After working at the same company for 14 years and only months after having her first child, Tonya Smith was laid off. But, what many would have seen as a closed door, Tonya saw as an opportunity. On her way into the office for the very last time, Tonya ceremoniously dropped off the paperwork to establish her LLC, B. Royal Boutique.
“We have to look at things half full,” Tonya says. “Some things don’t work out, other things do. If nothing else, I woke up this morning.”
Opening her own boutique had been a dream for Tonya since she discovered the shopping opportunities on the North Side of Chicago and fell in love. She daydreamed about opening up a shop right in the middle of the city, but as she was well aware of by 2014, life happens. One month after establishing her LLC in Chicago, Tonya’s husband was accepted into MIT. They packed up and moved across the country with their child, and before they knew it, they had another baby on the way.
B. Royal Boutique was officially up and running in 2016 out of Cambridge, Massachusetts. In those early days, working on B. Royal was Tonya’s outlet— the days were spent taking care of her 2 kids, and her “me time” in the wee hours of the night soon became “B. Royal time.”
“It’s tough being a mom to really young kids and trying to run a business, and doing it without a lot of family support,” Tonya shares with us. “Still, I don’t think I’m an anomaly at all. There are moms out there who do all these things and look good at the same time.”
Tonya is right: of the almost 13 million women-owned businesses in the U.S., according to mompowerment, “it’s estimated that 1 in 3 businesses is owned by a mom.” That translates to over 4 million businesses run by moms.
If you’re wondering how they do it, you’re not alone. For many of us, it is hard enough to take care of a plant. While browsing through B. Royal Boutique’s Instagram page, it is evident that Tonya often uses the method of work/life integration— an alternative to the idea of work/life balance, Berkeley Haas describes as “an approach that creates more synergies between all areas that define ‘life’: work, home/family, community, personal well-being, and health.”
@broyalboutique: “Mompreneur moments… trying to take some photos😆😉❤️”
“Everyone deserves to look good and feel confident,” Tonya says.
B. Royal Boutique provides women the tools they need to look and feel confident. Carrying sizes from XS-XL and 1X-3X, B. Royal Boutique caters to women of all sizes. Tonya founded the store with plus-sized women at the forefront of her mind.
“A lot of my friends and family struggle with fashion because of size, feeling like options weren’t out there for them, or feeling like… that wasn’t supposed to be a part of them,” Tonya explains. When she started personal styling and shopping for people, “they would say, I never would have picked that for myself. But why not?”
“You are gorgeous, you are smart, and you should walk into [every room] looking like all of that.”
Despite the fact that most American women fall into the range of average or plus-sized, Refinery29 states that “images of these body types [make] up less than 2% of what we see” in the media. Tonya thinks that we as women deserve better, and her mission is largely rooted in ensuring that her clients don’t just like their clothes, but love and feel confident in them.
“My personal philosophy in life is to treat others the way I want to be treated, and I extend that philosophy to my business,” Tonya says. “At the end of the day, I sell women’s clothing, as do millions of stores. What sets you apart is the personal touch you provide.”
B. Royal Boutique loves their customers, and they have a whole social media highlight dedicated to showcasing women rocking their garments. Further, B. Royal Boutique loves to host live shopping events with the public that are filled with laughter, music, and the occasional glass (or two!) of wine.
On April 29, 2021, Girls Nite Live is elated to be hosting B. Royal Boutique for a live shopping event with Tonya herself. You can click here to sign up. Until then, be sure to check out B. Royal Boutique’s website for their new spring line, and a special Mother’s Day discount!