By Lajeune Hollis
Fashion has always been Brittany Rae’s first passion. So much so that in 2021, she made it her full-time career and opened Richual Boutique—pronounced "ritual"—in Bridgeport, Connecticut, a curated thrift, vintage clothing and accessories shop.
Before opening the doors of this new chapter in her life, Rae was invested in the mental health field, having managed group homes and worked as a case worker and social worker in New York, where she was born and raised.
After losing loved ones to COVID-19, Rae did some soul-searching and decided to focus her energy on what she loved most: fashion.
“The pandemic definitely gave me the courage to say life is short and I should just go for it,” she shared.
And go for it she did. After visiting a friend in Bridgeport, Rae decided to relocate, noting that she liked “the diversity and culture” that downtown had. She was also inspired by the “art world” the city offered.
Rae opened her business and noted lower rents and grant opportunities as some of the silver lining to the pandemic for entrepreneurs. Since she started her business with her own capital, she was able to negotiate more with landlords.
"I love helping people, so owning my own boutique came very naturally. It went from a hobby to my full-time career."
But, it was a challenging time to open a business in the height of the pandemic, because shoppers were not coming out to stores like they previously did.
Rae’s solution was to offer private shopping at her boutique based on the shopper’s availability. She also offered online shopping on her website so that anyone across the country could purchase her products.
Richual Boutique features a mix of new, thrift and vintage styles. It offers trendy, fashionable, affordable clothing for both men and women, including furs, coats, shoes, handbags, accessories, jewelry and more.
For those looking for a special twist, Richual offers The Curated Thrift Box, a collection of 20 pieces of clothing or accessories valued at $200-$300, but at a cost of only $50. Shoppers are asked to indicate their sizes, preferred colors and tone, style and other key factors before Rae chooses what is added to their box. Because of her great fashion sense, the results have gotten rave reviews.
Rae hand-picks the pre-loved clothing available at Richual Boutique, using her keen eye for fashion and her knowledge of all the latest trends. She only selects fashion-forward, unique and on-trend items for her shop. Rae also works with designers who specialize in upcycling clothing and jewelry.
“I was kind of born into fashion,” said Rae. “Raised by very fashionable women, I have always been a shopper, have always thrifted, and I have all of these clothes that I collected. I love helping people, so owning my own boutique came very naturally. It went from a hobby to my full-time career.”
A shopper at heart, Rae admits that she thrifts almost every other day. She loves to travel too, which she says is “tied into thrifting” as she looks for unique pieces domestically or overseas.
Richual Boutique’s mission is to provide high-fashion designs and great material for little to no cost and to save the Earth by buying second-hand. Rae also believes in giving back by donating clothing to people who are experiencing homelessness.
As for what’s next for Richual Boutique, Rae hopes to expand and open additional locations throughout Connecticut. Her ultimate goal? To build a nationwide brand.
Richual Boutique is located in the Arcade Mall, 1001 Main Street, Suite 12, in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Find Richual Boutique online on Facebook, Instagram or at their online shop at shoprichual.com.
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