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Female Feature Friday: Kelli Baker

It is no secret that I am passionate about women's empowerment and women in leadership positions. As women's history month ended in March, a new series emerged here at The Honest Mama blog. Each week throughout April and May, Female Feature Fridays will spotlight local female entrepreneurs in Champaign-Urbana and surrounding communities.

Meet Kelli Baker, a clothing boutique owner with a unique family-focused approach to offering styles for women of all generations.

Name: Kelli Baker

Business Name: Common Thread Boutique

Tell us about yourself!

I grew up in a small town, Carlinville, Illinois. My family owned a clothing store my whole life, and it has been in my blood! I have been in Champaign for 27 years, married to an amazing husband, Brad, who lets me follow my crazy dreams and l have two daughters that own the business with me, Kelsie Gorrell and Kailyn Calcari. I just became a proud grandma to a little guy! 💙 I love clothes, reading, vacations, family and friends!

When did you open your business?

May 28, 2020– it’s almost our one year anniversary!!! We were asked by a venue to host a fashion show for our launch last year, but due to COVID we had to cancel.. We planned to reschedule the fashion show to celebrate, our 1 year anniversary but have had family reasons to postpone. However, we will be getting that rescheduled to celebrate soon—stay tuned!!

What made you decide to start a clothing boutique?

I grew up in the clothing boutique world! My mom and aunt opened a clothing boutique in my hometown in 1974. I was always there, and working at the store! It has always been a dream of mine since I was born! While being in quarantine for COVID, I decided to take a leap and follow my dream. I quit my corporate job and have loved working on the business with my daughters!

What do you think the average person may not know about what goes into owning a clothing boutique?

It is hard work! From the Instagram posts and events it looks fun and glamorous but behind the scenes it is a lot of sweat, tears and SHIPPING! 😂 Instagram vs Reality at its best!

What makes you unique within your industry?

We are unique because we are mother and daughter owned! We provide fashion finds from mother to daughters that span generations! We work hard to find clothing that is good quality, affordable and makes you feel amazing when you put it on!

How did you decide what you wanted your clientele to be and how you would connect with them? Has that changed at all since you opened your business?

In the world of online everything, and online clothing boutiques popping up every day…it is important to find your niche! As a new boutique, we are working continually to gear our boutique towards our client. We started with the premise of providing clothing that spans generations from grandma, mom to daughters. While we still do that, it has changed a bit. We provide those clothes but not every item will span a generation. One shirt might be a very junior fit, while another might be geared towards a missy fit.

What is the most rewarding part about what you do?

100% all the people I have gotten to know! I meet new people online across the country, when I am out at dinner, running errands and at events. I have made new friends and connections that will last a lifetime and I love that most!

What are the biggest challenges that you face within your business?

COVID has provided the biggest challenge to date! We launched last May and we could not go to market to buy, so we bought online. Also, we were not able to host pop ups and events like we planned. We are all very excited to begin getting back out this summer!!

What is the most important thing you have learned since opening the boutique?

Wow, this is a hard question! Every day is a new learning experience. Most important…take time off! With an online boutique—it never closes! So turn it off, set a schedule and stick too it!

What piece of advice would you give to someone wanting to start their own business?

Don’t quit! I give myself that piece of advice often. This is not easy, there are so many details that go into a new business. Some months are amazing and other months are not, but just keep swimming!

You can find Common Thread Boutique online at and on Instagram @common_threadboutique. (PS - use code Alyssa10 to save 10% on your purchase!)


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