For this week's Woman of Wilson, Maci Archer Phillips, personal and professional success go hand-in-hand.
Phillips, who at the age of 19 opened women's clothing store The Pink Cactus, reflective of her own glamourous-yet-laid-back style, said the venture isn't just a business but a "complete lifestyle."
The Pink Cactus was born from Phillips' lifelong love of fashion. "I was always the best dressed girl at the horse show," she joked, explaining that she has always had two-sides - one prim and proper and one outdoors-y and adventurous. "I would be climbing trees and baiting my own fishing pole in a fresh manicure and pink sundress."
After graduating from Friendship Christian School, Phillips attended Middle Tennessee State University to pursue a degree in agricultural business. She originally planned to work in marketing or public relations for a cattle breed association before fashion came calling.
"I started this business by setting up a booth making my own jewelry at rodeos and tractor pulls," she said. "After a year of doing that I realized it was time to take the next step in my business and go storefront."
The Pink Cactus opened on May 11, 2012. Being a young business owner has come with many challenges, Phillips admitted, but she has overcome them with a "never-give-up attitude."
"I do not get to just sit around and play dress-up all day ... It has taken endless hours of work and lots of dedication and determination," she said. "When people ask me what the most challenging part of owning and building a business is, my go-to answer is 'Well, there is no manual or how-to book to teach me the way. It takes a lot of trial and error.'"
The store has continued to grow over the last three years. The Pink Cactus offers adult women's clothing, shoes, jewelry and accessories.
"We don't just sell outfits; we strive to sell 'happy'. We want our customers to leave feeling great about themselves and their purchase ... We love making women feel amazing," she said. "We have a little motto at The Pink Cactus - 'If people ain't staring, change what you're wearing.' We feel like every lady deserves to stand out and feel beautiful."
Phillips said she receives a ton of support from her "PC family," including staff and customers and from her new husband, Bryson Phillips.
"My customers have come to know him as Mr. Cactus, because he is always running around the boutique fixing something or helping me with orders. He even attends the buyers' market with me," she said. "I will forever be thanking God for Bryson because I know He specifically made him for me. He is a God-fearing man who does not mind the pink, glitter and fluff that comes along with this crazy lifestyle."
The couple, who met when they were 14, married on Oct. 12, 2014 and honeymooned in Wyoming. Phillips described married life as "like one big sleepover with your best friend, but every night."
In her domestic life, Phillips has been learning to cook with the help of the "Southern Woman's Cookbook."
The woman she most admires is her mother, Sharon. "She is such a huge supporter of everything I do in life and has always been my number one fan. When I am having doubts or second guessing myself she is always there reassuring me and teaching me to live by faith, not by fear," Phillips explained. "I am so thankful for a momma who also happens to be my best friend. Not many girls can say that."
Phillips called her mother "the hottest mom around" and shared that she was able to wear some of her high-waisted shorts from high school on her wedding day during hair and makeup time. "That was my something old," she said. "I can only hope and pray I'm half the mother she is and that my daughter looks up to me the way I do with my mother."
Her future plans include launching a Pink Cactus website with the same offerings as the storefront location at 340 South Cumberland Street, having a farm full of animals and eventually becoming a mother herself.
"My goal for right now is to be the best wife I can be. My plans for the future will come when God has them planned," she said.