Cecelia Haren jumped head first into the fashion and business industry with the opening of her dress and accessory store, CeCe Couture, on January 7.
The Boardman store offers a variety of dresses, shoes, purses and jewelry from designers such as Jovani Fashions, Faviana, Blush Prom, Christine Couture, Party Times, Sassy South and Helen’s Heart.
The 2013 Youngstown State University graduate pulled double duty during her senior year to be able to open CeCe Couture a little after a month of receiving her degree in December.
“This last year has been rough,” Haren said. “Doing all my graduate classes, figuring out the location for the store, tweaking business plans and getting loans. … It was overwhelming. But seeing my store open and getting good business is such a rewarding feeling.”
Haren said she knew she would be working in fashion ever since she was young.
“I’ve been in love with the fashion industry ever since I was a little girl, especially dresses and shoes. I loved it so much that I decided to major in it — the sad thing was, it wasn’t challenging enough or what I was looking for,” she said. “I ended up going into business and entrepreneurship … that’s where I fell in love.”
Courtney Gobel, a friend of Haren and CeCe Couture employee, said that CeCe Couture is a store that not only sells the prom attire, but also the prom experience.
“I used to work in the wedding dress business,” Gobel said. “When clients walked in, they were pampered. We wanted to bring that feeling along to the prom industry. When you walk in CeCe Couture, we help you pick out and try on the perfect dress. Prom is a big deal, and we understand that here.”
Stephanie Woods, a YSU senior and store employee, said that the ladies at CeCe Couture understand that the fashion industry is making a comeback in the Youngstown area, and this time it will hit harder than ever.
“Fashion is growing. So is the program at YSU. So is the knowledge of what’s going on and coming off of the runway. People can see a design and grab it hot off the walk. We want to be a part of that craze,” Woods said. “We stay on top of what people want in terms of formal dresses, shoes, purses and accessories and that’s why we plan to do good business here.”
CeCe Couture is planning on getting people involved over social media, shop contests and events.
Currently, there are two different competitions being held at the store. Information about entering the Girl of the Year contest and the dress designing competition can be found by contacting the store.
A fashion show will be held March 2 at 3 p.m. at Antone’s Banquet Center. Prom dresses, formal wear, shoes, accessories and jewelry will be modeled, and there will be promotions, coupons and giveaways.
Haren said that her passion for promotion, fashion and people are going to make CeCe Couture an extreme success.
“I love what I do. I love going to dress and accessory showcases. I love working with people and mixing that all with business,” she said. “Everything about this business is exiting … and I can’t wait to see where it takes me next.”