Boutiques are now a common fixture on Jefferson Street in Franklin, but for two owners, the path to opening a shop has been a long and winding one.
FrenChic Owner Tanya Stainbrook and Small Town Girl Boutique Owner Amy Hess have both opened their stores within the past eight months, and hope the unique aspects of their shops continue to attract customers.
Stainbrook’s journey started in Germany, where she was raised by an American father and a mother from the former Yugoslavia. Her mother was able to escape war-torn areas before Stainbrook was born through a German work visa, but the rest of her mother’s side of the family remained in Yugoslavia, now Bosnia, as the war continued throughout her childhood.
“It’s crazy to think that just in the ’90s, my family was in a concentration camp in Bosnia/Yugoslavia,” Stainbrook said. “My parents and siblings and I were lucky enough to be in Germany thankfully because my dad was an American soldier, but my other family wasn’t so lucky.”
Stainbrook moved to Arizona with her parents during her freshman year of high school. While she’s lived in Indiana for 18 years, her attachment to the style of furniture and home items she saw in Europe stuck with her, and on Oct. 1, she opened her own shop.
“I was around really antique things I wanted to bring to Franklin,” Stainbrook said. “I’ve always loved French Décor and in Europe, I was around a lot of old things. Some things people might think were old and dusty I was drawn to.”
The year prior she got her start in 2020 and helped found the Whiteland Farmer’s Market, so local artisans and farmers could connect with the community.
Now with her own storefront, there’s room to grow. French Décor is multifaceted, and Stainbrook said she wanted to highlight that through an extensive boutique that includes two floors and a patio.
“There are several different variations, whether you like French country, French provincial, Tuscan French, shabby chic, country ranch,” Stainbrook said. “A lot of people may have what they think French décor is, but there’s a lot of variations. If someone has a French style they are looking for, they will find it here.”
Along with furniture, FrenChic features garden statues, moss plants, candles, antique frames, bath soaks, tea, vintage clothing, jewelry, purses, and artwork from local artists. FrenChic also has a back patio, which Stainbrook calls a “catio,” because of the cats the boutique houses. When people rent the patio for events, 15% of the rental fee goes to support Johnson County Community Cats, a non-profit organization that neuters, vaccinates and puts rescued cats up for adoption, according to the organization’s website.
“It’s giving people a place they can use but also donates to charity,” Stainbrook said. “If you don’t like cats, then you should really support the foundation because they fix cats who are feral so they don’t reproduce.”
A rotating staff of seven employees are able to help patrons sort through the thousands of items the store has, she said.
“We have to go out and travel constantly to find new things to add to the store. We revamp the store every three months so customers don’t get bored with the way it looks,” Stainbrook said. “Whether or not people buy something, we hope they find different ideas they can take home and do themselves. We want to share our ideas with the public, and when you walk in, we want it to feel like you’re in a different place.”
Small Town Girl Boutique
Hess started her business in 2016, long before she opened her own store on April 22. Before that, she’d been making and collecting items for years, and over time decided to turn her hobby into a business.
“I’ve always had a passion for clothes and putting stuff together,” Hess said. “I sold everything in my dining room to mostly local friends and families, I got introduced to farmers markets, wineries, and I’d set up and travel. I’ve rented space in a couple of buildings but never had my own store. I thought it would be the time to take that leap and either I’d crash or I’d fly.”
In the month and a half since the store opened, she hasn’t crashed. Hess said the support has been overwhelming after her family helped hang fixtures, paint the interior and bring the clothes to the store for the grand opening. Her daughter, Logan Hess, helps run the store.
“It’s honestly been amazing. During our grand opening, I had tears of happiness. I didn’t realize I had so many people behind me and supporting me,” she said. “It’s been a labor of love. The entire family has helped hang fixtures, paint and bring all the clothes over that had been stored.”
The store has a working jukebox, wide range of clothing, jewelry, accessories and interesting items. People can also customize their own clay pendants and hats, or pose for a photo in front of the wall with an angel wings mural.
“I feel like I’m really good at finding those unique pieces and helping people put their outfits together,” Hess said. “I feel like I have a niche for it. When people have no idea about what they’ll wear to a wedding, I’ll help them pick it out.”
Jewelry pieces have been among the most popular items in the store, she said.
“We carry a lot of unique jewels and have probably 12 different vendors for jewelry,” Hess said. “Our junk gypsy necklaces are really popular because they’re unique and you don’t see them anywhere. I still make some of the jewelry and I make all the flower pieces myself. I have a lot of crochet pieces and I love the ‘60s and ‘70s vibe.”