Christy Carver never planned to own a boutique selling bridesmaid dresses. But it turns out that might be exactly where she belongs.
Carver, a single mom of a 2 1/2-year-old son, had done some work helping a local surgeon open his practice in Cary when her best friend, who owns Hayden Olivia Bridal in Charlotte, mentioned that the local territory for Bella Bridesmaid, a franchise of national bridesmaid dress boutiques, was for sale.
The more Carver talked about it with friends and families, along with Bella Bridesmaid's owner, she realized that it might be a perfect fit.
"It happened very quickly," she said. "I purchased it in September. We opened in November."
In many ways, the business is a dream come true. It allows Carver to make a better life for her son, Jasper-Jax, and also spend more time with him. Both goals have seemed impossible for her at times.
A few years ago, Carver was diagnosed with the very rare, painful and life-threatening disorder superior mesenteric artery syndrome. Carver has been in and out of the hospital and spent more than a year with a feeding tube. The syndrome affects digestion and causes many other issues. It is fatal for one in three people diagnosed with the illness.
"It's been a battle," she said. "... It's not easy, but it's completely worth it every single day."
At work, Carver helps her customers at a high point in their own lives. Many brides come into the store frustrated with a lack of options for their bridesmaids. Carver often sits down and talks to them about exactly what they want their wedding to look like before she starts pulling dresses for them to try on.
Bella Bridesmaid allows Carver a lot of freedom in the kinds of dresses that she stocks at her store. Designers include Jim Helm, Amsala, LulaKate, Coren Moore and more. She also offers shoes, jewelry and flower girl dresses. She travels to New York City to select dresses and meet the designers.
"I look for designers that really have integrity in their product and line and quality," she said. Dress prices range between $180 to $400.
And she truly does believe that the right kind of bridesmaid dress can be worn again. In fact, she has several in her closet that she wears on a regular basis, including to our recent interview.
"You can do it!" she said.
The business, which is open by appointment only, lets Carver, who lives in Fuquay-Varina, set her own hours. She can work at home once her son is in bed and sometimes brings him to the store (he once said "Jasper-Jax sell dresses.)"
And spending time with her son is what makes it all worthwhile.
"He was a miracle child," Carver said. 'The fact that I can be a mom and I have that to fight for. We have to make every day count because there could not be tomorrow."
Carver's shop is at the Lochmere Pavilion Shopping Center on Kildaire Farm Road in Cary. Click here for details and her contact information.
Go Ask Mom features local moms every Monday.