We recently caught up with Jacqueline Bradley, the woman behind one of the newest and coolest boutiques on Styleshack. She is living her dream running her business in Michigan from LA, starting her own fashion brand (more on that in another post!), and giving back to her community – all with incredible style and grace! Read on to learn more about this leading lady…

{SS}: Tell us about your career background and how you got started with the store?

I moved to Los Angeles from Michigan when I was 18 years old to pursue a career in acting and while I found success as an actress, the part of the industry I most enjoyed was the fashion and styling aspect. I was born with a love for clothing…always had it on my mind, it was my creative outlet alongside of acting but I really didn’t know how I could parlay that into a career at 22 years old with no formal fashion education. I started working as an assistant buyer for a store in Beverly Hills and eventually took over as head buyer for all women’s clothing. About 2 years in as a buyer, I knew I wanted to do my own thing. So in 2006 I opened Athalia’s Boutique

{SS}: What inspired you to start this business?

I love business, all aspects of it
nothing excites me more! I had a lot of contacts with manufacturers, vendors and sales reps going in, plus being in LA made products/markets really accessible. So I called my family and asked their thoughts on opening a boutique in Midland. They gave me their blessing and within a few months I opened the store there. I moved back to Michigan for over a year in the early stages and that was best decision I ever made. I got to know my customer, be apart of the community, work with Northwood University, the downtown development board and bring new ideas and standards to the fashion arena in the Tri-Cities. Eventually, I moved back to LA and I continue to run the business from here, just unconventionally; I run a long-distance business. I fly to Michigan monthly and stay for a week. I bring product, meet with my staff, host events, go to Chamber meetings and community events. You could say I live a double life!

{SS}: What are some lessons learned or business advice you have gained throughout your journey of being a business owner?

People want to start their own business or become financially independent. But I feel the only way to end up being a successful entrepreneur, is to find a way to APPRECIATE the risks. The repeated failures, doors in your face, financial uncertainty, long hours, travel, isolation—all on something you have no guarantee will be successful. You have to appreciate these risks, be in love with the process not the result.

{SS}: What do you love about your job?

I love the people I’ve gotten meet over the last 10 years. The business has been this extraordinary platform for me to use for community outreach, mentorship, travel and philanthropic efforts. It’s surreal when I think of all the incredible individuals I have encountered…Michigan especially has this spirit and the people there are so inspiring.

{SS}: Who inspires you in the Fashion/Design world?

Black Halo’s founder, Laurel Berman. She started the fashion house herself, built it from the ground up, and owns it outright. She is a widely talented designer; the fit on her garments is impeccable. Seriously one of the best. Her Jackie O dress is what they are known for…it’s up there with the likes of the DVF wrap dress! Speaking of DVF, Diane von Furstenberg is another woman I have to mention. She is this legendary designer who brings quality and classic beauty to everything she does but still has this remarkable way of evolving the label. It always feels so fresh while delivering notes from the past.

{SS}: Your secret to work/life balance?

Ha! I can’t say this is my strong suit. I think it helps having some distance from the store at times. I am free to work on my other passion, a healing arts non profit called True Connection. We are a women driven organization based in LA offering our services to elementary and middle schools, focusing on mindfulness education, art and mediation and we are starting to work on a SEL curriculum, (social emotional learning) something to offer to educators/schools that have a desire to implement this kind of material into our education system.

{SS}: What are your current favorite product(s) in store?

I am obsessed with the S’well Bottles, they are the most useful fashion accessory I have ever owned! The colors/patterns that they come in are stunning and they are made of non-leaching and non-toxic 18/8 stainless steel that keep your drinks cold for 24 hours and hot for 12.

I also love all the new spring blouses that are coming in; my personal favorite is this Bell Sleeve Blue & White Striped Top. It is so feminine and sweet! Also, totally digging the Cold-Shoulder Cut-Out Tops, this piece is easy to style and is just the right amount of sexy, one that I think women of all ages can pull off and look incredible wearing.

{SS}: Are there any new products or lines that you will be carrying that you are excited about?

Yes! While we have done their classic “foldable flat”, Yosi Samra has expanded their line and we are going to be carrying a larger selection of their flip-flops, espadrilles and slide on sandals for spring and summer…all in cool washed out denim with touches of reds, blues, and cream fabrics. Also, a really well done Athleisure/workout line called NUX. Their leggings have this awesome compresion, beautiful details with easy, quality fabric tops to pull over for a casual daytime look.

{SS}: In regards to your personal style, do you have a signature accessory?

Yes, I have this crystal necklace that a Jewelry designer friend made custom for me. It’s an oval shaped crystal on a black/brushed gold tiny linked chain. It is so simple, but goes with everything! Also, I am such an LA girl, I wear denim and a white shirt almost everyday…my fiance laughs daily, like “I see you’ve got your uniform on!” So to change it up I wear a long bodied blazer or a really stand out shoe.

White Button Down Top with Split Back / Black Orchid Harper Skinny Boyfriend Jean

{SS}: A few items in your "Styleshack" A.K.A closet that you can't live without?

My Black Halo Jackie Jumpsuit in black, it is my most coveted piece. The fabric is top-notch, it has that classic fitted bodice with a perfectly draped neck, cap sleeve and a high waist seam with wide legs—seriously makes my 5’2” self look like I have legs for days! Also my camel trench coat, I have had it most of my adult life and I love it. Best investment I have ever made as far as clothing goes.

{SS}: Who inspires your style? Favorite Style Icon?

Fashion bloggers are killing it these days, I feel they bring such realness to what they put on and it feels genuine and creative. My two favorites right now are Jules Sarinana from Sincerely Jules and Aimee Song from Song of Style. These two speak to my low-key fashion side, being a  Southern California transplant; they are chic, effortless and minimal. I can’t say enough about them; they are two really big fashion powerhouses with the business savvy to match.

{SS}: Style Archetype?

{SS}: What is the "2016 Spring Trend" you are most looking forward to?

I love maxi dresses, and beautifully printed ones with sleeves are going to be everything this spring. You’ll certainly see me in them and plenty to choose from at Athalia’s!

{SS}: Favorite fashion, lifestyle, food or business blog?

I mentioned earlier, Sincerely Jules and Song of Style for blogs, but I also read The Business of Fashion (BoF) they are a leading publication in the global fashion industry…it’s like the fashion world's Wall Street Journal, I love hearing about mergers, buyouts, design house transitions just overall industry analysis and business news.

{SS}: Favorite places to shop?

Boutiques! I am so blessed to live in such a huge metropolitan city…but I stay on the Westside for the most part so Venice and Santa Monica are my stomping grounds. Abbot Kinney Boulevard and Main Street are my go to streets for an afternoon of shopping. I love Bazar on Abbot Kinney for super unique gift items, antiques and artistic treasures and Hiptique on Main Street for great fashion pieces.

When I am in Michigan I love to stop into Rebel Magnolia in downtown Midland, these girls are masters at “picking” and refurbishing antiques, furniture and other treasures. They have this vibe that is unbeatable and so unique!

{SS}: Favorite place to eat?

In LA it is SugarFish, I am a sushi fanatic (it’s a problem!). I only eat traditional sushi, no rolls or hot extras, straight up fish and they do it the best. Just order the Nozawa…trust me, and let the amazing dining experience begin!

In Michigan it is Whine in Midland, they always have a well curated menu, the wine selection is fantastic and it's just a few doors down from the boutique! Win-Win!

{SS}:  Favorite quote or words to live by?

This is paraphrased but it goes something like…

“…Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine…And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others…”

You can shop Athalia's Boutique at http://www.styleshack.com/shop/athalias-boutique!