Words by: Alexandra Scott

Photos by: Alexandra Scott & Savannah Garza

It is no secret that in the era of COVID-19 and the all-around whirlwind that has been 2020, many businesses have been forced to rethink how they reach their customers. Unsurprisingly, Chels Marie Boutique decided to keep its personal, client-targeted approach to make each customer feel safe, special, and beautiful.

Located on the corner of Twigg and Chaparral is a two-story dwelling that has blossomed into a store that welcomes all to find their expression through fashion. Chels Marie Boutique celebrated its one-year anniversary last November and has quickly become a staple in Downtown Corpus Christi. Its owner, Chelsea Nye, is no exception.

Chelsea was born and raised in Riviera, Texas as the youngest of four. She jokes about her “one-stoplight” town and the years growing up on a farm.

“My first job was working for my dad selling watermelons out of a flatbed trailer on the side of the road,” she laughs while discussing just how rough that can be for someone with her fair skin and icy-blonde hair.

While that may have been her first job, her first foray into the business world was running a “shop” out of a family van with her cousin and their crafts, so it’s easy to say the idea of opening up her own store started at a young age. She knew, while studying business management at Franciscan University in Ohio, that it was her dream to open a place where women could feel “known, beautiful, and loved”, but she had no idea how those three words would craft and shape her life.

Chels Marie Boutique is no stranger to a change of scenery. After her foray into custom pieces, Chelsea realized she wanted to share those moments with even more people, so she opened up Chels Marie Traveling Boutique in a repurposed trailer. The *original* plan was to have the trailer for a few years and then expand into a brick and mortar space. This plan quickly changed. Chelsea was walking around Downtown Corpus Christi and taking part in the Downtown Management District’s “Imagine the Possibilities Tour” when she saw the space that would soon house her dream.

It’s no surprise that the mother of four would pick a home with a full kitchen as the location for her boutique to grow. She’s the type of woman who creates welcoming environments wherever she goes, from her home to chairs on the front porch of her shop.

The journey hasn’t come without challenges. In the beginning, perception and the opinions of others weighed on her more than she likes to admit. Now, it’s all about the customer.

“Am I being personable? Am I connecting with the customers in my store? Am I providing good customer service? Those are the questions I ask myself now,” commented Chelsea while reflecting on the lessons she’s learned along the way.

It’s this personal touch that you see as she greets and engages with customers, even at a “social distance”. Creating an online shop for one-of-a-kind, vintage, or handmade pieces isn’t easy. It requires painstaking attention to detail, plenty of time, and the right motivation. Chelsea had all three.

Within the first several weeks of closures, it was clear that retail shops would soon have to say good-bye to the face to face encounters and genuine connection that they are known for. Nye knew she would have to increase her online presence and quickly revamped her Instagram profile and created a brand-new website that made shopping these unique pieces as easy as click and shop!

She wants to continue to cultivate a place that houses beautiful things that reflect each individual person, a place where anyone can find something. She wants to get to know her customers and hear their stories and views of downtown.

“A few years ago, everyone would have this negative feeling towards Corpus Christi in general,” pondered Nye, “Now people come in and are excited. They are changing their perspectives and have positive attitudes towards the change in downtown. People want to come downtown because it is safe and inviting.”

This is the energy that surrounds Chelsea and her store. Safe and inviting. Something that feels comfortable, feels like home. A place where you can feel recognized. A place with beautiful and unique items that fit and reflect all styles of people and the differences that make us uniquely beautiful.

Whether it’s through a mask and safely distanced, via social media, or at one of those ArtWalk evenings we miss so much, you’re guaranteed to find a place that makes you feel known, beautiful, and loved in conversation with Chelsea Nye and at Chels Marie Boutique.