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Accelerators: This monthly series spotlights local people of color chasing their business dreams and paving the way for others. These are the stories of the entrepreneurs, trailblazers and risk-takers who are leading the way to the new Montgomery.

There aren’t many Black-owned businesses on Dexter Avenue. So, when clothing and accessories retailer Keiauna White took up temporary residence inside one of its most famous buildings, the formerly segregated downtown department store, she relished in the moment. 

That was winter of 2018. Before spring, White’s BeYoutiful Boutiques would have its own downtown Avenue address. 

“Being at Kress where my grandmother would have to shop down in the basement to doing a pop-up at the front door of the building was a milestone,” White said. “Being one of two Black businesses on Dexter Avenue, that’s major.” 

More: Ready to open doors: New-look Kress doesn’t shy away from history

Her spacious shop features a mix of trendy streetwear and accessories, wear-to-work clothing, body and home décor. White said she fell in love with fashion at an early age, taking cues from a stylish aunt named Gigi who she often visited in Florida. 

“That was the thrill of my childhood. She would always come home with bags of stuff. She doesn’t do big box shopping. She doesn’t do malls. So, we would always go in and out of these cute little boutiques and find unique items,” she said. 

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Beyoutiful Boutique on Dexter Ave. in Montgomery, Ala., on Thursday, Sept. 10, 2020.  (Photo: Jake Crandall/ Advertiser)

White launched her first retail business in 2013. It’s cycled through a few iterations since then. First, a brick and mortar consignment and vintage shop on Mulberry Street, then a mobile clothing store built out of a repurposed Fed Ex van. She was a bit too ahead of the curve on that venture. 

When she approached the city about securing a permit for the mobile store in 2014, no corresponding license existed. 

“At the time Montgomery had no license for even a food truck. They were like ‘what are you saying?’ ” 

Frustrated, though undeterred, she adapted. White rented the van out for private shopping events and parties. She even took it on the road to festivals and trade shows in Birmingham and Atlanta. Now that White has opened on Dexter, the van stays mostly parked. Though it can still be booked for private sales. 

When COVID-19 hit and non-essential businesses temporarily closed, she pivoted again. Inspired by televised home shopping network QVC’s model, White hosts hour-long live sales every Thursday on Facebook. She and her mother-in-law, who works as a part-time employee, present new arrivals while clients bid or comment to snag items. 

“We just get on and have fun. It’s become like a social event,” said White. “It’s so much more than selling a sweater. The ladies that I’ve built relationships with we get in here and at any moment we could be laughing, crying, praying, dancing.” 

The business owner places a high value on developing relationships. It’s what she’s built her brand around. 

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Owner Keiauna White and her cousin, Reggenia Baskin, during Facebook Live sale at Beyoutiful Boutique on Dexter Ave. in Montgomery, Ala., on Thursday, Sept. 10, 2020.  (Photo: Jake Crandall/ Advertiser)

Though equipped with an entrepreneurial mindset, White had no hands-on experience. So, she looked for people who did and began to grow professional networks. She sought support and advice from people who understood her vision: a business-minded aunt, an encouraging cousin and fashion-forward Gigi as her muse. 

So far, she has eschewed traditional funding methods, relying on a combination of self-funding and personal networks as opposed to bank loans. It’s proved to be a reliable method for small Black business owners whose applications are often rejected by creditors.

More: Turned away countless times, CEO Alfred Seawright advises black businesses to keep pushing

“Even in a bank that I built a relationship with, my first year was just proving to them ‘no you don’t have to put a hold on my checks,’ ” White said.  

It wasn’t easy. There was a lot to learn. How to run a business, find reliable fashion vendors and identify the store’s target customers. When White started out, she thought filling her boutique was as simple as buying items she liked. She knew very little about management and the liabilities that came with entrepreneurship. 

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Owner Keiauna White during a Facebook Live sale at Beyoutiful Boutique on Dexter Ave. in Montgomery, Ala., on Thursday, Sept. 10, 2020.  (Photo: Jake Crandall/ Advertiser)

“The planning is first. When you don’t know the ins and out about a business the first thing is to find a group or a mentor who’s proven to be successful in that area. Seek out professionals in that field, read, study and find someone or some group that you can attach yourself too,” White said. 

She joined Boutique Hub, a professional organization of small shop owners that offers services and training such as schedule blocking and employee insurance, as well as access to discounts on shipping and office supplies. White also joined the Chamber of Commerce.  

While her business offers her a much-desired freedom, it has required responsibility and sacrifice. There has been much time spent at work, away from her three children over the years.  

“It’s a rat race. There are not enough hours in the day,” said White. 

She’s figured out how to make it work, and she wouldn’t have it any other way. 

More: Black comic book creator opens Montgomery store to spotlight others like her

“I didn’t understand that your dream could actually be your business,” she said. “I am so happy. We still have a ways to go, but I’m coming to a point in my life where I see I’m really walking in my dream.” 

While the boutique’s prime location near downtown tourist sites is typically a boon, foot traffic has decreased significantly throughout the pandemic. Despite the drop in tourism, White still receives calls from her faithful clients, gently prodding her to reopen.  

She has appeased them, somewhat. For now, BeYoutiful Boutiques is operating on a reduced schedule on Tuesday, Thursday and Fridays from 12 to 6 p.m. On October 1, the shop will resume its regular hours of operation, Monday through Friday from 12 to 6 p.m. 

Contact Montgomery Advertiser reporter Safiya Charles at (334) 240-0121 or

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