Some people are satisfied with a 9-to-5 routine and a career that lasts most of their lifetime.
Not Deria Brown.
The owner of Glam Box Boutique is always looking for her next challenge.
“I need to constantly reinvent myself,” she says. “Sometimes I ask myself when it will be enough, but that fire, it just burns!”
Born and raised on Flint’s north side, Brown attended Flint Community Schools and Mott Community College, where she studied business.
She passed the Series 7, a licensing exam for the financial industry.
“I was fascinated with money and how it worked, because I had so little of it, growing up,” says Brown. “It was the curiosity of it all that made me want to leap right in.”
Brown’s awe that some had money and financial security, while others lacked resources, kept her pushing forward. She started her career in 1998 as an investment advisor for American Express Financial Advisors in Grand Blanc, but after her youngest son Ethan’s birth, 12-hour work days wore on her. In 2004 she took a fairly big step, going to work at her family’s church alongside her husband. It was an altruistic path, for sure, but one she was happy to take.
At the church Brown and her husband worked with thousands of girls over the years, spiritually counseling them at a time when the community was at particular risk of sexually transmitted diseases and unplanned pregnancy.
“The girls in zip code 48505 are especially vulnerable,” Brown says. “It is the poorest zip code in the state of Michigan. I felt I needed to go back and help to empower girls even more.”
To that end, Brown started the Sparkle Pink Club in 2007, an organization that seeks to promote girls’ self-esteem and guide them to make better choices that lead to powerful lives. The group combats bullying, builds self-confidence, teaches etiquette, and strengthens mother-daughter relationships.
“If there is a wedge between them we seek to fill that gap so girls don’t continue to make poor choices,” Brown adds. “Moms can be so ‘uncool’ when you’re a teen, but we want to say, ‘Here’s what she is really saying.’”
The non-profit expanded to include chapters in 10 cities and annually holds Sparkle Pink conferences. The Flint-area conference will be held July 27-28 this year in Birch Run, Mich.
When it came to Brown’s professional career, she still wanted to advance. With no retail background, she opened Glam Box Boutique in 2016. She wanted to tap into her love of fashion, of all things girly and glamorous, and to make the endeavor something she could share with the community. Brown wanted to succeed in long-term business, too.
“I didn’t want to quit on myself,” she says, confessing she’d failed to see other endeavors to completion.
A chic enclave, Glam Box stocks clothing, stationery, accessories, shoes, vintage home goods, all-natural soaps, and body care products.
“I love everything in here,” Brown says of the space located at 3426 Miller Road. “My husband and I call it our fourth child!”
The Glam Box merchandise for little girls is sold in memory of Brown’s granddaughter who died in December 2016.
“I don’t know how and why that happened to us,” Brown says. “She was beautiful. When you lose a young child you lose a future. That was one of our darkest times. The boutique was a baby then, but we just kept going. I just felt like she had to have a voice here.”
Meanwhile, she continues using Sparkle Pink to give other girls a voice, partnering with major broadcast channels and local churches for the next conference. Retailers like Neiman Marcus have been past partners, sending perfume samples for the girls in attendance.
“Just for them to open it up and put it on was wonderful. Many of the girls had never had their own bottle of perfume,” says Brown.
Brown works with all ages, hoping to influence girls when they are young, schooling them as they mature and nipping at insecurity and self-loathing when signs appear. The program welcomes girls as young as 3.
“We make them stand up straight and teach them skills they might not otherwise be taught,” Brown says. She is proud to report 100 percent of Sparkle Pink Club members have gone to college and are employed.
Glam Box is open seven days a week and Brown says there’s a constant flow of customer traffic. Her partnership with Summerset Salon, to which Glam Box is attached, is a collaboration, not a competition, she adds.
Along with boutique-quality women’s clothes – offered at special discount rates through the weekly “$10 Closet” sale – customers can leave after a visit to Glam Box with a little more knowledge about their personal style.
“We regularly host events in-store to help ladies develop a custom look and work with a stylist,” Brown adds.
“We try so hard here with women who come into the boutique. We tell them that their size – any size – is OK.”
For more information about Glam Box Boutique visit www.glamboxshop.com or visit the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/shopglamnow. For more information about Deria Brown and Sparkle Pink Club, visit Sparkle Pink Club.