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Elly Nash, Baileigh Overton, Karlee Hinton, Taylor Nash, Kristen Jacobs and Madison Jacobs listen to Debi Bean, not shown, read the biblical story of Queen Esther at Grace's Closet. In May, after collecting dozens of children's gowns, tiaras and cosmetic jewelry, Gina Terry decided to open the store in the evening for princess-themed tea parties.
Daily photo by John Godbey
Elly Nash, Baileigh Overton, Karlee Hinton, Taylor Nash, Kristen Jacobs and Madison Jacobs listen to Debi Bean, not shown, read the biblical story of Queen Esther at Grace's Closet. In May, after collecting dozens of children's gowns, tiaras and cosmetic jewelry, Gina Terry decided to open the store in the evening for princess-themed tea parties.

Business founded on dreams
Grace's Closet in Moulton offers girls chance to be princesses

By Kristen Bishop
kbishop@decaturdaily.com ˇ 340-2443

MOULTON — Gina Terry, owner and manager of Grace's Closet, is in the business of making dreams come true.

Her first major success in the field was the establishment of the consignment shop on Moulton's downtown square. Named after Terry's mother, Janet Grace Rogers, the store is the product of her mother's life-long dream of owning her own boutique, said Terry.

"Mother has always wanted a store like this, and it was really always my dream, too," she said. "So I feel really blessed that we've had this opportunity."

After months of renovating the '20s-era building, the family opened Grace's Closet on April 4.

Terry said she purchases only name-brand clothing less than 3 years old and stocks a limited number of items to keep the store's appearance more like a high-end boutique than a common thrift store.

"I wanted to be able to offer consignment prices but still have nice stuff," she said.

Childhood dreams

Terry's career in wish fulfillment didn't end there. In May, she began turning little girls' princess fantasies into reality.

After collecting dozens of children's gowns, tiaras and cosmetic jewelry, Terry decided to open the store in the evening for princess-themed tea parties.

She and a team of hairstylists, mostly her friends and family members, spend about 45 minutes at the beginning of the parties fixing the girls' hair, dressing them in frilly gowns and transforming them into little princesses.

The makeover is followed by a "grown-up" royal tea party, story, craft, and — the highlight of the evening — a carriage ride through downtown Moulton.

Baileigh Overton celebrated her seventh birthday at the store Aug. 4. She and eight of her friends, ages 2 to 9, donned pink and white dresses, sparkling crowns over golden ringlets and "big-girl" shoes for the occasion.

When mom, Pam Overton, decided to join the fun and put on an evening gown herself, Baileigh told her she couldn't be a princess — she'd have to be the queen.

Though most girls love to play dress up, it's more than just pretend, said Terry. She spends about 10 minutes giving a "self-esteem speech," and hopes that each girl will leave feeling like they are royalty everyday — not just for the party.

"I feel that they need to know how special they are, and if they don't need it now, they will someday," said Terry. "I also tell them that a lot of times you see a princess walking alone. You can see her full beauty that way. So if the crowd is making her uncomfortable, that's OK."

Most of the parties have a religious theme where Terry will read Bible verses or tell stories about Biblical queens or princesses, but she said she can customize the program for individual preferences.

"If the family will allow us to do that, we would really like to, but we want everyone to be comfortable," she said.

The first tea party at Grace's Closet was with a Girl Scout troop on May 26. Terry said she knew she struck a chord when one of the girls looked at her and said, "I've never been this pretty before."

"Later, we were going around the room asking each girl what they wanted to do in life, and one said it was her dream to go on a carriage ride," said Terry. "I was so excited because I knew that dream would come true before the end of the night."

The Terrys' white carriage with wrought-iron décor and lanterns was originally an Amish buggy. Terry's husband, Maurice, purchased it from relatives in Tennessee and handmade most of the designs to create the perfect carriage for a little princess.

"That carriage has meant so much to me," said Terry. "Whenever I would get discouraged, I would just go look at the carriage and all the work he was doing, and it would give me encouragement."

The carriage has been such a success that Gina Terry is now booking it for weddings and other events, allowing Terry to add more dream-fulfilling successes to her growing resume.

The carriage's first bridal appearance was Saturday at Chapel Hill United Methodist Church in Decatur.

To book the carriage or to schedule a princess-themed tea party, call Grace's Closet at 974-4016.

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