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a life enhancing opportunity
Story by Susan O'Connor, Photo by Dero Sanford

Enhancements boutique was born in 1980 when Susie Gibson asked herself an important question, one that would greatly define her life.

“I asked myself a question — thinking outside the box. If I could do anything — anything at all — what would it be?”

Gibson was in her 30s and had recently completed a bachelor’s degree in education. During practice teaching, however, doubts crept up about whether that was the career she truly wanted to pursue.

A farmer’s wife from Bono with great natural beauty, Gibson had always been drawn to fashion and attended Nancy Taylor Modeling School in Jonesboro along with her sisters and sister-in-law. Through that experience Gibson met Patte Horne, who worked in marketing for Indian Mall at the time and organized the mall’s fashion shows. Gibson frequently modeled for Horne, which evolved into a job at Piero Trimarchi’s boutique in Indian Mall. She credits that experience with giving her the direction to pursue her ultimate dream, opening her own makeup and clothing business.

“He gave me the direction to do what I really wanted to do,” she said of Trimarchi. “I don’t think I would have the store without Piero, Patte Horne and Gloria Hall Miller.”

Then she paused. “But really, none of it would have been possible without God.”
Gibson leased a 900-square-foot property in Southwest Village to launch Enhancements and in three years she had outgrown the space and doubled the size of the location. At first, the high-end makeup and skincare lines of Orlane and Borghese were the focus of the boutique. Gibson brought in nationally known makeup artists, and women from all over the region came to Jonesboro to partake of the experience. She added a salon in the first year, and a niece, Jennifer Wilson, joined her in the business.

Now located at 1903 Grant Avenue, Enhancements offers clothing, accessories and gift items, in addition to cosmetics. In 2000, the salon became a separate entity, when Wilson bought that part of the business.

But running a business of this type takes a toll, and Gibson stressed that she worked long hours, six days a week for 20 years.

“This store was blood, sweat and tears,” Gibson said emphatically. “It nearly killed me in the beginning. But the store has really broadened my life.”

Her daughter, Lisa Davis, began working at Enhancements during high school and joined her in the business after completing a bachelor’s degree from Arkansas State University. Gibson stressed the importance of Davis’ many contributions over the years. Though Gibson still attends market and does the majority of buying for the store, Davis runs the day-to-day operations.
“When I come into the store now, I have to go to Lisa to find out what’s going on,” she said proudly.

“I have never run this store by the book — by any type of business analysis or anything,” Gibson said. “I’ve always tried to have or to give everything that the customer wants. I felt like if I do good for the customer, the bottom line will work itself out.”

Occasions interviewed Davis to learn more about her role in the family business.

What are some of the important lessons in business that your mother has taught you over the years? Mom has taught me to be kind and fair with everyone. A boutique’s business is based on giving the customer personal service and going the extra mile.

What is most fun about your business? I look forward to going to work every day! I know a lot of people can’t say that, so I count myself one of the lucky ones. I enjoy planning and producing fashion shows. We have a benefit fashion show every October for the Northeast Arkansas Breast Cancer Support Group at the Jonesboro Country Club. This year was our seventh one and I believe our best. I help with the Cardiology Associates Foundation and the Red Dress Fashion Show in February. Each year, it gets bigger and better.

What are the hot trends in holiday fashion? The hot color for the season is purple. It is a fun way to liven up all of the black pieces in your wardrobe. Also, ruffles, ruffles, ruffles. Look for ruffle details on blouses, jackets and even scarves. This spring, check out the embroidered detail on blouses and dresses.

Do you see any past trends that are making a comeback in 2010? Leggings. I lived in leggings in the 1980s and they are making a strong comeback. I still love them.

What clothing line is your best seller? Joseph Ribkoff. They have a great fit, good quality and have the best style. If you don’t believe me, just ask Miss America 2009, Katie Stam. Joseph Ribkoff is the official designer for Miss America.

What stocking stuffers would you recommend to husbands and boyfriends? Emily Ray Hoop-la earrings and charms. You pick out the hoop earring and choose your color and shape of Swarovski crystal to put on your earring. There are so many colors to choose from, and the size is always right. Any one of us would love to help you pick out the perfect gift.