People Making A Difference: Gretchen Gannon & Ann-Marie Brown
GRETCHEN GANNON & ANN-MARIE BROWN
Co-Founders of BoutiqueNAV Gretchen Gannon and Ann-Marie Brown are passionate about shopping local. As the co-founders of BoutiqueNAV, a website and app for discovering local boutiques, they care about the success of small businesses.
The two women also are invested in creating experiences for tourists and St. Louisans alike. Originally from Louisiana, Brown says that after 20-some years of STL living, she’s proud to bring people to town to share the local flair. But Gannon, from St. Louis, says that finding local boutiques is nearly impossible unless you know the area.
With BoutiqueNAV, they’ve followed their passion to solve that very problem. Their hope is to promote the “boutique experience” by making it easy for the St. Louis community and visitors to support shopping local. Gannon and Brown have kept the cost low—the app is free to download, and boutiques pay a marginal amount for membership—to provide the best experience for both boutiques and shoppers.
To learn more about Brown, Gannon and BoutiqueNAV, we asked a few more questions.
What is your personal mission statement or one quote you live by?
AMB: “In order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different”- Coco Chanel.
GG: If you have a goal, a dream or a talent, you can use it to make a positive impact—hopefully all while enjoying the journey.
Are you involved with any charities/philanthropic causes?
AMB: Mystique Boutique (for Connections to Success) and Annie’s Hope (bereavement support for children).
GG: A few years ago my business partner, Ann-Marie Brown, and I collaborated to develop Mystique Boutique, the mobile resale fashion truck that is a social enterprise of Connections to Success. All proceeds from the sale of donated, upscale clothing sold to the general public go to fund the programs of Connections to Success. The truck is based out of St. Charles, MO at the CTS offices, has three full dressing rooms and operates as a fully functional travelling boutique.
Many corporations host the truck for power lunch hour shopping but it is also a multi-use truck for the organization. It has been used to dress men in need of outfits for jobs as they leave incarceration facilities and has been a resale prom dress boutique at high schools. Much of the upscale, donated clothing sold within the boutique comes from closets of private donors but many boutiques donate new merchandise. To find out more, go to connectionstosuccess.org. The boutique is also featured on boutiqueNav.com
I have supported and been involved with Connections to Success for many years because I believe in the mission of the organization. CTS programs work to empower local women in need of making a better life for themselves and their families which inevitably breaks the cycle of poverty in their lives. The participants and their success stories are amazing!
What is the most rewarding part of your career?
AMB: With BoutiqueNAV, it’s making my mark on my community. Making a difference.
GG: I get to do something relevant and innovative in an arena that I love, which is fashion.
Who has made the biggest impact on your professional life?
AMB: My dad. He taught me if I worked hard enough, I could do anything … and I have always lived, played, and worked with that in mind. And it’s true …
GG: Two people: Kathy Lambert from Connections to Success—she’s inspirational and charismatic— and Ann-Marie Brown; She’s my alter ego because she has the funny, outgoing gene that I wish I did.
How do you hope to be remembered?
AMB: As a good mom to my three boys and someone who brought a smile to your face.
GG: I’d like to be remembered as kind. Really, that’s all. The world needs more kindness and we are all trying to make our way and do our thing and sometimes we forget to be kind and patient. I’m still working on all that, so hopefully I have some time to perfect it.
Name one thing on your personal bucket list.
AMB: Cover of the Rolling Stone … kidding/not kidding Actually, I want to sit on a beach in Italy … while reading the issue of Rolling Stone, of which I’m on the cover.
GG: Having this BoutiqueNAV in every shopping city across the United States so people can refer to it when they are planning a girls’ trip to Austin, Charleston or Nashville. Or when I go to Savannah or Asheville or wherever my plans take me, I can use it. We’ve already had boutique owners tell us, “I wish I’d had this in (name a city) when I was there.” The model is simple; we just need to get the end-users and boutique-owners to grasp what we are trying to do.
What is your biggest source of inspiration?
AMB: My dad, Coco Chanel and Gretchen.
GG: Pinterest—you can find anything on there.
What recent accomplishment are you most proud of?
AMB: I am blessed to have vocal talents. I would have to say I am most proud to have performed for events such as “Kids Rock Cancer” at The Sheldon this last April and “Annie’s Hope” at The Pageant. Doing something I love for someone else is a gift.
GG: Most recently, our interview with Kim Hudson on Channel 2 when I didn’t choke live on air. Public speaking isn’t my strength. My older daughter was on the edge of her seat just holding her breath.
For more info, visit boutiquenav.com. Ann Marie is wearing a dress and necklace from Never Enough, bracelet on left arm from Reloved Leather. Gretchon Gannon is wearing a Elliatt Dress ($137) from 10Denza, earrings from Barbara Bultman and a Rebel Design bracelet from 10Denza ($185)