Erik Johnston, director of Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development, recently presented Taylor Jennings and Lauren Tetterton with an Outstanding Business Award at the Virginia Main Street Awards Luncheon at the Downtown Intersections summer training held at The Virginian in Lynchburg.
“These awards were given for outstanding achievements in comprehensive downtown revitalization efforts,” according to Tamyra Vest, executive director of Destination Downtown South Boston.
Southern Frills won the Outstanding Business Award, recognizing an outstanding downtown business. The business was chosen based on its operation; its impact of the business on downtown; how it has strengthened the business mix; the skills, savvy and success of the business owners and staff; the physical appearance of the business; their customer service; their civic and promotional participation; and their jobs created.
Southern Frills is a trendy women’s clothing boutique located in Downtown South Boston.
Vest said, “Southern Frills is one of South Boston’s successes in the Community Business Launch Program. They have given South Boston a largely needed quality, affordable and unique boutique that rivals the styles and trends of big cities at competitive prices.”
Tetterton and Jennings began online sales out of their homes in order to generate cash flow while their brick and mortar store was undergoing a complete renovation. By the end of 2017, Southern Frills’ brick and mortar location was open for business. The grand opening weekend was an overwhelming success, and the business continues to keep customers walking on the streets of Downtown South Boston with their signature logo white bags.
“One amazing fact that the owners are proud of is that they started their business entirely from the $10,000 grant they were awarded. No personal investment or business loans were initially taken out to fund the renovations or launch the business,” Vest said.
Tetterton and Jennings generated enough sales online, while renovations were being done before opening the store to be able to open their doors and fill the stores with new inventory for their grand opening.
“What an accomplishment. It is also a true testament to how this program truly changed the lives of these individuals and gave them the opportunity to launch a growing and successful business and bring back life to an abandoned downtown building,” Vest added.
They have helped individuals in the area spend money locally on clothing and accessories, rather than shopping at boutiques out of the area. Their e-commerce and social media efforts play a big part in strengthening their business mix, she added.
Facebook drives their business for the local and regional market. Their Instagram page reaches the same market as well as an extended market on more of a national basis.
“Without e-commerce and social media marketing, their business would have a hard time surviving in today’s economy,” Vest said.
Tetterton and Jennings say that their generation is reverting back to the “shop small” movement rather than big-box retailers and that they are proud to be a part of this movement in their personal lives as well as professionally by owning their own small business.
In March 2019, Tetterton was named the 2018-2019 Young Professional of the Year by the Halifax County Chamber of Commerce.
“This award is an amazing honor to recognize area young professionals in our community who are achieving noteworthy accomplishments and contributing to the overall quality of life in South Boston/Halifax County,” Vest said.
Southern Frills is a member of the Halifax County Chamber of Commerce, Destination Downtown South Boston Partner, and the Halifax County/South Boston Retail Merchants Association. The business donates to non-profit organizations monthly such as The Halifax County Cancer Association, The Prizery, The Halifax Chamber of Commerce via the Virginia Cantaloupe Festival Sponsorship and Annual Awards Meeting donation, The Halifax County/South Boston Museum and much more.
They also are involved with Heather Chipps Photography in a senior role model program where high school seniors apply and are chosen based on various factors such as extracurricular activities. The selected applicants get discounts on senior portrait sessions with the studio and discounts on clothes from Southern Frills. Southern Frills hosts a welcome revelation for the girls on the day of the senior portraits with outfits borrowed from Southern Frills.
Tetterton and Jennings said they feel that it’s imperative to give back to the community that continues to support their business.