Various colors graced the runway for the Divine Fashion show. A gallery of garments in hues of bright pink, yellow, and green were synonymous to old Havana. The excitement was substantive, the crowd couldn’t help but cheer and applaud with each garment preceding the next. It was more than anyone expected it to be, including the owner and CEO of Divine Boutique, Stepheny Jacquez. “I wanted to create an experience in Havana.” An experience and show that raised funds for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, with the help of Houston’s own Man of the Year contestant, Enrique Carillo. “I don’t see myself as a philanthropist. I just want to help. I’ve given toys to MD Anderson, I’ve raised funds for children with cancer and gave them gifts. That’s how I met Enrique.” The show, which was the boutiques second one, placed Stepheny on Houston’s radar. It took hard work and sacrifices for the young entrepreneur to get to this point.
“I started my life young. I met my husband when I was 15, I got pregnant at 16, then we got married. We were freaking out. I thought ‘what are we going to do?’ So I decided to enroll in college for nursing. We moved into an apartment. A year and half into it, [my husband] says ‘I want to open a business.’ I’ve always trusted my husband. So we did it. I was turning 18, he was 20, and we opened a car dealership. We worked from sunrise to about 10pm, with our son. We dedicated everything. We thought, ‘do we want to be stereotype parents, living off food stamps, or do we want to work?’ The business grew fast. Then I thought, ‘I need a career too.’ I liked nursing, but I wanted to do something that made me happy. Something for myself. I helped him, but I wanted to focus and follow my dreams. I’ve always had a passion for fashion, and that’s where the idea for the boutique came.”
Stepheny recalls her mother telling her that the first impression is everything. “She always made sure we had our looks in place and that we looked good and well dressed. No matter where I went, I always knew I had to look my best.” This is the basis for Divine’s aesthetic. “I love to see other women feel sexy and comfortable in their skin. I wanted to sell clothes for women to feel powerful when they walk in the room.” Running a business was nothing new to her. Her grandparents owned a store in Mexico, and she would help them every time she went. “When I opened my store, it came natural to me.”
So natural, that Stepheny put on the show and party of the season. The music from the live Cuban band filled the rooms of Chapman and Kirby. You could hear shoes tapping quickly against concrete, to the rhythm of salsa and merengue. It would be close to impossible to find yet recreate the art that Stepheny mastered. Each Divine dress and Mar de Dios bathing suits by Paris Rodriguez was especially selected for the night. Festari For Men RTW suits were modeled by, Andre Hal, former Texan, the Houston SaberCats and Mike Chabala of the Dynamos in light purple, peach, and hues of blue. Finally, silver and gold crystalline two-piece sets closed the show leaving everyone wanting more. “Later this year: bigger venue, more designers. The boutique helped me build a name, and we’re growing.”
(Divine Boutique is in the process of moving to a new location, but the complete collection can be purchased through their online store.)
Photo Credit: Gary Hufham