Five years ago, a beautiful baby girl was born. From the moment of her first breath, her mother vowed to create a wonderful life and promised the girl she could accomplish anything she could dream of. The child’s name is Maya. Inspired by the love and joy in Maya’s heart, her mother realized she could provide more not only for her own daughter but for all the children of Brownwood. On June 25, 2022, the mother opened her own storefront as Brownwood welcomed another ambitious female entrepreneur into business - Rachel Howell, owner of Luna Maya Baby Boutique!
Rachel Howell moved from Fredericksburg to Brownwood in 2019. She realized the unique growth and cultivating business atmosphere downtown has experienced in the last two years and was eager to join. Being a single mother, Rachel noticed a lack of baby products outside of big box chains like Walmart and Bealls. Following her mother’s footsteps in the retail industry, Rachel believed she could provide a place for relatives and loved ones to shop for baby showers, birthday parties, and everyday baby necessities. The opening of Shaw's Marketplace allowed her a vendor space to test her products. After a year of great success, Rachel opened her own storefront on Center Avenue. Taking her place among Brownwood’s small business owners is not only a great advance in Rachel’s career, but she has proven to her daughter that women are capable of whatever they set their minds to. She is a true role model to Maya and to all young entrepreneurs.
The following is an interview with Rachel about her journey in starting Luna Maya Baby Boutique.
“My name is Rachel Howell, I am currently 25 years old, and I am the owner of Luna Maya Baby Boutique in Downtown Brownwood. We moved to Brownwood with my parents from my hometown of Fredericksburg, Tx back in June of 2019. My daughter, Maya, was 2 at the time. As I started looking around trying to acclimate to this new city, I quickly realized there weren’t any stores that offered baby clothing or gifts except big box stores such as Walmart or Bealls. Growing up, my Mom had always managed retail shops and all of my work experience has been in the retail/boutique industry, so in the back of my mind there was always this inkling of “you can do that! You can own your own boutique!”. Truly though, I never quite believed the voice in my head and just assumed I’d always be working a regular 9-5. When I saw the need for a place where parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends, and kiddos could all come and shop for those baby showers, birthday parties, or just everyday necessities, I truly wanted to find out how I could make that missing link come to life.
I really feel like I was brought to Brownwood to bring this boutique downtown and to cultivate the friendships and partnerships that I have been blessed with. This downtown community is incredible, unique, and diverse. We all have so many different skill sets to offer and we work together seamlessly. I am so in love with it all. Every single person is a blessing and I am just grateful that my life led me here.”
“My daughter, Maya, first and foremost. I’m a single Mom and since day one of her being in my life, I knew it was my duty to show Maya she can accomplish absolutely anything, that she is capable of it all. Maya is the inspiration behind the style, the atmosphere, and the name. She’s my ‘why’. My next inspiration was the unique design and atmosphere that Brownwood is cultivating. It’s not your average small Texas town. There’s something very cohesive about every individual business. I wanted to add to that with my own style and flair.”
“Choosing a name back in 2020 was at first very difficult. I knew I wanted to somehow incorporate my daughter but didn’t want it to be too childish or whimsical. I wanted something sophisticated and unique, just like my brand. Something you wouldn’t hear very often and could easily associate with my business.
I want Maya to grow up bilingual so I’ve really encouraged her to learn in both English and Spanish. One of the earliest words she learned was ‘Luna’ which means ‘Moon’ in Spanish. The moon has always brought me peace, and I personally love anything celestial. At night, my parents and I would show Maya the moon outside and say ‘Look! It’s Luna! The moon!’ Maya would also call herself ‘YaYa’ at the time and she started saying ‘Luna Yaya!’ I was so overjoyed each time I heard her say that. One evening, my Dad actually said ‘Luna Maya, Maya’s Moon. I like that,’ and the rest is history! I knew in my heart that would be the name of my store.”
“We sell anything from clothing, sizes Newborn to 6T, to gifts including books and learning toys, pacifiers, diaper bags, and nursery decor. We also sell those timeless gifts such as baby books, milestone cards, and swaddle blankets.
