Hmm . . . Where it all started . . .
Dainty Jewell’s is turning ten years old this month, and I’m so honest when I say I can’t believe it.
What a wonderful ride these past ten years have been! I’ve met SO many amazing young ladies, and I’ve designed well over 500 pieces — if not into the thousands (and I have the sample closet to prove it)! ?
In the past decade, I’ve hosted nearly twenty photoshoots and I’ve even launched a new brand, Peony Street Boutique. Dainty Jewell’s has been featured in publications like La Grande’s The Observer,People Magazine’s Style Watch, and USA Today, in addition to many blogs.
Over the years, I’ve learned soooooo many lessons through trial and error — both good and bad. Much has happened over this past decade, and I’ve been so blessed. The past five years, my husband has worked full time with me, and we’ve weathered a lot together, both good and bad!
Today, I’m going to dig back really far and tell the story of how Dainty Jewell’s came to be. My hope is that my story will inspire someone else to recognize her God-given talents and commit to using them for His glory. We’ve been given one life, and at the end, I hope each of us can show God that we’ve spent our energy and resources on the talents and callings He’s always had for us.
️I was sixteen at the time, homeschooled, and planning to go to college to be a dental hygienist.
My dad was a full-time traveling minister. As a teenager who, naturally, wanted to eat out and fellowship with my friends and other teens I met, I wanted to make a little extra spending money. My parents had always encouraged me to create, to use my God-given talents, to learn skills, etc., and I’d always enjoyed making unique accessories for myself. Even growing up, I liked to be unique in general: I didn’t want to blend in with the rest of the world or be status quo.
Over the years, I’d watched my mom make fun accessories and sell them at larger conferences. So in 2006, at the age of sixteen, I thought I’d give it a try! I made SO many unique, custom pieces. You name it: headbands, shoe clips, shoes, corsages . . . I began to sell them around during our travels, and I made several connections.
All this was happening back in the early days of Facebook. (Anybody remember those days?) ? I decided to create a photo album on my personal page and give my little business a name.
At the time I made this decision, we were in Wyoming with very spotty wifi. I remember freezing to death in our car, finding some random wifi connection, and deciding on a name. I’d always loved all things feminine and elegant, so the word dainty just fit. My middle name is Jewell, after my great-grandmother who ran an upscale clothing shop in southern Mississippi in the 50s. So it was official: Dainty Jewell’s was born — and it officially had a Facebook page! (Unfortunately, many of my small-beginnings “embarrassing” posts are still live on our page! ?)
I’ll always remember that my first customer paid $25 for her original Dainty Jewell’s headband. (Today, she is the wife to a well-known Christian artist!) From there, business really bloomed. I fulfilled and mailed out custom orders as they came in. Orders ranged anywhere from $10-$30. My customers loved their purchases and began to really connect and fall in love with the brand.
In the summer of 2010, I was headed to a youth conference and needed a few outfits for it. I didn’t want to go to the mall because I knew I would never find something that didn’t have to be layered a million times. There were NO modest shops back then, so I often went “thrifting,” as there was much more of a chance of me finding vintage pieces that were modest — and they were usually a fraction of the cost of mall prices.
I remember going thrifting with my best friend to look for those one-of-a-kind unique vintage pieces for the conference. I ended up finding a white Liz Claiborne short-sleeve 90s-style white linen dress. Of course, it came above my knees — and this was before layering slips were a thing. So I went to Joann’s and found a dupioni silk. From there, I added three ruffles to the length, a ruffle on the sleeves, and a ribbon bow: plain and simple, but MODEST and not LAYERED.[
People loved it! Many of them were already familiar with my little small business and were like, “Charity, you should sell these!” At first, I just told everyone no. But after I told literally fifty people I wasn’t going to do it, it finally clicked that maybe I should! I started telling people I’d launch a clothing collection on my page in two weeks.
Sure enough, with lots of help, I pulled it off. I sourced about 8-10 vintage pieces, and I embellished them and added that unique “dainty” touch. Before ruffles, lace, and bows were common, our signature look was ruffles and a dainty bow. At the time, I don’t think anyone realized what was being born. I know I didn’t even imagine what it would eventually become!
We used my best friend, Megan’s, 10.1-or-so megapixel Sony camera (Ha!), and we went into one of the rougher parts of the area where I lived and did our first photoshoot. Megan and I have the best memories from that shoot — so much fun! We actually even witnessed two cars crash (with no major injuries, thankfully!), from people trying to watch our photoshoot as they went by. ?
Megan and I would bring random props to our photoshoots: ottomans, dressers, etc. Nothing about my brand was cohesive or really “branded” in the beginning. We definitely started with small beginnings!
