Working four jobs while pursuing an associate degree from the University of Michigan-Flint left Ronita Ramsey with little spare time.
She split shifts between two restaurant positions, while clocking hours at an elder care facility and a doctor’s office as a medical assistant. Class work and studying required additional commitment.
Her bills were paid and she had no dependents to support, so Ramsey, 30, eventually realized the time she gave other companies could be committed toward building her own.
“I felt like, even though I was working four jobs, if I dropped dead today they would have replaced me,”
Ramsey’s epiphany helped give birth to Plush Clothing Boutique, one of Flint’s newest women’s shopping venues. But Plush isn’t just one more of the many local forays into retail by a rookie entrepreneur hoping her ideas have general appeal. Ramsey opened the shop in January, aiming to fill a particular market niche.
“Both of my sisters are plus-sized,” she says. “They would always run into this problem. They’d say, ‘That is so cute! Where did you find that? How come we couldn’t find something like it?’”
As a size eight Ramsey can’t wear most of the garments she stocks at the G-3490 Miller Road boutique. Still, she wants women like her sisters and those with curvier figures to have more options when choosing attire.
“I felt like there was a dire need in the market to have all women, to have every woman, be able to put on a dress and feel beautiful,” she says.
Her siblings were pleased Ramsey wanted to add to Flint’s relatively few outlets for fuller-figured shoppers.
“I brought the idea to them first and they were like, ‘Yes!’” she says.
Saving $8,000 of her own money, Ramsey planned and strategized through the end of last year. All the while, she took classes in business management, learning principles she would apply to the boutique’s operation. She graduated from University of Michigan-Flint this past spring.
“My ideas lined up with the course, so once I was done I put everything into motion,” Ramsey says.
She’d been laying the groundwork to open Plush Clothing since 2016, eventually developing a store logo and purchasing inventory.
“Actually, I was afraid, but I feel like fear has always been a hindrance of mine,” she says. “I am the world’s biggest procrastinator. I felt like if I didn’t do it then, I would have never done it.”
She ultimately quit three of her jobs. Today, with help from family, she operates Plush from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and by appointment, while still supporting herself with the doctor’s office job as she works to spread the word about Plush and build its clientele.
“Plush is more like a state of mind,” says Ramsey. “Have you ever heard kids say, ‘That was plushed out?’ It just means nice or ‘cute.’ You can say, ‘She is so plush!’ It just means beautiful.”
Along with clothing and shoes, the shop offers selections of everything from makeup and sunglasses to purses and scarves. “Shape wear” undergarments are also sold at Plush.
In a community of national clothing chain outlets and familiar shopping destinations, building a new retail brand can be more than a notion, but Ramsey is determined. She promotes Plush with appearances at “sip and shop” bazaars throughout the city, vending her wares and giving away t-shirts or other tokens.
Plush Clothing also sponsors weekly specials and store attractions, like its recent kids carnival that featured face painting, popcorn and hot dogs.
“Parents out shopping sometimes feel bad when they haven’t bought anything for the kids,” adds Ramsey. “So I always try and give them an incentive just to come in and browse around.”
Jade Morrow, 30, was Plush Clothing Boutique’s first customer and has been a loyal patron ever since. She says the store owner’s energy has been as important as its merchandise in bringing her back as a regular.
“She has an amazing personality, first of all,” Morrow says. “When I first inquired about an outfit she was just very personable. She makes you feel comfortable. She wanted to know about the occasion where I’d need the outfit, and whether she could give me her input.
“She just makes you feel like a woman, very sophisticated.”
For more information about Plush Clothing Boutique visit the store’s Facebook page.