By Heather Collins
What started as a few racks of clothing at an airbrush tanning salon in Scottsdale, Ariz., has turned into a multi-million dollar boutique anchored in central Indiana in only a few short but difficult years.
Christina Smith, who moved to Zionsville in 2015 to be near family, opened Closet Candy Boutique in Carmel’s Clay Terrace. It’s the company’s first brick-and-mortar store, but it had already gained quite a following across the nation before its August opening, garnering more than 1 million Facebook fans before it even opened its doors.
Despite its fast start, the road to success wasn’t easy. Smith’s husband and shop co-owner, Chad, was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in the midst of launching the boutique. The couple struggled to balance caring for their two children, opening a new store and Chad’s medical treatment.
Smith said the couple ploughed through the tough times by the grace of God and with a lot of coffee. Chad is now in remission.
“The biggest thing we took away from that experience is that with each other and our faith, we know now we can get through anything,” Smith said.
Smith didn’t start out intending to build a national clothing boutique. But when tanning salon clients requested she ship the few clothing items available for sale across the nation, she knew she was on to something.
Closet Candy Boutique launched online in 2012, and six weeks later, through the power of social media, it was making more than $100,000 in monthly sales. By the end of its first year online, Closet Candy Boutique had brought in more than $1 million in sales.
Since its launch, the company has fulfilled more than 300,000 online orders, donated $100,000 to charity and continues to operate debt-free.
The online store has seamlessly transitioned to a brick-and-mortar store in Clay Terrace. The store offers a boutique shopping experience that harkens to its online presence with lighting designed for selfies in dressing rooms and a colorful accent wall for photographs.
Betsy Simpson, 36, has followed the company on Instagram for more than two years. She moved from Scottsdale, where Closet Candy Boutique started, to Carmel in August and was shocked to the Instagram announcement that it was her new hometown.
“As much as I love the convenience of ordering online, it’s always great to go into the store and try the items on,” Simpson said. “The staff at Closet Candy Boutique are all so friendly and eager to help me pick out the perfect pieces.”
As a young professional who works as a physician assistant in breast surgical oncology for Indiana University Health Physicians West, Simpson said she loves that Closet Candy Boutique offers fun and trendy casual and work clothes.
The early success of Closet Candy Boutique has been a team effort. Smith has a keen eye for fashion, Chad has a background in marketing and design, and they share a faith that has helped them persevere through the challenges of opening a new business while battling cancer at the same time.
“You just realize that God brought the challenging times so that we could stop and remember to really appreciate the rewarding times,” Smith said.
Smith designs some of the items featured at Closet Candy Boutique. She describes the products offered at the shop as comfortable, cute, everyday clothing.
Many of the boutique’s online shoppers have asked for additional storefront locations. Smith said she plans to make that happen. Two more retail stores are in the planned, and the couple is eyeing another location in Indiana.
For more, visit closetcandyboutique.com.
BY THE NUMBERS
- 1 millon Facebook fans
- More than $1 million in first-year online sales
- Nearly 70,000 Instagram fans
- $100,000 donated to charity