EMPORIA (KSNT) — Owning a business right now can be pretty tough, especially as so many small businesses have been forced to close because of the pandemic. So, we’re highlighting a few local businesses right here in our area to help.

Michelle Gifford is the owner, operator and designer of Claire & Gracie Boutique. It’s a clothing and accessory store she started after the birth of her first daughter, Claire. She added the name Gracie to the brand after the birth of her second daughter.

She started her business in Emporia making stylish clothes for girls. Then she started making shirts and other items for moms to match.

Gifford said starting a clothing line isn’t something that just comes easy. It’s actually become an investment to her and her family, as all of the money that goes into it comes from her own pocket.

“I’ve just reinvested in my business over and over again,” she said. “I’ve bought my printer, my sewing machine, everything like that,” she said. “And then a portion of it goes into my supplies whenever I buy shirts and stuff like that. You’re supporting a family, not just a bigger corporation.”

Gifford moved to a retail store to sell her items, partnering with Tallgrass Trends Boutique at 606 Commercial in Emporia.

The boutique is not her full-time job. Gifford is actually a physical education teacher at a local elementary school.

We found out about Claire & Gracie Boutique thanks to someone recommending her. If you have someone you think we should know, use our Share It feature or our mobile app.