Daughter Sets Up Next Door to Mom’s Detroit Store: What She’s Selling
While Candace Williams was working with her mother at Teaser’s Boutique in Detroit, she noticed many people walking their dogs along Livernois Avenue in the mornings.
One rainy day led to a business idea, and Barks Fifth Avenue was born.
“It was pouring rain and I was like, ‘This lady is walking her dog – this dog needs a raincoat,’ Williams said. She then went to a trade show with her mother, Paulette Williams, and one vendors were selling dog products “Everything was sort of coming full circle.”
Then the news came that the former tenant of her current space was moving – and it’s right next to her mother’s business.
Now the dogs, whom Candace Williams calls her “bark stars,” can walk in with their humans for a dressing room experience and walk out wearing dresses, hoodies, jerseys, sweaters, tuxedos, capes, shirts, denim, and some designer clothes and accessories, such as Chanel-inspired necklaces or hoodies emblazoned with “Pawlenciaga.”
Candace Williams wants her boutique, located at 19359 Livernois, to be like an experience.
“I want (customers) to feel like they’re treating their dog the same way they would if they went to their high-end store to shop,” Williams said. “I want their pets to feel like that. And even though they don’t have their pets, I still want them to feel like it’s a high end store for my pet and I want them to feel good.
Williams comes from a family of entrepreneurs. His mother, Paulette Williams, has operated the Teaser boutique for more than 20 years on Detroit’s Fashion Avenue, and Candace has joined her as an associate.
“It’s the most awesome thing that could happen to me – to have him around and want him to follow, a bit, in my footsteps,” Paulette Williams said of her daughter’s new store.
Teaser’s, located at 19355 Livernois, is known for its experience in women’s fashion. Customers can find shirts, pants, skirts, dresses and accessories.
The boutique also hosts fashion shows, which Paulette Williams says she started hosting about nine years ago. She sets up stages and tracks in the parking lot, on the sidewalks and sometimes on the street. Her first fashion show brought together 50 models.
“It’s pretty much like a stylist-type environment here,” Paulette Williams said in a July interview. One of her wishes is to make sure her customers don’t look like others, so she aims to find unique pieces.
The store is also known for its involvement in a few events on Avenue de la Mode: Jazz on the Ave, Light Up Livernois and Juneteenth Jubilee.
“I think people are always looking forward to what we do in terms of the fashion shows that we do, and then we do a lot of in-store events,” Candace Williams said. Later, she added, “We do many different types of events that include people and our customers.”
And the mother-daughter duo, both from Commerce Township, are making sure the dogs aren’t left out of popular fashion shows hosted by Teaser’s. Barks Fifth Avenue puts on a runway with friendly puppies showing off their outfits.
Mother-daughter bond and then some
Candace Williams said opening the nearby business was beneficial not only for her and her mother’s family bond, but also for their bond as business partners and event collaborators.
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“It’s crazy because it was definitely not planned, but at the same time it worked,” said Candace Williams. “I have always said that my mother is my biggest supporter and that she is my mentor. … She’s been an entrepreneur all her life.
She added, “I think that probably helped us bond. I feel like he’s one of my best friends. I talk to her a lot throughout the day, even when we’re not there.
When Teaser’s opened its doors 22 years ago, Paulette Williams said it was the only business on what is known as Avenue Plaza.
“I was the first here and there wasn’t much going on,” she said. “A lot of empty buildings. And we had a skinny little sidewalk with all the trees they said were historic.
“But it wasn’t bad. I knew this area was a great area, a safe area and a promising area because of its past. The shops that once stood on the street – everything was just alive.
Over time, it began to have new business neighbors and the area filled in to become what it is today – with over 200 black-owned businesses in the area. Dolphin Michael, president of the Avenue of Fashion Business Association, said the legal description begins at Clarita Avenue to St. Martins Avenue, but the organization considers businesses up to Eight Mile and after Clarita and Seven Mile as part of the historic district.
Michael said the historic business district was built in the 1960s and features several high-end retail stores. He remembers taking the bus to the shops as a young adult to buy clothes. He said a few businesses have remained in the area since its early days, such as House of Morrison Shoe Repair, Dixon Barber Shop and Terry’s Wigs & Lashes.
He said the fashion avenue is completely different now. After the 1967 riot, there was a flight from the city. However, the Black Detroiters began purchasing property and buildings in the neighborhood.
“One of the reasons this is such a viable business district is that so many businesses hold their own on the property,” Michael said. “So they are not affected by rent increases. It’s a solid group of black businesses on Livernois.
Michael said Paulette Williams had a huge impact with the fashion shows on the avenue.
“It was one of Jazz on the Ave’s biggest draws,” Michael said. The event took place on August 6. “She was integral to the success of Jazz on the Ave and Livernois. If you have 7 to 8,000 people on the avenue who have never been to Livernois, and who walk up and down, enter the shops, they discover firsthand what the avenue is.
And Michael said the business district is growing. He said a setback occurred during construction which added turning lanes and new curbs to the avenue which began in April 2019 and lasted nine months. Then, the COVID-19 pandemic created a slow period.
“But there was so much energy at the start of last year and this year,” Michael said. “You can really make a difference. Pedestrian traffic has increased. »
Paulette Williams said her vision for the store when it opened 20 years ago reflects exactly what she does now. And thanks to the arrival of her daughter, she knows that her store will always be in good hands. She plans to continue showing Candace Williams the pros and cons of owning a business.
“By my age, not that I’m ready to leave here, but I know she’s next,” said Paulette Williams. “And, for years, I always wondered if something were to happen to me, what would happen to that? So now I feel like it’s going to be okay. The teasers will continue.
Learn more about Teaser’s Boutique on the store’s website at teasersboutique.online. And to find more information about Barks Fifth Avenue, visit the website at www.barksfifth.com.