Best friends make winning duo as they open boutique amid pandemic

The Newport business opened two weeks ago
Published: Nov. 29, 2020 at 4:51 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 29, 2020 at 11:11 PM EST
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - For best friends Tracy Brown and Nicole Howard, this business was about following dreams.

“I’ve always dreamed of owning my own boutique, my own business,” said Howard.

In mid-November the two, during a global pandemic, opened a boutique in Cocke County.

“Just wanted to have a little normalcy back in our lives. People are afraid to go outside, no one wants to go out anymore so, we decided to start a little shop to bring people out,” said Brown.

Inside Southern Raine Boutique the two are selling women’s clothing and hoping to bring something positive back to the small town.

“I was born and raised here, so I know a lot of people here, so I just want my town to grow, I want Newport to grow,” said Howard.

The decision to open during the pandemic was not an easy one for the pair.

Brown works in health care and sees the impact COVID 19 is having on people every day.

“I work in health care so I’ve seen first hand what this COVID has done to people and so it’s been, it’s been challenging,” said Brown.

For Howard, the risk is a little greater. She quit her job to follow something she’s finding out might be her life calling.

“During the pandemic, my job was affecting. They laid off 270 people I got moved to a different shift that put me where I never seen my family, never seen my kids, never seen my husband. I was blessed to still have a job but I was miserable,” said Howard.

The two hope that in the months and years to come they outgrow the space they are in now and are able to leave a larger impact on the community they are serving.

“I hope to grow, I hope to outgrow this building, I hope to outgrow this location, build bigger and better and I hope to do this the rest of my life because I think I have found something I truly love,” said Howard.

Howard and her husband also run a certified cell phone repair business out of the location.

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