In June 2010, the family opened a second location in Maple Lawn, managed by Sara and her husband, Les Raymond. That studio has blossomed from 40 clients to 225 clients over the past year.
To top it all off, the mother-daughter duo and their spouses have had a house built together where they all live, in Fulton.
Sometimes, conversation at the family dinner table resembles a complicated practice in juggling — schedules, that is. There are management responsibilities at the two studios, Raymond’s two young children and Berndt’s other full-time banking career in D.C.
“Luckily, it’s a very flexible business,” says Raymond.
Adds Berndt: “You have to separate the emotional boundaries of business life with family. We’re all passionate about it.”
Raymond and Berndt hope to continue branching out. Up next for them is planning a Pilates retreat at a tropical destination for their clients.
Simply Divine Boutique
At Simply Divine Boutique, in Fulton, Angelina Rivero’s mother, Tina, was her first choice for a business partner from the start.
“She is like my best friend, my sister, my everything,” says Angelina, 37, an only child. “She is anything any woman could want in one being. I see or talk to her every day.”
Angelina watched as her parents worked hard to run their own maintenance and janitorial business, Afford Building Maintenance, for more than 30 years. Her parents continue to operate the business.
“I was raised watching my parents build something, which has given me the drive to be where I am now,” she says. “She had to learn the things I am learning on her own.”
Having worked in the makeup and fashion industry for more than 15 years, Angelina said she was inspired by being around fashion but eventually burned out from all the traveling her job entailed.
“My mom would come with me and travel with me and have a mini-vacation while I worked,” she says.
Wanting to venture out and try something new, Angelina said she noticed a need for a boutique for baby boomers, specifically targeting women 40 and older.
“I realized there was nothing like that around,” she says. “I talked it all over with my mom, and she thought it was a great idea. Mom and I always loved fashion.”
Simply Divine Boutique opened in November 2008. In 2010, Howard Magazine readers voted it Best Clothing Boutique.
Angelina describes her mom as a “tremendous source of guidance” who is full of wisdom and endless patience.
“I don’t think she has ever doubted me on anything,” Angelina says.
Like any new business owner, especially one starting out in the midst of a sinking economy, Angelina said there were times she wondered what she had gotten herself into. She oversees the day-to-day operations of the store.
“I don’t think there was ever a time she had to talk me off the ledge, but there were times when I was in the elevator on the way up,” says Angelina.
In the beginning, it was frustrating to her when customers turned to her mom to ask questions and dismissed Angelina, who appears young for her age.
“They would tend to go to her first, before me, but Mom would always turn around and say to me, ‘What do you think?’ She is very good at asking my opinion on things.”
When they go to market to scout out items for the store, sometimes their opinions vary but they always have fun.
“We have a great way of discussing things, and we communicate well together,” Angelina says.
“Sometimes I’ll see something and say, ‘This will look good in the store’ and she really doesn’t think so, but we try it, and then the garment doesn’t sell. She will look at me and laugh and say, ‘I told you so.’
“I am blessed to have my mom. She is the best.”
Tina, 58, says she is the one who is blessed.
“Angelina and I have always been very close. Not only is she my daughter, she is my friend. We don’t hold anything from each other.”
They shared a love of fashion and shopping from early on.
“I can remember her being 13 years old and we were shopping, and she said, ‘Mommy, one day I want to open a boutique of my own,’” Tina said. “I told her, ‘Honey, hold onto that dream.’”