Debbie Boykin and Kristine Morgan had been friends a long time when they decided to do something a little different.
So Boykin and Morgan joined forces and talents, opening not one but two locations of their store, Divine Divas, in a span of a couple of months.
“We concocted the idea last summer,” Morgan, who grew up in Springfield, said. “We just wanted to do something different. I wanted to do something different and creative in the retail industry.”
Boykin, who spent a long career in the transportation business before opening the boutiques, had been Morgan’s boss. Boykin was used to a fast-paced world, while Morgan was more graphically oriented, Morgan said.
“We’ve been friends for 17 years,” Boykin said. “We knew it was something we wanted to do.”
Their store — complete with a hand-painted floor done by Morgan that has drawn a great deal of interest from their parents, as has their ceiling — offers gift items for women and for the home with the tag line of “indulge your temptations, be a divine diva.”
“We offer home décor,” Morgan said, “candles, specialty items, little unique gift items.”
“Our gift bags are well known through Gulfstream,” Morgan said.
Customers also have asked Boykin and Morgan for interior decorating, which they provide.
“There’s so much we offer,” Boykin said.
They also try to come up with creative ideas, such as “dine with the divine divas,” she said.
One of their regular patrons suggested an Effingham location and Vera Jones told them she had a tenant moving to a bigger location.
“We said, ‘We’ll take it,’” Morgan said. “This is a desired thing in this area. It’s an upscale shopping experience for the Rinconite consumer.”
Boykin and Morgan got their paperwork and financing in order and opened their Pooler location less than a month later in March. Their Rincon location opened June 19.
“We’re moving right on,” Boykin said.
Said Morgan: “We are divas on the move.”
So much so that Boykin is tinkering with the notion of a “diva search.”
“We’ll get a van (semi trailer) and paint it pink,” she said. “Coming to you soon.”
They needed that sense of humor and each other’s support as they were swamped on Mother’s Day when they had just the one location.
“Mother’s Day almost put us in a coma,” Boykin said. “It was a learning experience, a positive experience. We are ready for Christmas.”
Though Divine Divas is ostensibly for women, Boykin and Morgan can help their male customers find something for their female significant other.
“We offer a women’s wish list, so the men can come in and call and they are in and out of here in three minutes,” Boykin said.
Morgan said for the men who have trouble picking out a gift, many are scared to then pick the wrong thing and wind up getting nothing.
“They can call ahead and say, ‘I’ve only got $40,’ and we can put it together,” she said.
“And he’s done well and he’s not in the doghouse,” Boykin said. “They know they can come in and pull the wish list.”
Meanwhile, the second store has been busy, much to Boykin and Morgan’s great delight.
“We were scared summer would be slow, and it’s gone really well,” Boykin said.
“The public has been supportive,” added Morgan. “The response has been overwhelming. Vera has been fabulous.”
When Boykin and Morgan decided to launch their business, they also did it with showing other women that it can be done in mind.
“Some of the reason behind it is to show women if you do take the leap of faith, you can make it,” Boykin said. “People are all the time asking us — how did you do it. It was a leap of faith for both of us. We wanted women to know they can do it.
“We both have a sense of humor. But we want women to feel empowered.”
They also rely on each other on tough days. “We’re each other’s cheering squad,” Morgan said. “It’s an experience to work with your best friend and to know they’ve got your back. It is like a marriage. We’ve started into this for the long haul. Debbie said, ‘Failure is not an option.’”
“If we fail,” Boykin said, “it’s not because we didn’t try.”
They also have one more goal, one that seems to be in keeping with divas.
“You will see us on ‘Oprah’ one day,” Boykin said.