We sat down with Jackie Randolph to talk about the clothing store, Amber’s Closet, that she co-founded with her daughter in 2020, the year of COVID-19.
Amber is the inspiration for your business – tell us about how that came to be.
Amber is Autistic, highly functioning but still unable to care for herself as an adult. She graduated from the Special Needs program at Champion High School in May 2019. We have tried for one year to apply for various jobs for her to have the opportunity to get out of the house and meet new folks. I was without work for four months with COVID and saw an ad on the Next-Door App for help needed for resale of items. We investigated it and turns out the woman had so much that we said hey there is enough here to start our own resale business! We needed supplies and at that time Beall’s was closing in Boerne, so we rented a U-Haul and picked up five boxes of hangers, and 12 Clothes racks. We started to sell online and out of the house, but our homeowners association was not too happy with this idea. We went around downtown Boerne to look for a potential spot for a retail location, several neighbors said to me that this was not a good time to start a business with the state our economy was in but I was determined to make it work. We found our current location in August and worked with our Landlord to get the space ready to move in, it needed significant repairs and upgrades. While waiting to move in we went to Boerne Market Days for two months to spread the word handing out flyers to everyone on why we were starting the business. We were delayed moving into our location for a few weeks and finally we got in and had our grand opening mid-October.
What are you offering in your location that people might not find elsewhere?
We have excellent quality items, some still with tags – items are higher class then what you could find at an everyday resale shop. We want to be known for our quality, cleanliness, and friendly environment.
How did you decide on your location?
We looked around all of Boerne – there were several wonderful locations to pick from, however, not too many landlords were willing to work with us on a reduced rate for our first year in business as a test to see if were successful, Paul Holekamp was willing to give us a shot at our business and made significant upgrades to the location for us to move in. We are really going on faith that God is going to allow us to be successful with our venture.
How has the first few seasons gone for you? Lessons learned? Challenges? Challenges really are that folks just don’t know that were here yet, we have had some good days and other really quiet days but it has given Amber something to do, a structured routine that she needs much like that she had in the school system. We get up get ready and go to the shop, we have made a small kitchen so we can have food during the day to make it easier for us to stay here and be comfortable.
What do you think the future holds for your business?
Its really in God’s hands however he wants this road to go for us. Either way we will be fine with the outcomes, I do hope that we can continue with the business for Amber’s sake, she really does need this for a daily routine vice sitting in front of video games.
How has the community responded to you?
Both the Hill Country New and The Boerne Star has written about us at no costs to us, women have come from all parts of town with donations to the store to ensure that we are successful. Other special need moms have heard of us and come in to talk to us and see how we got this business started and have told us they are in the same situation that we were in. There is no transportation for the special need’s young adults in the area, we live right on the line of Bexar and Kendall county so the ART Bus will not pick her up at our home which makes things even more difficult.
Groups / charities/ missions that are important to you?
As a military retiree my heart really goes to the food banks, hill country daily bread ministries, and united way with our young military service members that struggle to make ends meet on a month to month basis. Our military members make 11-15% lower incomes than the civilian counterparts.
Any advice to others with children that have disabilities or learning struggles?
Don’t give up! Find your purpose or calling to ensure that your son or daughter is included in whatever they might want to do. When Amber was at Middle School South, they said she couldn’t be a cheer leader, I said why not? While she might not be perfect at the routines she can still try, so she did, at Champion she was very active in the Softball program and helped with the football games as well. I have supported her in anything that she was interested in trying along the way!!
Any words to the community as a whole?
Were so very grateful for the support that we have had along the way, we would like to say thank you so much! Please continue to come and support Amber in her new venture.