ENCOURAGED AND EMPOWEREDMoriah Apparel CEO Jillian Everett wants to do more than sell clothes. She wants women to know their worth.
By Emily Sparacino
Photos by Dawn Harrison
Jillian Everett grew up traversing Hoover’s South Shades Crest Road, a main thoroughfare in her hometown. She didn’t know it would be the place where her entrepreneurial dreams would take root.
Everett, 24, opened her first women’s clothing boutique, Moriah Apparel, in early August in a storefront located between Sanpeggio’s Pizza and Precision Tactical Arms Company off South Shades Crest Road. She and her parents, Karen and Scott Everett, happened on the vacant 1,200-square-foot space one day and thought it could be the answer to their prayers for Jillian’s first business.
“We went in the suite, and in my heart, God was like, ‘This is it,’” Jillian says.
They worked for months to transform the empty space into the boutique Jillian had envisioned. Her father handled the construction and interior renovations, incorporating reclaimed wood from the family’s first home in Hoover. Her mother has assisted her with the shop’s bookkeeping and other business-related matters.
“My mom helps me out with all the behind-the-scenes things, with the books and staying focused,” she says, adding her mother and a friend go to market with Jillian in Atlanta to help her choose new merchandise for the shop. “I have a hard time because I like everything.”
Jillian also has a network of girlfriends who provide honest feedback on the clothing and accessories at Moriah Apparel. Jillian’s goal for the overall style of her inventory is “on the bohemian side with a homey, Southern flair,” which pairs well with the shop’s rustic-chic interior, a study in reclaimed wood and antique furniture. “Everything in the store is an antique,” she says. “I love antiques.”
A delicate white wall-hanging Jillian’s friend’s mother made for her daughter’s wedding now hangs on a wall in the shop, and often serves as a backdrop for planned and spur-of-the-moment fashion photo shoots.
Most of the jewelry at Moriah Apparel is handmade by a Hoover High School junior named Jessica Bradley for her brand, Inspired By Jewelry. “I’ve been really blessed with a lot of creative friends,” Jillian says. “It takes a team.”
For Jillian, Moriah Apparel represents an intersection of fashion, faith and entrepreneurship, a place where she can grow in different facets of her life, but also walk alongside other women on their personal journeys. “I knew I wanted to own a business, and I always went back to fashion. I think for me, clothing is exposing the human heart on the outside, expressing your heart on the outside.”
Jillian has two younger siblings; a brother named Salem, 20, and a sister, Tara, 22. Jillian was homeschooled until her junior year in high school, when she begged her parents to let her attend public school and have experiences like prom and football games with her peers. She graduated from Hoover High School the next year, grateful for the opportunity to meet new people and learn in a different environment.
After graduation, Jillian’s career prospects began to take shape. Her father has been a pastor since she was 4 years old, and over the years, Jillian has played the keyboard and sung with him at churches in other cities, including Nashville. A producer who was in the audience during one of their performances heard Jillian sing and approached her about recording an album.
“I got a record deal in Nashville and toured the South for two years,” she says. The Christian pop, three-song EP, titled “Revived,” is available on iTunes. When the tour ended, Jillian re-evaluated her goals. Singing has always been her primary outlet, and she still writes music and leads worship at her father’s Hoover-based church, Elevate, but she decided to open herself up to new career adventures. She had managed boutiques for three years, and beyond her knowledge of how to run a boutique, she loves helping other women overcome personal insecurities by finding outfits that reflect and highlight their God-given character traits.
“Growing up, I was extra insecure with my self-image,” she says, adding that leading worship has helped her gain confidence. “I wanted to help people see their beauty and self-worth. My goal in ministry has been women’s ministry. I just really want women to be empowered.”
Jillian says the path to opening Moriah Apparel was a five-year process, during which she saved enough money to be able to fund the entire business by herself.
The name “Moriah” means “land of vision” and is a mountain range in Israel. Jillian says helping women form or strengthen a vision for their life is her mission at Moriah Apparel. “I love helping people find themselves through that.”
As Jillian watched the Moriah sign one of her good friends painted being mounted to the wall behind the checkout counter at the shop, she was overcome with emotion. “I definitely had a moment like, wow, this is real.”
And owning a shop allows her to have personal conversations and prayer with customers.
“It’s nice to have that freedom,” Jillian says. “This has been so liberating for me, feeling like I have the freedom to do what I want to do.”
Jillian’s life verse is Deuteronomy 30:19, a daily reminder to her to “choose life in everything I do,” to find light and positivity, even in the darkest of circumstances.
“I’m in a constant state of smile,” she says. “I truly love living. I just always try to find the bright side.”