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Val’s Boutique and Benefit Your Life

Looking Great and Aspiring to a Healthier Lifestyle

In this issue of Everything Knoxville, we are excited to be featuring two area young women entrepreneurs, Valerie Guess, founder and president of Val’s Boutique, and Courtney Holden, founder and president of Benefit Your Life. Val’s Boutique is a trendy West Knoxville women’s boutique featuring the very latest in fashion trends from top designers at affordable prices for women of all ages. Benefit Your Life, which embraces a philosophy of “be as natural as you want to be,” is an all-natural store promoting a healthy, nutritious and energized lifestyle.

Both women also exemplify a growing national trend in our country which finds women entrepreneurs launching businesses at a rate of 2-to-1 over their male counterparts. Valerie and Courtney are also outstanding role models for other young women considering a career as a self-employed entrepreneur.

Everything Knoxville: Many readers are understandably curious about what led you to launch your own companies. What was the inspiration behind each of your small business endeavors?

Valerie Guess: Since a young age I have always said that I will work for myself one day. I wanted to be involved in a business that was exciting and often changing. Well, as we all know, over the years, fashion has changed dramatically. But it’s funny how it also comes full circle. Trends that I hated in the 80’s are some of my favorites these days.

Courtney Holden: When you find something that makes you a better person or changes your life, you cannot help but to share it with everyone who wants to know! Benefit Your Life, and the idea of creating a business, was inspired by discovering (simple) life changing habits for myself and making those healing habits tangible to many others.

EK: Courtney, would you say that personal food allergies that you discovered as a youth were instrumental in the founding of Benefit Your Life in 2008? Turning adversity into opportunity?

Courtney: The building blocks for our bodies are no longer farmed proteins, fruits and vegetables. We are building our bodies with chemical laden foods and a fast food society. At a young age, I was just a product of our society. I received a mental diagnosis and knew it wasn’t just a disorder in my head. Benefit Your Life was founded when I became a certified Natural Health Professional and was able to make sense of the warning signs my body was putting off.

EK: Valerie, Val’s Boutique, which you introduced in 2007, was originally a home-based business. How difficult has it been to transition to a brick-and-mortar store?

Valerie: So much easier! I was starting to have back problems lugging all those clothes in and out of my car. I still do home parties and special events every once and a while because I built a great group of customers and don’t want to let them down. In fact, I recently got off the road from a four-day event in Nashville. They are the women that believed and supported me from the beginning. I will never forget that. I will also support Junior League events around Christmas time; this is another place that helped grow my business.

EK: There are numerous outlets where consumers can purchase healthy, organic and gluten-free products. Why do more and more customers choose Benefit Your Life over your competitors?

Courtney: Because we relate to those that need help! All of the employees at Benefit Your Life have been sick or diagnosed with illness and have made remarkable strides by making simple, natural changes in our diets and household. We don’t suggest something that might work. We show you what will work!

EK: In a very competitive women’s fashion marketplace, how does Val’s Boutique maintain a competitive advantage over other retail apparel stores?

Valerie: You are right! So many women’s fashion boutiques are popping up everywhere! I try really hard to keep my prices below most boutiques. And it was really important for me to hire the right people. I want customers to feel welcome in the store and get excellent customer service.

EK: Although each of your respective companies are only several years old, what changes have you implemented in response to today’s rapidly evolving marketplace?

Courtney: We listen to our customers’ needs. We are not going to load you up with ingredients and suggest you cook every meal of the day if your lifestyle is fast-paced and full of commitments. We adapt to each customer’s needs. Our goal is to find a remarkable product for you that will make you feel better, make your life more simple and give you hope for a brighter future.

Valerie: Val’s Boutique has changed in so many ways. I have learned what customers like and really listen to make that happen. I feel I have become a better buyer and found my niche. When I first started, I carried too many different types of things and could not figure out if I wanted to be a gift shop or clothing shop. I have finally learned how to balance that.

EK: What role, if any, does social media and online play in your businesses?

Valerie: EVERYTHING! Between Everything Knoxville and Facebook, my business has grown so much. I have a website that I’m hoping to concentrate more on and see if that can give women the opportunity outside of Knoxville to purchase from Val’s Boutique.

Courtney: Most people do not think of Knoxville, TN as a society of wellness. However, since our website launched in 2007, we ship daily to states such as Colorado and California. We think of these states having the most healthy resources. This just goes to show you that we are all in the same boat and all know something good when we find it!

EK: What recommendations would you offer to other aspiring young women entrepreneurs who may be considering launching a business of their own?

Courtney: Passion is contagious! Find what you are passionate about. Find what truly makes a difference in your life. Dig in deep to learn the nuts and bolts of your passion and then share the “socks off” of your concept, in your desired business atmosphere.

Valerie: Figure out what makes you happy. I feel Val’s Boutique is a part of me and not a job. I love every minute of it and would not change anything. I don’t mind going by the store before and after hours. I never think of it as a burden. I feel that if you are doing what makes you happy, it will all fall into place. I will say though that starting small and growing over time was perfect for my situation. It really shows that hard work will pay off.

EK: Any final thoughts?

Valerie: I want to thank all my customers, family and friends that have supported me from the beginning. I could not be where I am today if it wasn’t for you. (I sound like I am giving a speech for an Academy Award, but I really mean it.)

Courtney: Go with your gut! Read, research and discover why you show symptoms, inflammation or imbalance in your body. Once our mind understands what our gut already knows, we become a powerhouse. “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you…” (Jeremiah 29:11)

Val’s Boutique
7309 Kingston Pike
Knoxville, TN 37919

Benefit Your Life
620 N. Campbell Station Road
Knoxville, TN 37934

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