Two years after opening their first business, Mia's Boutique, which they believe to be Kern County's first mobile clothing store, sisters Maraiah Bermudez and Mia Valdez have opened Mélange Boutique.
And the goal of the sisters, ages 21 and 16, is not simply financial success.
The boutique, located at 1515 19th St., opened in December 2018. Its purpose: Help those in need.
“I wanted to do something to help the unfortunate,” said Valdez.
At age 13, Valdez started selling keychains at school and donating the proceeds to local homeless shelters. The keychains were popular and classmates started asking for more.
So Valdez expanded her business and started selling clothes. That's when sister Maraiah stepped in to help out.
The sisters decided on a pop-up store. They opened it in May 2018 and were so successful they soon moved to more spacious digs on 19th Street.
"Our clientele grew a lot more, so we decided to go bigger once this spot was available," said Bermudez.
Their success has enabled them to help those in need, which was always their main purpose.
"One of the most rewarding things is, we're able to give back, which is why we started," said Bermudez.
The sisters also collect canned foods from customers. Each can shaves down the purchase price of a given item.
The sisters also run an annual backpack drive for disadvantaged kids; it started Monday and runs through Aug. 3.
Customers can stop by the store and donate backpacks, notebooks, pencils and other school supplies. The sisters will then deliver the supplies collected to the Mission at Kern County.
"It gives us a purpose rather than just selling to sell. We actually have a purpose for what we're doing," said Bermudez. "It's always good to give back."
Customers who donate to the backpack drive will be entered into a raffle to win a $100 gift card good for merchandise at the boutique.
The girls have been rewarded with the support of one important segment of the community: The Mission, which sent thank you letters.
They're learned about the rewards of giving back. They've also learned about the challenges of owning a business.
"I think people think that it's as soon as you start (your business) that you start making money, which is a complete lie," said Bermudez.
It's hard work, with plenty of ups and downs.
"All the money you make from the business goes back to the business," said Bermudez. "But it's been a learning process, and we've learned a lot along the way."
The sister's boutique sells only women's attire, from crop tops and rompers to accessories, but they hope to one day expand with items for men and more locations.