Shannon Mills brought her boutique to Stephenville two years ago introducing new fashion trends to customers. Her Blue Flamingo Studio, tucked away on Washington Street, is a whimsical, feminine boutique that boasts trendy art and refurbished antiques. Mills has weathered a tumultuous economy over the last decade and business is booming at Blue Flamingo since she opened the shop two years ago.

Question: How did Blue Flamingo come to be?

Answer: Blue Flamingo began as a furniture store. I refurbished old antiques people throw out on the roadside and add my own special touch. I actually started back in 2002 and 2003 when I was selling at First Monday Trades Days in Canton. I opened my first Blue Flamingo Studio in downtown Waco in 2004. In 2010 I spent two days in Stephenville shopping and looking around to see what's here. I saw a lot of new-age, trendy western stores, but I didn't see anything that was my style. We were nervous when we opened up in Stephenville that year because the economy was still shaky, but we've been open through two summers and in July will celebrate our second anniversary. 

Question: What makes your Stephenville store different from your Waco location?

Answer: I would have to say the relationships I have with my customers here. They are my favorite part of my job. A lot of friendships have begun inside this Blue Flamingo. I love helping customers who need help coordinating items and trying new wardrobes for the first time. I also learn so much from my customers. I kind of get more excited when I find a customers who has a unique style sense of their own. I get ideas for the store by watching what my customers wear. 

Question: How do you stay up to date on fashion trends and what advice do you give to customers?

Answer: I focus on L.A. fashion, not so much New York. It's a lot more fun there. I'm in Las Vegas once or twice each year for Fashion Week and read different fashion publications, like one called W. A lot of fashion is about overcoming stereotypical rules - rules are made to be broken. Everyone should always be adventurous and try new things. Break the norm, try new colors together. Don't be afraid to have fun with clothes. 

Lives in: Dublin

Favorite product in the store: accessory line Papaya 

Education: Fashion merchandising, Tarleton State University