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Grand Rapids West Side boutique sets trend for bridal, mother-of-bride fashions

When Angie Austin opened her fashion boutique on Grand Rapids' west side last February, she had no idea that just eight months later she'd take on a business partner, triple the size of the shop and add an entire bridal boutique.

The original Renee Austin Boutique, 444 Bridge Street, now includes Renee Austin Wedding at 442 Bridge, a bridal boutique managed by Austin's new business partner Maggie Torongo. The two women, both in their 20s, met through a mutual friend. Their shared passion for retail and fashion opened the door for a budding partnership resulting in the expanded shop.

"Renee Austin Wedding has wedding gowns, mother of the bride dresses, bridesmaids' dresses, veils, accessories and shoes, and we rent tuxedos and shoes for the grooms," Torongo says. "We have all types of dresses, including tea length and long, and we have jackets and boleros, too."

Austin chimes in, "We try not to carry matronly dresses," she says. "A lot of moms come in and say 'I don't want to look like a grandma' so we carry elegant and classy styles."

Those styles come in sizes ranging from 4 to 22. For the spring fashions, sizes will range up to size 30.

"I think people like it here because we're real people, too," Austin says. "We get to know the girls, we get to know their families and everybody says it feels like this is their living room.

"A bride and her mom came in after they had been a lot of places and couldn't find a gown," Austin continues. "We found eight dresses for the bride to try and she bought one. The mom said 'thank you so much for making my daughter so happy' and they were both teary. Maggie and I just looked at each other and said this is why we do what we do."

Source: Angie Austin, Renee Austin Boutique; Maggie Torongo, Renee Austin Wedding

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Deborah Johnson Wood is development news editor for Rapid Growth Media. She can be contacted at deborah@rapidgrowthmedia.com.



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