Fashion, Family, and Happy Hearts
By Ashli Urano
Boutique co-owners Michelle and Madison Marchbanks are the fashion-savvy mother-daughter force behind Style Concierge. Located at the Shops at Starwood in Frisco, their journey is not only about entrepreneurship; it’s a story of resilience, reinvention, and the pursuit of a shared dream.
The Marchbanks family resided in Houston before relocating to Frisco following Madison’s college graduation in May 2020. With a degree in marketing and communications from the University of Mississippi, she initially had a job lined up at an ad agency in New York City. “It’s what I thought I wanted after completing my internship. I knew I liked being creative and interacting with people,” she explained. “Working on different projects and not always doing the same thing appeals to me. Owning a boutique is somewhat similar.”
However, Madison’s plans changed abruptly as she confronted the challenges of the pandemic. “It was an unusual time to be a graduate, so I decided to move back home with my parents,” she said. “I was in my 20s, feeling lost and unsure of what to do with my life. It felt like a crisis. I kept asking myself, ‘What am I doing? What’s my calling?’ Even though it was such a weird time with COVID-19, my parents told me not to panic. They encouraged me to take time to figure out what I want to do.”
Amid the uncertainty of the times, Madison found solace in an unexpected hobby. “Like so many others during the pandemic, I was bored at home,” she recalled. “I decided to teach myself how to hand-embroider sweatshirts.” Little did she know her new hobby would set an entirely different career path in motion.
She went on to say, “People kept asking me where I got my cute sweatshirt, and it sparked an idea. I thought, ‘Making sweatshirts has brought me joy during a weird and confusing time. Maybe I can share this joy with others.’ It reminded me of what my grandmother had said to me my entire life. She always asked, ‘Is your heart happy?’ As a way of inspiring happiness in others, the Happy Heart brand came to life.”
Happy Heart began with a collection of hand-embroidered sweatshirts, all meticulously made by Madison herself. Her ambition and creativity soon outgrew her personal workspace. “I wanted to expand the collection, so I found manufacturers in Dallas to develop my designs,” she said. “I flew to Los Angeles to source the fabric, then my Dallas sew room produced the pieces. It grew from sweatshirts to dresses, skirts, tops, and bottoms.”
As Madison began to see her future differently, her mother, Michelle, realized working side-by-side with her daughter was well within reach. Michelle had also fostered a passion for fashion over the years.
“I love putting outfits together, and Madison definitely took after me,” she proudly said. Michelle noticed Madison’s interest in clothing brands from a young age. “She wasn’t just familiar with brand names. She also understood their philosophy, mission, and values. She knew where their products were manufactured and all of the small details. I always knew she had a special talent for fashion.”
Despite diving headfirst into the world of clothing production without prior knowledge, Madison’s determination kept her moving forward. She reached out locally for help as she continued to chase her dreams. “During all of this, I was also doing pop-ups at stores in various cities. I enjoyed the in-person aspect of it - cultivating a community while growing a brand. Talking to my customers was what gave me purpose, as opposed to selling online and packaging orders.”
Michelle recognized the potential in Madison’s vision and the opportunity it presented. After finally finding an ideal location at the Shops at Starwood, the concept for Style Concierge began to take shape. They quickly transformed a former gym into a unique retail space. Michelle’s talent for home decor and Madison’s eye for merchandising complemented each other perfectly.
Although their second location in Houston shares a similar design philosophy, the two stores have distinct layouts. “We have the majority of the same brands, and the inventory is the same, but it has a little bit of a different feel because of the building’s structure,” Michelle noted. Style Concierge aims to maintain a consistent brand identity across all its locations, making every visit feel like an encounter with its signature style.
Starting a business brings with it many obstacles. For Style Concierge, Michelle and Madison agree that conveying their dream to others was the most challenging part. As they went to market trying to secure brand partnerships, they worked tirelessly to share their vision. Madison explained, “It’s hard enough to convince yourself of a dream like that, let alone convince others. It was difficult, but I think it was a wonderful learning experience.”
At Style Concierge, customers can explore a wide range of products, from women’s clothing and shoes to accessories and gifts. The gift section aligns with their love for home decor, featuring items like pillows, trays, bookends, and candles. Their inventory also includes cosmetic items, handbags, jewelry, glassware, coasters and more. “We really try to offer a little bit of everything. Our goal has always been to be unique,” Michelle explained. “Many of the brands we work with are women-owned or based in the United States. That’s something we want to support.”
Michelle and Madison are both proud that Style Concierge caters to a diverse clientele. They have shoppers ranging from teenagers to women in their 70s. They’ve worked hard to make sure they have something for everyone.
When it comes to their customers, Style Concierge offers a personalized experience. Madison explained, “Currently, it’s very straightforward. Someone texts or calls saying they have an event or dinner that they need an outfit for. We text them different options or they can come in.” Madison and Michelle often know their customers well. They are familiar with their preferences and styles, making the selection process more intuitive.
For long-distance customers, Style Concierge offers a convenient solution. Madison said, “I had a girl who was in Kansas going through rush. Helping girls who are going to college with outfits for rush and game days is a huge part of our business. With her, I created a look book online since she couldn’t come in. She picked out her favorite options for me to ship to her. She then kept what she wanted and returned the rest.”
When asked about fashion inspirations, Madison immediately mentions the founder of Spanx. “I love Sarah Blakely and her story. She reinvented the industry. She had very humble beginnings but stayed true to her beliefs and her plan for her brand all the way through. She convinced others to believe in her for years to get her prototypes working. I think her story is amazing. It’s incredible how much she’s done for the industry and women in business.”
Michelle added, “I think it’s been beautiful for Madison to see that women support other women. Her brother attends Legacy Christian Academy, which has a close-knit community. Once the women found out about her brand, they were eager to promote it, encouraging her and offering their support. I feel that’s how the community is as well.”
Keeping up with fashion trends is essential in their industry. They attend the Dallas market five times a year, buying merchandise that arrives six months later. Madison explained their approach, “Evolving trends are honestly so easy to see. All of the brands are already watching each other. Listening to our customers, even if it’s not necessarily a trend, is important to us. Our ultimate goal is to make them happy.”
Madison’s advice to aspiring boutique owners is clear. “It’s much more than shopping. Many people think since they really like shopping they can do the buying part of it, but you only get to do that five times a year. After that, you’re marketing yourself, organizing your business, managing inventory, and dealing with customers. There’s really a lot of skills involved, but it’s enjoyable. If it’s what you love, follow your dreams.”
Michelle and Madison Marchbanks’ journey showcases a mother and daughter’s shared love for fashion and most importantly, never letting go of what makes your heart truly happy.
Ashli Urano is a freelance writer obsessed with competitive tennis, true crime and her Goldendoodle named Sadie Kireina.