I partnered with my good friends at Blazer Apparel here in Brownwood to create ‘The Brownwood Collection.’ These are onesies and toddler tees with niche graphics and our Luna Maya logo. One says ‘The Real Toddlers of Brownwood’ which is a spin off of the famous ‘Real Housewives.’ The other is our Brownwood Business T-shirt showcasing some of Brownwood’s best shops and eateries. This is the first edition of that business tee, we will be launching more editions in the future which will include even more businesses on them. And by popular demand, we also have adult sizes of those tees, as well!”
“I would say our Brownwood Collection, as well as our “Me & Henry” and “Vignette” brands. Both of those companies are based out of England and are excellent quality with good pricing. Just classic, casual pieces for boys and girls alike. Also our biggest seller over at our booth in Shaw’s Marketplace would have to be our special occasion outfits that are based on holidays such as Easter and Christmas. Those are the classic, southern prep dresses and rompers that everyone loves for those quintessential family photos and to keep as heirloom pieces.”
“Our style is unique to us, we have a darker, more celestial color scheme as far as our branding goes. This isn’t your average pink for girls and blue for boys clothing. We offer neutral, sophisticated, and timeless styles while still keeping that child-like feel.
Also, I believe our mission to make every individual that walks through our door feel comfortable, peaceful, and happy is what makes us a very special place. I have already had so many people come in to just sit and have a chat with me who don’t even look around the store sometimes. That is what I love. I love getting to meet people from all walks of life and get to know their stories. Get to know THEM. From the beginning I wanted Luna Maya to be a place for community, and that’s what we have created.”
“It was an adventure! I had never done anything quite like it before. I’m still learning each day and will continue to learn from here on out. Getting in touch with BMDD was the initial step after the purchase of this building in 2020 during the pandemic. The help they gave us was incredible, as well as the city of Brownwood in general. We soon realized the building would take a long time to remodel, so when I was offered the opportunity to open a space at Shaw’s Marketplace in 2021, I gave it careful thought but then dove in! That was the best decision I could have made for my business and for me personally. It allowed me to have that steady income while still making this dream of having my own location a reality. Everyone at Shaw’s has been supportive of this dream since day one. I still have my space at Shaw’s and will continue to have it for the foreseeable future.”
“So many things are different having this location open. The first thing that comes to mind is developing those owner/client relationships. At Shaw’s, the staff works so hard to ensure we get sales and that our booths remain organized, but I personally was missing out on seeing what people would choose for baby showers and getting to know who supported my business. Now, I see every face that walks in, it’s incredible and encouraging! Having my own hours of operation and getting to choose those are a blessing in itself, especially as a Mom. Being able to offer even more products and options here in a larger space is so exciting. I have more sizes to choose from, and a larger price range to cater to budgets from $10 to hundreds of dollars! I also am able to offer baby registries in store now for all those expecting Moms out there!”
“I have many plans in the works for the future, including Moms Night Out and events with the local Chamber of Commerce. I hope to be able to host baby showers in the future, as well. To add to that long list of things I want to accomplish, I have big plans for partnering with local charities to help underprivileged women and children as soon as we get our feet firmly planted here at this location.”
“They have been helpful in all aspects, from support and advice for new business owners and people that have zero clue what they are doing, to financial aid with the grants for revitalizing downtown. I cannot recommend them highly enough for their help and kindness throughout this process. The city made me feel like I was a priority to them and that they truly cared about seeing me succeed in my business. They are always just a call or text away whenever help is needed.”
“Do it, even if you’re scared! There will be days that you just want to throw in the towel, but don’t. You’re here for a reason, you have your own ‘why,’ and you have the ability to change your town for the better if you just put in the work! Never stop learning and never assume you know it all already, because you definitely don’t. Create your own legacy, be your own hype man, believe in yourself and everyone else will, too.”
“This journey has only just begun, but I can’t wait to see how it evolves and how it grows with Brownwood. Something I will never forget in this lifetime is how supportive and encouraging this community has been since day one at Shaw’s Marketplace when I was able to launch Luna Maya, and it has only continued with the opening of this location. I am so blessed. Sometimes I have to pinch myself to realize this is all happening. I couldn’t be more grateful.”