Dainty Jewell’s first collection, released in summer 2010, blew up! Again, this was before there was a lot of access to modest clothing like there is today. EVERYONE wanted these pieces — and the problem was that I only had 8-10 pieces! Sooo I began embellishing and redesigning more vintage pieces. Collection after collection, they would sell out within a couple of days because I was so limited in my supply. I would drive all over North Carolina to get fabrics and embellishments.
Shortly after, I met with my first seamstress, Miss Sally. She helped me create my first collection from scratch. Miss Sally would make the basic dress, and I would embellish it. Again, the demand was so great for these pieces that I was sewing 24/7 — and so was she! Before long, I had to find 2-3 more seamstresses.
During the early days of Dainty Jewell’s, there were SO many lessons learned that made me want to just quit. I remember several times crying over situations where I was treated rudely, criticized, or where snarky comments were made. My mom always told me just to do the right thing and let it go. I always felt like God worked the situations out for my good.
Before long, brides began contacting me to make their wedding party dresses. I found a wonderful group of ladies who sewed these for me. We were all stretched pretty thin, but we kept going.
In June of 2013, I married my wonderful husband and moved cross country (with only a rack of clothing, by the way!) and made my new home in Oregon. At this time, I knew I had to let my seamstresses go. So we began to manufacture, first trying out our Original Ruffle Skirt that I’d designed back in 2010. Finding the companies I wanted to work with was a huge process and a tedious journey! I contacted so many, I got refused, I was referred to other places, I received samples that were just awful . . . But over time, God led us to the perfect ones!
A week before my husband and I were married, a FedEx truck pulled up to my husband’s house and delivered several boxes of skirts. It was too funny as he sent me pictures of tons of skirts in the living room. Little did he know, that was just the beginning! From there, a little at a time, we began to manufacture my designs. We worked through several loops and holes. The design and manufacture process wasn’t easy back then, and it’s not now!
My husband and I moved Dainty Jewell’s’ office and “warehouse” into one bedroom of our first house. Nowadays, our customer care department wouldn’t even fit in that room! From there, we moved to two storefronts in our town. My husband hand-crafted several large shelves for them. We didn’t even think about buying shelves — we didn’t even realize we could!
We were bursting at the seams in these stores, and it was creating a buzz around town. We only had one option in our whole town. The largest building for rent we could find became available, and we moved there. There are so many memories from that building — some of the most memorable involving how some areas weren’t air-conditioned!
We continued to grow and continued to burst at the seams. That’s when we were blessed to buy property and build a 6,000-square-foot headquarters building.
Because we custom-built this building, we were able to make it exactly the way we wanted. We have an adorable showroom, beautiful customer care offices, and nice shipping and order fulfillment centers where our employees can work effectively. We have several photoshoots in this building. Everything about it is perfect! — AND we have A/C!
I don’t talk about this a lot because I have so many other things to do and think about, but I’ve learned a lot over the years. Remember, I didn’t go to school for this! My business knowledge came largely through trial and error.
Since the early days, we have released ten collections and produced hundreds of thousands of dresses . . . and the rest is history! God has blessed more abundantly than I ever thought or dared to dream. I have been privileged to train a team of 8-10 or so employees, and they are amazing!!!! Our customer care, warehouse team, order fulfillment team, and social media ladies are the absolute best.
We have a beautiful warehouse my husband headed up and had built in 2018.
We have been able to support tens to hundreds of causes from missions to humanitarian needs and more — you name it! Back in the very beginning, a home missions need was mentioned to me, and I felt compelled to help. I hosted an auction for a one-of-a-kind skirt and was able to mail the home missions church a check. To God be the glory! I knew at this moment that this business was created for much more than just producing clothing. God had entrusted us with it so that we could be a blessing to others. We’re just stewards, working for Him.
Originally, I literally wanted to be a dental hygenist. It was my dream! I didn’t even know I could sew. I didn’t know I could create. My talent was something God knew I had, and thankfully, my parents helped me cultivate it. And God blessed it.
14 For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. 15 And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey. 16 Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents. 17 And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two. 18 But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord’s money. 19 After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them. 20 And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more. 21 His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. 22 He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them. 23 His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. 24 Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: 25 And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine. 26 His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: 27 Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. 28 Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. 29 For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. 30 And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
God has given EACH of us abilities, personalities, and talents to use. How are we using them? Are we sitting on them? Do we even know what they are? Are we pursuing them in order to use them for His kingdom?
Yours may be playing an instrument, singing, cooking, crafting, working with church sound, creating graphics, decorating, photography, writing, or even designing clothing that could turn into a kingdom-minded business . . . What is it? How are you using it?
Thank you for joining me on this journey and my trip down memory lane! I’m hoping this story inspires many of you and that I can encourage you to believe that whatever it is that God wants you to do, you can do it!