ROUND ROCK, Texas — Haute Boutique Owner and CEO Amy Kerley said selling clothes from her boutique has always brought her joy, but she never imagined that should would change someone's life along the way. Everything changed for Kerley when she met 21-year-old Amber Peña in April during a fashion show hosted by Haute Boutique welcoming the non-profit Beautifully Loved.
"We let them model some clothes and let our 'Hauties' love on them and put them under just some really positive influence of other females and just say, 'Look, we're here for you and you are beautiful.' It was a really amazing opportunity. So, that is how we met Amber," said Kerley.
"I don't think we had a dry eye in the entire building. I mean, from the time that they walked in the door. We organize a rack for them. It has their name on them. It has all of the outfits that they change into for the night, any jewelry that they're supposed to wear. It's kind of like walking into every little girl's fantasy of playing dress up and all these beautiful things that fit them. We're a size-inclusive boutique," Kerley continued.
During the pandemic, the Haute Boutique turned to live sales on Facebook and that's where the group of girls with Beautifully Loved modeled their clothes. Beautifully Loved is a nonprofit that offers pamper days, photography, clothing support, self-esteem workshops, design programs, fashion events and care packages for chronically ill children and their families.
"Our programs are built to empower women, give them reminders of self-love, self-worth and just feel beautiful," said Aysa Province, Beautifully Loved's founder. "Our goal is to build them up and help them shine and remember that beauty that's inside."
Amber Peña's mom, Erica Peña, said their hearts were full that night.
"When she came out, I just see this glow in her. She was happy," said Erica Peña.
Amber Peña passed away from her cancer just a couple months after the fashion show on June 7. Just a couple days after Amber Peña's death, Erica Peña called Kerley and asked for a special favor.
"Her mom had just reached out to me and just said, 'She never felt as good as she did then when she was here with you guys putting on those clothes. We would love nothing more than for her to be buried in something from here,'" said Peña. "It was really, truly one of the greatest honors of my life."
Kerley and Peña picked out the perfect outfit for Amber Peña, which is a black and white dress and leggings. It's something both of them believe Amber Peña would've loved.
"She's my unbreakable cookie. She will continue to live with us," said Erica Peña.
Kerley said they didn't realize the impression they left, but it's one they'll continue to try to leave on others, like Amber.
If you'd like to donate to Beautifully Loved, click here.
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