Written by: Sofia Mikaeili, Co-Founder of Girlsside Boutique
Have you ever had a crazy wild idea and then your crazy, wild cousin wanted to join? Well, that’s how we started Girlsside! Mary Maryouhana, 47, has always dreamed of opening her own boutique and I, Sofia Mikaeili, 22, have always wanted to be my own boss, so together we’re making both of our dreams into a reality. But we’re doing it a little differently. We wanted to be a boutique that served all types of women. We wanted to stand out. We wanted sexy, classy and cute and we wanted it for all body types, because all women deserve to feel beautiful in their own skin. We want to give women that “Damn I look good” feeling every time they wear something from Girlsside because well, we’re on the Girl’s side. Women are taking over the world one classy two-piece set at a time and we’re so here for it! Now come along and see how we started, where we’re at and why YOU should join the Girlsside Family.
A little about us and where we are in our lives currently
Mary was born in Kuwait, a country in the Middle East, and moved to the states when she was just 15 years old. She was raised in Granada Hills, California and attended Kennedy high school. Mary took fashion marketing and multiple sewing programs at Santa Monica College. She also got her Paralegal degree from a private paralegal school and is now working as a paralegal in a Beverly Hills personal injury law firm. Mary has always had such a big passion for fashion and clothes that she has always had this dream that one day she would own a storefront. She has worked retail throughout her entire life in different departments such as sales, management and even as a buyer for Nordstrom. Not only is Mary a paralegal, but she is also a reseller on Instagram for vintage and thrift clothing and now she runs her very own online boutique!
Mary has always had a fascination with the fashion world especially when she was studying fashion marketing, she would be going up and down the streets of LA Fashion District looking for the perfect fabrics for her class projects. Mary is your typical Libra full of life and laughter. Fashion and Law have not only empowered her to be the strong woman she is today but it’s the only matter that drives her to excel. Fashion does not just exist, it lives. How you dress can interpret how a person feels, how their day went or what lifestyle they live. Mary has always wanted to help women enhance their natural beauty. She has also suffered from low self-esteem herself but has been learning to embrace who she is and her style has brought confidence and drive to her life and she is ready to share her ideas with ALL women.
I (Sofia) was born in Tarzana, California and raised in Santa Clarita. I am a recent college graduate from California Lutheran University class of 2020. With a B.A. in Marketing Communications and graduating as a first-generation college student, I have always had big dreams and goals that I strive for and incredibly supportive parents who guide me along my path. I have always had this drive and hunger in me since I was little. I was competitive in not only sports, which I found a love for basketball, but also in my academics. While deep in my studies, enrolled in 16 units a semester, I managed to work three jobs and end the year on the Dean’s list and the President’s list. I have always strived to be the best version of myself, but my main motivation for that is to one day be able to give it all back to my parents who have worked day in and day out to be able to give me a better life.
I grew up in a house where English actually wasn’t my first language and trying to learn American traditions with traditional Assyrian parents was not always the easiest, but I am eternally grateful that my parents believed in educating women and pushing them to do all things imaginable. For women to own a business in the middle eastern community is and always has been taboo, but I was fortunate enough to have a father that wanted his girls to shoot for the stars. Most traditional parents say the same line “Find a good man, get married, have children and take care of your family.” Well, mine says stuff like “Get your degree, land an amazing job, work your way up, become your own boss, be financially secure for yourself, then go find a nice man.” So here I am at 22, almost a year post-graduation and I’m running my own LLC.
Why we wanted to start Girlsside
Okay so we all know what I’m talking about when I say we’ve all gained some COVID weight, am I right? Well, both Mary and I started to feel discouraged about how our bodies were looking and how we were gaining weight. We were so mean to ourselves and were completely forgetting that these bodies, which are a little bigger than we are used to, have gotten us through an entire year of a global pandemic and yet we are treating it like an ex-boyfriend! Why do we do that to ourselves?? That’s when we started to learn that we NEED to appreciate our bodies and so we started to do a lot of self-reflection, self-care and slowly started learning what self-love was.
Don’t get me wrong we still have days where we just don’t feel completely ourselves and that’s okay, but we knew we would be able to pick it back up tomorrow and fix our crowns. The feeling of warmth and sunshine that we felt when we finally let go of all the guilt we built against ourselves for “looking a certain way” was something we wanted to share with the world! So that’s when we knew we wanted to open a Women’s boutique with all sizes to support all body types and all types of women! Once we found the message we wanted to send it was time to find suppliers who had clothing ranging from size XS-3X and let me be the first to say, it has NOT been easy and you’ll see what I mean in the next few paragraphs.
