A former nuclear industry worker switched gears in her career by opening a women's clothing boutique on Aug. 8 in Five Points after an injury to her leg on the job left her worried for the future.
In light of her accident, Changu Sellers opened Unis Boutique. The boutique is located at 631 Harden St. above The Baked Bear and in order to get to the shop's entrance, one must walk up the outdoor steps near the Harden Street shops.
The boutique offers an array of clothing and accessories for a variety of fashion tastes, and it showcases Sellers', an immigrant from Zambia, Africa, love of timeless fashion.
“It came to my mind thinking, I’ve always loved fashion, which was inspired by my mom when I was so little,” Sellers said.
Sellers characterizes her store as a variety boutique that sells different styles, sizes and outfits with a mission. In a press release, she said the store offers “unique, affordable clothing and accessories for women of all sizes including plus-sizes."
“The initial focus was on the plus size women, but it’s kind of a surprise to me that even women that are not plus size have been coming. So that’s why you see that I have just a little bit of everything,” Sellers said. “I would say a variety is always my biggest thing because everybody’s taste is different. I mean, fashion is not one size fits all.”
Inside the boutique, clothing racks display shirts, skirts and dresses. The back walls showcase pants and other garments hung in an orderly fashion. There is also a small sitting area toward the back of the shop for casual shoppers to rest.
In addition to clothing, shoppers can find Sellers' handcrafted bracelets placed alongside sunglasses, handbags and earrings on a long display table.
Sellers wants to be customer-centric to reflect the authentic, small-business nature of the boutique.
“I interact with anybody that comes into the store, find out what they need, like what they would want to see in the store because that’s what I’m going to focus on. I’m going to focus on what my customers need. The attention is not going to be on me,” Sellers said.
Trina Nkhazi, a program manager and digital banking worker, has been a fan of Unis since its opening. She is drawn to the colorful apparel and admires Sellers for starting up her own business.
“I’m looking for some type of expressive design that shows somebody took the care to either create this opportunity in fashion or to share an opportunity in fashion that can make women beautiful, and I think that shop does that,” Nkhazi said.
Sellers especially prides herself in the handcrafted bracelets. The jewelry is made of crystal-like beads that stretch on the wrist, making them an easy and effortless accessory that are available in a wide range of colors.
“To me it’s kind of personal because if somebody likes what I’m making, it just makes me happy," Sellers said. "The fact that I make it myself, I don’t overprice it."
Wanda Cleveland, another satisfied customer of Unis, is a retired retail employee. Her experience with Unis received gold stars because of the boutique's pleasant atmosphere and Sellers' personality.
"She's excellent, yes," Cleveland said. "Very good customer service, I love her."
Unis is in a prime location with Five Points being a social hub for campus. Sellers recognizes that, as she is adamant about making sure her pieces are affordable, keeping the students' bank accounts in mind.
Cleveland can concur that Unis is perfect for college students because the clothes are good quality, affordable and fashionable.
Sellers hopes for continued success in the future of her business, but she is still learning the ins and outs of the occupation.
“I’m working on creating my own brand of clothing,” Sellers said. “I’m sketching things I want to be part of my collection. Sometimes I could be watching a movie or something like that … and I see a timeless piece, and I kind of pause and then scratch it out.”
Unis Boutique's hours are Tuesday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.