightside Boutique has redefined what it means to change women’s lives.

Visit Brightside Boutique at 1400 Shoal Creek, #150 in The Shops at Highland Village.

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