Walk into Nicole Bien’ Aime’s new boutique on McNichols and you’ll see the most delightful use of color, style and bling in northwest Detroit. The Voluptuous Bien’ Aime Boutique at 19326 W McNichols has a giant, hot pink couch, sparkling sneakers and clothes to suit every size and function.
The brightness isn’t limited to the store. It illuminates McNichols with promise of new business and retail partnerships. Grand River Avenue has shops up and down the strip from Evergreen to Southfield as retailers are reviving McNichols with sassy storefronts.
“We wanted a store that felt like the suburbs. A big array of styles, especially for curvy women, who incidentally, make up nearly 70 percent of women shoppers,” says Bien’ Aime, 44, the owner. “We’ve got stripes, flavors, and fun for big sexy ladies.
Bien’ Aime is a big sexy lady with a dollop of style and a practical aura. A resident of the Grandmont-Rosedale neighborhood she availed herself of the ProsperUS Detroit entrepreneurship program sponsored by Southwest Solutions, TechTown Detroit’s Retail Boot Camp and its SWOT City programs.
Larissa Carr, director of development for Grandmont-Rosedale Development Corporation, encouraged Nicole to apply for entrepreneurial training to become stronger and wiser in business acumen. The boutique owner was one of five 2017 boot camp graduates to receive a Kickstart award including $5,000 worth of subsidies, which allowed her to open a permanent store.
Bien’ Aime learned well how to budget, market and stock merchandise. She then worked her way up from the basement shop in her home to a pop-up location inside the Grand River Workplace to the current shop that opened early this month with a mini-fashion show and balloon sculptures everywhere.
Neighborhood small businesses are essential to sustainable economic development in Detroit,” says Amy Rencher, director of TechTown’s SWOT City program. “Voluptuous Bien’Aime fills an important niche for Detroit residents who seek to shop local, while helping strengthen one of our city’s most vital commercial districts.”
Indeed, the McNichols strip has a couple new beauty salons just east of Evergreen and other stores in the works. Carr sees a whole new push to involve local residents like Bien’ Aime opening new businesses to serve friends and neighbors.
Some of the storefronts have been empty for several decades. With development help from her organization and TechTown, activity is percolating throughout Grandmont-Rosedale.
The best part of having her own, dedicated shop is “space,” says Bien’ Aime as she offers a mimosa and a fruit salad to a guest.
Behind the curtains is a place to iron, steam and organize clothing before placing it out for customers. A mini-kitchen to make treats for guests. She hopes to have parties after store hours where customers can shop and chat.
“We could grow even bigger, branch out and have a few stores in Detroit,” she says.
For more information on Voluptuous Bien’ Aime Boutique please click here. You can also call (313) 338-8910.
Editor’s Note: This small business feature is sponsored by Bank of America. To learn more about Bank of America’s many programs and resources for small business owners visit: https://www.bankofamerica.com/smallbusiness/business-financing.go
— Top photo by Michelle & Chris Gerard