Today is International Women’s Day—a global initiative dedicated to honoring women’s achievements. At Beyond, we are surrounded by talented, hardworking women—not just our Beyond Employees, but also the female business owners we partner with every day.
Women-owned businesses are one of the fastest growing types of small businesses in the US, accounting for 4 out of every 10 businesses. Supporting local, women-owned businesses is one of the easiest ways to help them continue to grow—from shopping local, to following them on social media, or simply by learning their stories.
The path to entrepreneurship comes in many forms, and for Beyond client, Vanessa Martinez, the journey to opening her own boutique was as unexpected as it was exciting.
For many women, transitioning back to work after having a child can be difficult. For Vanessa Martinez, she faced twice the difficulty—taking the plunge into entrepreneurship as a new mom. After spending the first year of her twins’ lives as a stay-at-home mom, Martinez was ready to re-enter the workforce, she just wasn’t sure where to start.
After driving by a vacant retail space nestled in the heart of Old Town Camarillo, CA, an idea sparked for Martinez. She realized there weren’t any women’s boutiques in Camarillo, and as someone who has fluctuated between sizes, she knew there was a need for a spot that could cater to everyone—an inclusive and welcoming clothing store.
Martinez describes the following months as a series of serendipitous moments where everything “just fell into place.” With no previous retail experience, Martinez leaned on the help of her husband and family to get Alas Boutique up and running in a matter of months.
The Boutique, which celebrated its first birthday in December, has gained a loyal following in the Camarillo community and continues to grow.
An Inclusive Fashion Destination
Martinez didn’t always dream of owning her own clothing store, but her eye for fashion and her own struggle to find stylish clothes while her size shifted, helped shape the identity of her business.
The goal at Alas Boutique is simple—to provide fashionable clothing for everyone, at an affordable price, in a welcoming environment. Martinez carries sizes XS through 3X, so women of all sizes can find something they feel confident in.
“I try to cater to everybody—if a high schooler comes in with her grandma, I want them both to leave with something they love. There’s a university in this community, but there’s also a lot of elderly people, and I want this to be a space where everyone can shop,” Martinez said.
Boutiques can sometimes carry a stigma of being exclusive or unwelcoming, so Martinez makes it a point to provide a warm experience, building relationships with all her customers.
Creating a Community
Camarillo is a small town, so it didn’t take long for word to get out about Alas Boutique. By fostering strong relationships and providing thoughtful fashion consultation, Martinez has created a loyal following.
“I try to know everybody. The more often people come in, the more I learn their style. I’m honest about what I think will work for them—I don’t ever want to sell something just to get the sale. It’s not about that,” Martinez said.
For Martinez, the most rewarding part of her business is helping her customers feel beautiful. She pushes her clients to step outside their comfort zone, styling them in outfits they might not usually pick out for themselves. Many of the shoppers at Alas are moms who usually need to throw something on quickly, so Martinez helps them by picking out full outfits they can grab on the go.
“Making people feel comfortable and getting them outside their element is what makes my customers come back,” Martinez said. “I’ve been in their shoes, so helping them feel beautiful is important to me.”
Women Supporting Women
After working in a male dominated field during the early parts of her career, Martinez was excited to join a community of mostly women-owned businesses. From managing her store to keeping up with her twins, Martinez is no stranger to the challenges of running her own business—but the support network of other women is what keeps her going.
“It’s a small community—but it’s such a privilege to be a part of this group of women. We partner together and I always try to be that hand reaching out that I would have wanted when I was getting started,” Martinez says.
From calligraphy classes to other pop-up boutiques, Martinez supports, welcomes and promotes other women-owned businesses in her area.
“There’s a space for everyone—everyone has something different to offer to a specific demographic. It doesn’t need to be a competition,” Martinez emphasized.
Alas and Beyond
Martinez’s attitude of supporting women is also what brought her to Beyond. When Patricia Logan, a Beyond Business Advocate, approached her about upgrading to Beyond Payments, she was excited to move to a more sophisticated payment system.
“Patricia has been amazing and has been helping me from the moment I transitioned to Beyond,” Martinez said. “You get that trust from her—she just gets it. In any relationship, you have to build trust, and Patricia has really done that.”
As Alas Boutique continues to grow, Martinez is excited about expanding online and helping a larger demographic of women feel confident. Like many small businesses, her success wouldn’t be possible without the support of her friends and family.
“For me, my family has been everything. I wouldn’t be here without my parents helping with my kids. Knowing I’m making my family proud—that’s really what matters,” Martinez said.
When it comes to women-owned businesses, there is much to celebrate. At Beyond, we’re proud to work with clients like Alas Boutique and The Refill Shoppe, who are empowering women and making a difference in their communities.
- Alas Boutique
- Small Business Association
- The Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC)
- U.S. News