Small Business Spotlight: Rose & Lee

Owners Prisca Lee D’Rozario, left, and Amber Rose Brennan make ethical shopping fun and accessible in the heart of downtown Apex.

Set in a quaint, historic house in downtown Apex, Rose & Lee is a women’s clothing, accessory and gift boutique partnering with conscientious brands committed to making the world a better place. Thanks to a shared desire to make a difference in the world by building a community of change right here in North Carolina, owners Amber Rose Brennan and Prisca Lee D’Rozario opened shop in November 2019 and have been curating ethically crafted goods ever since.

We caught up with Brennan and D’Rozario to learn more about their goal to empower women locally and around the world.

How did your previous work experience influence the creation of Rose & Lee?

Before Rose & Lee was even a spark of an idea, Amber worked in store leadership at Target from 2010–2012. It was during this time that she first became aware of fast fashion and its devastating effects on the environment and the people behind the products. As she researched companies that were operating with fair working conditions and a respect for our planet, she began to dream of one day opening a boutique that would bring these brands together. In 2016, Amber met her now business partner, Prisca, while working in operations at a local nonprofit serving at-risk teenage girls. As Amber was exiting from her role in 2018, Prisca asked her what she had always dreamt of doing. It was then that Amber shared her vision to open an ethical boutique. Prisca was intrigued by the idea and immediately offered to join her if she ever decided to take the leap. Fast forward one year and they would be filing for the business license with the state and closing on a property to open shop!

What kinds of products do you sell?

We sell women’s clothing, accessories and gifts for the woman on the go! Our goal is to make ethical and sustainable shopping fun and accessible, rather than another box to check off of an already crazy to-do list. We offer styles for every occasion, from cozy work-from-home loungewear to chic night-on-the-town glam, all of which you can count on to be produced by brands that are transparent about their manufacturing processes.

Your products are described as “ethical and sustainable.” Can you expound on that?

Each brand we carry has some sort of unique mission, whether that’s sustainable business practices, employment opportunities for artisans around the world, giving back to local communities, or a combination of all three! We aim to educate and meet women wherever they are on their socially conscious journey, offering items made domestically here in the US, to jeans made with a fully traceable supply chain, using sustainable and natural ingredients that are carbon neutral. That’s why our motto is “Style With A Story” — we elevate the stories of makers and brand owners while educating and building a community of thoughtful consumers, and we’re so proud to be part of their stories and yours.

What do you love about owning your own business?

We love the relationships we have been able to build with our staff, customers and fellow downtown business owners. One of our absolute favorite parts of small business life is being able to put on fun and unique events to spoil the women in our community by creating experiences centered around them.

What has been your biggest challenge?

Our biggest challenge was opening in November of 2019, only to be stopped in our tracks in March of 2020 due to the pandemic. We laugh and say that never in a million years did we think we would be closing our doors just three months after opening. The first six months of the pandemic were a bit terrifying, but we were determined to keep our dream afloat. We invested heavily in professional development as well as doubling down on our online presence, ensuring we were doing everything we could to connect with our customers virtually. We are eternally grateful to our local Apex community for keeping us afloat during our first 12 months of operations, nine of which happened to fall during, you know, a global pandemic.

What inspires you?

We’re inspired by women everywhere! From the women behind the products we carry, whose tenacity in overcoming extraordinary circumstances made them the talented and gracious human beings they are today, to the women we meet every day shopping in our store or interacting with us online who have helped us build a thriving community of generosity and joy. We can’t help but be in awe of each and every one of them.

What kind of impact do you hope Rose & Lee has on the community?

Our goal is to empower and create transformation for women by ensuring that Rose & Lee is a safe and uplifting space to connect, laugh and do good as we all journey towards being more conscientious consumers.

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