Corrie Ismaili was on vacation in Hawaii when she decided to open a gift shop in Cary.
“We were in Hawaii and in and out of these cute boutiques,” Ismaili said. “My husband said, ‘This is you.’ ”
She and her husband, Steve, always wanted to own a business, she said.
“But we didn’t want to go into food, which is what my family did,” she said.
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A gift shop seemed to be just right. When they returned home, the couple secured space in a Parkside Town Commons, a new shopping center near their west Cary home.
“We live right up the road and I knew that we needed a gift store on this side of town,” she said.
Halie’s Boutique opened in August. The shop sells unique gifts, home decor, accessories and clothing with prices from $5 to $500. She often has promotions listed on the store’s social media pages.
“I thank God for a patient husband,” she said. “We wanted to make sure the time was right. We shopped together for furniture and displays ourselves. We didn’t have an architect. It was our shared vision.”
The store is named after the Ismailis’ daughter, who was 5 when she died unexpectedly of a brain aneurysm.
“She was full of life and sparkle, and the store reflects that,” Ismaili said.
In tribute to her daughter, she carries several products that give back, including a Donate Life bracelet that she designed. Her daughter was an organ donor.
She said she tries to set herself apart from other Southern boutiques, though she does have on-site monogramming.
“Being from New York, I am not a true Southern girl,” she said. “I don’t sell Lilly or Kate Spade.”
Entrepreneurship runs in the family for Ismaili, a fourth-generation business owner.
“My great-grandfather had a banana stand in New York City,” she said.
Halie’s Boutique continues the family feel, with Steve helping out when he can and their three children occasionally pitching in on the sales floor.
“I bring them here and put them to work,” she said.
Although she was aware of the pressure of owning a business, she said, she still wasn’t fully prepared for what that entails.
“I knew it would be hard and stressful, but it’s been more stressful than I thought,” she said. “I appreciate the stress my parents were under when I was growing up. I wasn’t completely aware of it.
“But I wouldn’t change it. It’s stressful one day and the next day I have a great customer.”
Ismaili said she chose the right location for her shop, but looks forward to more businesses filling the still-empty storefronts that surround her store.
“I am 100 percent glad I did it,” she said. “I love it. I walk in every day knowing my daughter is with me and it’s ours. I may be here seven days a week, but it’s home.”