By Kasy Long
Nov 17, 2022
In March 2020, Keegan Beeler received her driver’s license a week before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. This was supposed to be a fun time for the Sycamore, who was then a high school student living in West Terre Haute. But her plans, like everyone else’s, changed overnight when the world practically shut down.
Beeler, now a first-year student studying insurance and risk management with minors in marketing and sales and negotiation, intended to find a part-time job to earn money to pay for gasoline. Her plan was always to work at a clothing store or restaurant. However, it was difficult to find a job during the pandemic, so Beeler explored another possibility: opening her own business on Instagram.
“I saw other people selling clothes and products on Instagram, so I thought I could try it,” she said. Beeler was particularly interested in selling custom shirts. She had already learned how to add stencils to shirts and brighten shirts with bleach and tie-dye. She hoped to make money from home. “I quickly learned what people are interested in buying. I saw the trends and learned what people wanted.”
And thus, Graceful Bloom Boutique was born.
Beeler sells a variety of apparel and accessories, including shirts, pants, jackets, dresses, rompers, active wear, shoes, hair accessories, and more. The merchandise features “Western boho” styles, casual outfits, and outfits designed for fun nights out with friends.
“I want my customers to love whatever they pick out. My customers can feel good about what they’re wearing and feel beautiful,” Beeler said.
Striving for positivity, many of Beeler’s merchandise items carry heartwarming, optimistic messages, encouraging customers to be kind, know their worth, make happiness a habit, understand that everything happens for a reason, and know that the world is a better place with them in it. Many of Beeler’s inventory items also feature Indiana State’s colors and repurposed logos from other apparel. This includes flannel shirts she has bleached and tie-dyed to promote her Sycamore pride.
Owning a business as a teenager came with its challenges. Beeler had to learn how to obtain a vendor’s license, what inventory to buy, and when to restock. Thankfully, she had the ambition to adapt to changes throughout the entire process.
“I tend to be a people-pleaser and I want to make everyone happy. But I can’t always do that. I have to make decisions to benefit my business,” Beeler said.
Before the Fall 2022 semester began, Beeler’s home storage space was filled up with her inventory. She needed more space, so she decided to open a storefront location at 640 Wabash Avenue in Terre Haute, within walking distance of Indiana State’s campus. She also continues to operate her Instagram business.
“This was a ‘big girl decision’ to open my own shop, but it was the right decision,” said Beeler, who operates the business around her class schedule. She’s available to be in the shop during most afternoons. When she doesn’t have customers and isn’t fulfilling online orders, she finds time to finish her homework. “It helps to know I have a place where I can focus on my work without any distractions.”
The physical store provides plenty of space for Beeler’s merchandise, and it also gives her the opportunity to be involved in the Terre Haute community as a small business owner.
“I want to be an impactful part of the community. I want my customers to be confident with what they buy and I want to make a difference,” she said.
As a Sycamore, Beeler is learning more about business strategies through her classes in the Scott College of Business. A Networks scholar, she engages with faculty and other peers interested in financial services. As a scholar, she frequently participates in learning opportunities in Indiana State’s Networks Professional Development Program [NPDP].
As Beeler advances in her academic program, she’ll have opportunities to attend conferences, work with a corporate mentor, travel, and gain firsthand experience with internships. The NPDP prepares Sycamores for future careers with mock interviews, industry visits, and other networking events.
“I’m learning how to connect with my customers who might come from diverse backgrounds,” Beeler said. She meets many different people at Indiana State, and this interaction has prepared her to work with a diverse clientele.
Beeler’s dream job is to own boutiques. She plans to continue operating Graceful Bloom Boutique as long as she can, and she hopes to branch out and own other shops. “This is exactly what I want to do [with my career],” she said.
She has already tasted success. With her eye on the latest trends and a growing knowledge about sales, Beeler is ready to travel wherever her future takes her. Because successful business owners wear BLUE!