SDSU grad opens size-inclusive boutique


Samantha Schoenbauer

Erica Bousma poses with her products at her downtown boutique.

Autumn Grussing, Reporter

Emerald Grace Clothing Company, a boutique located downtown, Brookings, is owned by SDSU graduate Erica Bousema. Emerald Grace focus on providing size-inclusive clothing for women of all different sizes. 

Emerald Grace is a boutique that strives to embrace the beauty of every woman without limiting sizing options. The boutique currently carries sizes from small to 3X. They also sell jewelry, books, stickers, shoes, accessories, travel size items and self-care items. 

“I love that there is clothing for everybody. No matter what your size is,” Katelyn Loring, a customer of Emerald Grace, said.

Regardless of body shape, customers will be able to find something that’s cute, affordable, comfortable and makes them feel good. Loring says the only bad thing about the boutique is that it’s so close to her, and it makes her spend too much money.

Bousema started her boutique in October 2020, when she was only 19 years old and was still taking classes at SDSU. 

“It all kind of fell into place while I was at SDSU,” said Bousema. “I was basically online [for school] at the time that I started (the boutique.) My last semester, my advisors and my professors were awesome at being flexible with me.”

It was not always a smooth sailing for Bousema, as it was challenging for her to finish up her degree and also handle a business at the same time. 

“The biggest challenge was accepting I couldn’t do what I wanted to do with my degree,” Bousema said. “I wanted to finish and get a degree in Human Development and Family Studies, but I wasn’t able to.” 

Bousema would have had to complete her practicum in the summer, and that would have affected her boutique. 

“I had to choose between my degree or my business closing down,” she said. 

Bousema’s ended up changing her major and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in General Studies with a minor in Human Development and Family Studies in May 2021.

Owning a boutique was not always what Bousema wanted to do. 

“I wanted to go to college as a backup plan because I knew, eventually, I wanted to own my own business, but I didn’t know how I would get to that point,” she said.

Bousema wanted her boutique to be online because she wanted to focus on home-life, but two months after she started the boutique online, she found a storefront, and it’s now her favorite part of running a business.

The storefront has helped Bousema connect with her customers and realize the effect and impact that her store has on other people. 

“I don’t really base our success off of sales, I base it off of connections. If I meet somebody new and build a connection with (them) and have a good conversation, I would consider that to be way better at the end of the day,” Bousema said. “I’m doing what I like to do. I don’t really feel like I’m working.”

She also wanted to portray a great customer experience.

“So, making sure that we’re friendly and just being there for customers and building new relationships,” Bousema said. “I think that the biggest thing we really focus on is, not only just being friendly, but also size friendly.” 

Bousema wanted a store that catered to her mid-sized body and her style. It was hard to find stores for a person like her, who loves to shop. 

“I personally have a little shopping addiction, and I was in between wearing a size large and not fitting into a size large,” Bousema said.

That is why Emerald Grace tries to be as size inclusive as they can. 

“Some of the brands we have we can only get  in up to an XL or 2X,” Bousema said. “Although, I love having (size) small through 3X, I don’t always advertise that I have those sizes, because we don’t always carry everything in a size 3X.”

Bousema also focuses on providing cute clothing at an affordable price that anybody would feel comfortable wearing. 

“There is an interesting mix of items, and I like to get in versatile pieces,” Bousema said. “Everybody’s style is different. Nobody wears the same thing, or people wear the same thing but in different ways.” 

Emerald Grace is a good place to find pieces that could easily become a favorite to wear.

“I like that the clothes reach a wide variety of people in both style and size,” said Selena Nelson, an employee at Emerald Grace. “It’s super cool to hear when people come in and always have the reaction of ‘Wow, you guys have so much more options for me,’ and it just makes people feel more comfortable in the store.”

Emerald Grace is currently working on their spring edition, with the store seeing a lot more pastels soon. Bousema hopes that within the next couple of months, Emerald Grace will be able to get a bigger sign to make the boutique more visible. 

In the future, Bousema hopes to grow more online and build more connections. 

“I want to grow more connections and just meet more people and help build other people’s confidence through their clothing,” she said.

Emerald Grace Clothing Co. is located at 414 Main Avenue in downtown Brookings. It is open Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The boutique can be contacted through their Instagram and Facebook pages or through email at [email protected]