How we came up with the name “Girlsside”
We were sitting in Mary’s living room and we had been searching and googling anything and everything in hopes we would spark a name for ourselves. We knew we wanted to be all about women and we wanted that to be the focal point, but everything we were putting together just didn’t feel like the right fit! It’s like you’re naming your clearly “Isabella” looking baby “Olivia.” It just wasn’t working! We wanted something catchy and fun and full of meaning. It took days to finally get close to a name we loved and I (Sofia) was OVERLY obsessed with “Oceanside” and how it gave you a feeling of warmth and comfort but for obvious reasons I knew we couldn’t use that, so I kept messing with “Oceanside” trying to have the same rhythm but with different words.
It finally hit me, like a lightbulb went off… why don’t we call it Girlsside because well, we’re on the Girl’s side! And just like that, our name was born and it had meaning behind it, one that is very powerful and much needed in today’s society. We love that our slogan is “Because we’re on the Girl’s side,” being that in any realm of today’s society people are conditioned to blame women or constantly bring them down about anything or everything when what we should be doing is uplifting women and making sure they know that they are loved, strong and able to do whatever they put their minds to.
It’s a learning process: We didn’t know what we were doing
Imagine finally having your business license and seller’s permit and you’re like okay now what… well that was us! We didn’t know where to buy clothes or which suppliers were considered good quality and which weren’t. Believe it or not, we did a lot of our research from TikTok. We found a lot of small businesses, specifically boutique owners breaking down their business from scratch and giving their best tips and tricks when just starting out. At first, we used FashionGo, the biggest online website where multiple wholesale vendors are on and we picked out a few vendors and a few items from each vendor, but a BIG mistake we made was buying inventory we weren’t completely in love with. You have to love your product or you won’t put your all into it and I can say that is completely true. As for the quality of the items we picked we got incredibly lucky that almost every piece was amazing fabrics and beautiful quality. We only had one item that was a bit see-through, but we learned not to buy from that certain vendor. For our second inventory purchase, we decided to try the LA Fashion District and we absolutely loved it. Everyone was incredibly kind and helped us through the process of registering at each vendor and the check-out and pick-up process as well.
The best part was being able to see the clothes and touch the fabrics, which made us feel more comfortable, knowing that we are getting the best quality for all the women who decide to be a part of our Girlsside Family. Every single day, both Mary and I learn something new. We have never run a business before and so when we signed up we vowed to never stop learning and growing because we want to see our “baby” succeed just like any parents! And of course, we want to do our best for them right? Well, that’s how we feel about Girlsside, we know it will take time, strength and patience and it might not always be easy but that it will always be worth it. Getting constant messages and reviews from women all around explaining to us that our clothes make them feel beautiful and have helped them see their true beauty is all we want out of this. We want women to feel confident again and to pick their crowns back up!
Where we plan to be in the future
We want Girlsside to be the next biggest thing. We want Girlsside in every mall, every shopping center and every City! But, that’s not where we want to stop. We want Girlsside to become a recognizable brand. We want people to see “Girlsside” and immediately think “WOMEN.” Our plans are to brand our company as big as possible continuing to expand into things such as: podcasts, books, women’s groups and expanding our clothing into other lines and categories. For us it isn’t just about the cute clothes, it’s about the message behind the clothes. We want the message to be everywhere! We want women to understand that it’s 2021 and someone else’s opinion about their body doesn’t matter anymore. It’s time for women to feel good and live their best lives! No more constantly changing outfits because you feel you don’t meet up to society’s standards. It’s about time we change those standards and Girlsside will be the start of that change.
Why and how YOU should be a part of our story
If YOU want to be a part of the Girlsside Family, I’m about to tell you how you can and why you should! Different ways you can take part in our message is by following us on all social platforms, showing your support, sharing our content, letting all your friends and family know about our message and why they should also support and of course if you can, we always appreciate an order or two. Another way you can join in on the fun is if you are from the LA area and have always wanted to model! If you take a look at our website, you see everyday girls as our models, because we want to showcase ALL women and ALL different types of beautiful bodies. If this is something you have always wanted to do, send us a DM on Instagram!
Now here’s the fun part… why should YOU want to be a part of our story. Well, because YOU are also on the Girl’s side. YOU want to advocate for women and stand for something bigger. YOU want to show the world that women can do anything they set their minds to and they’ll do it in a badass two-piece suit. YOU want to stand for women’s rights. YOU want to support body positivity in ALL women. YOU want to stand up for the inclusion of ALL women in today’s beauty standards. YOU want to make a difference for today’s women and for those to come. So what are you waiting for… start with Girlsside.