Amy’s Story

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2011

Hello blogosphere!  My name is Amy and I own a boutique shoe store in Tampa, Florida called Big and Elegant.  I started this blog because I wanted to make a positive difference in the lives of women who are overcoming challenges on a daily basis to reach their goals and live their dreams.

Let me start from the beginning – I used to weigh 270 pounds and I wear a size 10w shoe.  I know what it’s like to go to stores and not fit comfortably in the chairs or to have to be bending over to get the box for the shoes that I was interested in (ironically my size was always placed all the way at the bottom).  I know the frustration that comes with trying to get a strap around your ankle knowing that this shoe is probably not made for me.  In my opinion, shopping for shoes was nothing more than a nightmare.

Beyond all of the unpleasant shopping experience, I found that I would go to stores or shops only to find that they didn’t carry my size or the styles that were available were simply not my taste.  I love my grandma, but I didn’t want to wear her shoes.

In 2002, I decided to stop feeling bad about it and to do something.  I decided to open a shoe store for women with big and/or wide feet where they could shop with pleasure, would not have to sacrifice fashion for comfort and walk out with their head held high.  The bottom line was I wanted a store that would consider the needs of my customers who have experienced the challenge of shopping for hard-to-find sizes.

My vision was and is a store that solves all of those issues I mentioned in addition to being an elegant boutique style store.  I wanted to make sure that our customers knew that having big or wide feet didn’t mean you can’t be elegant, hence the name of the store.  My dad used to tell me I could be big and elegant, one thing had nothing to do with the other.

1999

I was later diagnosed with Crohn’s disease and it did a couple of things.  First, it put a huge delay on the opening of the store for a while, but my dream never died; delay does not mean denial.  Despite making several attempts over the next several years, I was unable to fulfill my dream of opening the store.  I would just keep tucking the dream away in a drawer, bringing it out as much as possible and never giving up.  The second thing it did though was forced weight loss; taking me from a size 22 to my own comfortable size 12.

Finally, after 7 years of waiting, on January 2nd of 2008, with God’s help and the support of my family and close friends, I was able to open up my dream, Big and Elegant.  I was able to achieve the boutique-like style, comfortable seating, and other amenities all with a variety in styles, brands and prices and most importantly unparalleled customer service, quality and excellence.

It’s now 2013 and many things have changed, like the store location.  Giving up is not an option, so we just have to learn to reinvent ourselves and learn to do things differently.  We are currently using all we’ve learned and giving our customers a one on one service by offering a personal shopper experience.

I hope I encourage you to make lemonade out of your lemons and to keep your dreams in front of you and never give up.   I want to hear your story and more importantly, I want to be one of the places that you find comfort and solace in.

Always remember, don’t give up on your dream, if you wait, though it tarry, it will come to pass.

18 Comments

  1. What an uplifting and motivating story for all of us! Thank you for sharing your heart, your dream, and your successes; the world is waiting for your gifts!

    • Hi Christine:

      Thank you for your kind words and taking the time to read my story. I’m so happy it fullfilled its purpose which is to encourage, uplift and just help others put things into perspective and not lose faith. Have a blessed day.

      • My resolution is to leave my past in the past. New Year means we get to start over, and that is what i intend on doing. Reading stories from others who have had challenges and didnt let them get ion their way is very motavational.

      • Thank you Sue for sharing your New Years resolution with us. I believe that this will be the best year ever and I leaving the past in the past is definitely the way to start. I believe the past should be a point of reference, not a place we dwell at. Living in the past keeps us from enjoying our present. I tend to look back at my best so that I can appreciate my today. May God bless you and your loved ones and grant you the desires of your heart.

        Amy “Your Shoe Lady”

  2. Hola Amy, bien bonita su pag. su shoes store, oh me God, estas son las cosas reales por las que nos damos cuenta que servimos a un Dios real y que hace posible nuestros sueños… Dios Continue Bendiciendo su vida y su Bussines…

  3. Amy, muy conmovedora, extaciante y sobretodo alentadora historia. Aun te recuerdo cuando te conoci, estas hermosa, es un gusto leer que tus sueños se hayan hecho realidad. Sigues siendo tan especial como siempre. Exito y felicidades por tus logros. Espero encontrarnos algun dia, estamos tan lejos pero tan cerca.

    Abrazos
    Yari Rosado

  4. Kudos to you Amy. I love your story and love your store concept! I maybe down in Tampa in late January so will hopefully be able to come to your store (I wear about 9.5W). Have never been big on shoes as nothing seemed cute in my size — not to mention nothing really seemed to fit me right!

    Best wishes,
    Amy (MN)

  5. I came back to read your story again, and am sharing you with some local ladies who are certain to love your store! I hope you have continued success… maybe we can chat sometime soon on having a fashion show..? I’d love to drive some business your way, Amy!

  6. Amy,
    Just wondering — have you been to eWomenNetwork in Tampa? I think they have a pretty active chapter. Might be a great place for you to connect & market your business! Like I said in a previous post — wish you were in MN! 🙂

    Amy (MN)

  7. Hello Amy!

    I Loved your story & all of your past articles (just read every one!) I wish I could WORK at your store. I only wear an 8 1/2 shoe but I know LOTS of people have issues with shoes for various reasons. Due to cancer some time ago I have lymphedema in my left leg (I wear a compression garment that goes from thigh to foot) & believe me, finding shoes is TOUGH!

    I am so happy for you & your store! Please let me know when you would like to expand to California!

    Much continued success!

    ~Christine

    • Wow Christine, you are too sweet. Thank you so much for taking the time to read my posts, it means a lot to me. It’s encouraging to hear other stories of courageous women that have been through some things and survive to share, thanks for sharing. I’m sorry to hear about your problems finding shoes, if there’s anything I can ever do, please let me know.

      I’ll let you know when we’re ready to expand…

      Amy “Your Shoe Lady”

  8. Dear Amy, you are simply a blessed woman. My heart goes out to you. My friend and a doctor, creator of our system Q400 SQ, was diagnosed also with Chron’s challenge and a kidney failure at the same time. He had a desire to live with healthy body and to day 46 years later still here with us. You people have incredible will………..Great Example for the rest of us. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

    • Thanks for your comment. I too look forward to a long life and I’m glad your friend is doing so well. I wish you and your loved ones a Merry Christmas and a Happy 2010.

  9. Waow loved reading your post. I added your feed to my blogreader!

    • Thank you so much for your kind words. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you and your loved ones.

      Cordially,

      Amy “Your Shoe Lady”

  10. HI Amy,

    I just wanted to say that I am so inspired by your story and success! You have redefined the meaning of “you can acccomplish anything if you put your mind to it!”
    Within the next several months my family and I are relocating down to the Tampa area.

    Keep up the positive attitude and i wish you all the best!

    Kind regards,
    Lynn

    • Hi Lynn, thank you so much for your beautiful words. I’m so glad that my words are an encouragement to you, that’s the sole purpose of why I write. Feel free to come by and visit when you are all settled in.

      Regards and a Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones!

      Amy “Your Shoe Lady”

  11. Wow! So inspiring! I would love for you to share your story with other women who are in business or starting a business. I will send them to your website! Thank you for pushing through and making it happen. God Bless You!!


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  • "I decided to open a shoe store for women with big and/or wide feet where they could shop with pleasure, would not have to sacrifice fashion for comfort and walk out with their head held high."