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SBA's Resource Partner Helps Woman Business Owner Build Dream Enterprise

Kairy-tate Barkley is the owner of French Cuff Boutique, an innovative and highly popular women’s apparel and accessories boutique.  Located in accessible neighborhoods with an intimate setting focused on expert wardrobe consultation and a custom selection of designer labels sets her apart from competitors.

Kairy-tate is a native Houstonian who loves fashion and always dreamed of owning her own boutique.  She attended the University of Houston and received a dual Bachelor of Business degree in Marketing and Management.  While working as a Human Resource professional at a Houston-based Fortune 500 company, she began selling women’s clothing and accessories at home shows in the evenings and weekends, which rekindled her passion for fashion.  She realized that she enjoyed this and was good at selling clothes.  “This re-ignited my true passion and gave me the confidence to take the next step,” said Kairy-tate.

In 2007, she left her successful HR career to pursue her dream full time.  Her research and planning led her to the SBA website where she learned about SCORE, a resource partner of the SBA.  SCORE is a group of volunteers, with a wide range of industry experience in building and/or running businesses, who provide free confidential counseling and low-cost seminars and workshops.  She attended SCORE’s “How to Start and Run Your Own Small Business” workshop.  “This course was great at giving me a better understanding of the important fundamentals of business,” said Kairy-tate.  During her mentorship with SCORE, business counselor Richard Stanley identified that Kairy-tate needed practical retail experience and helped her find an internship with a fashion retailer.  He also assisted Kaiy-tate with her business plan and marketing and business development strategies.      

In July 2008, with the help of SCORE, Kairy-tate braved the difficult financial climate with a second mortgage on her home to finance the first French Cuff Boutique in the Bellaire West University area.  Within 19 months she was able to pay off her second mortgage.  Buoyed by the success of this first location, Kairy-tate opened a second boutique in the Galleria-Memorial neighborhood in 2011.  She began the business with three employees and now employs ten and one intern. 

A true community champion, she contributes time and resources to numerous charities, schools, and important social causes, such as Dress for Success, the March of Dimes, Texas Children’s Hospital, American Cancer Society, Houston Area Women’s Centers, and many others.  She is a member of the Junior League of Houston and serves on the Board of Directors of the River Oaks Women’s Exchange Club.  In addition to a demanding career, she is also balancing the role as wife and new mother. 

For more information about the French Cuff Boutique, visit their website at http://www.frenchcuffco.com