It started as an FFA project. Selestia Angell created and sold hair flowers for students and young children in her hometown. Today, the 24-year-old owns SHēk Boutique in downtown Centralia, Mo., where she sells clothing and accessories, along with being a hairstylist.
Angell has always been interested in owning a business. She says it came from working at the family’s store — Angell’s Western Wear & More.
“I grew up working in the Western store right down the street with my grandpa since I was 7 years old,” Angell explains. “I started on the Sunday shift, which was a three-hour shift, then started working Saturdays. Ever since then, I loved working in retail and being around the customers.”
Setting her own path
Angell grew up on a beef cattle operation outside of town. But as many in FFA realize, this high school organization is more than a training ground for those going into agriculture or farming. It offers skills that carry over into any career and business. And it often spurs students to adventure and entrepreneurial opportunities.
Angell traveled out West to attend cosmetology school after graduating high school early. It didn’t take long until she wanted to come home and set up shop in her community. “Centralia is a great place to open a business,” she says. “It has a vibrant downtown atmosphere, and the people here are great.”
That local support was tested when Angell opened her shop only three weeks before the COVID-19 shutdown. So, she pivoted and started a website. “I had amazing support from Centralia, but also customers from other states trying to help local businesses survive during that time," she says.
Now, customers walk in to SHēk Boutique looking for city styles in a small town. Some items, such as earrings, are made by Angell. The young entrepreneur is busy, making products and managing her own clientele and eight employees. She also provides customers with some of her rural roots.
Supporting her community
If there is one thing Angell learned from working at the family store up the street, it is family support. She keeps her sister’s Savannah’s Farm Fresh meats in a freezer and snack sticks and beef jerky by the cash register. There is also a signature "Support local farmers" T-shirt to purchase. “We help each other out,” Angell says. “It is what families and small towns do.”
It is nice to see former FFA members using skills to better themselves, their families and their communities. If you’re in mid-Missouri, make a side trip to Centralia and SHēk Boutique. Angell will likely be working in the back.
For those who can’t travel, the video below offers insight to the small-town shop.