By Bonnie Mentel
“My mom and I opened the store in December 2014. It was the first business that we have ever owned. We had to step out in faith to do this, but it really came together in about six weeks for us. We prayed about it and really only told my dad and my husband. Within six weeks from the time we started, we opened. That was really a God thing,” Hannah Benton said.
Benton and her mother, Brigitte Hodge, traveled to a market in Atlanta to pick out the items for their boutique. Then, they hit the ground running with construction plans and started decorating the space with a goal to open in a short amount of time.
RAOK (Pronounced Ray-Oak) stands for Random Acts of Kindness. They chose that name for the boutique because it was positive and uplifting.
“We want to make random acts of kindness a regular everyday occurrence by simply blessing each person who walks through our door,” Benton said as she explained their mission statement.
People in the community started calling RAOK a Christian boutique because of the ambiance.
“We create an uplifting environment; we have Scripture on the wall. We want an atmosphere that feels welcoming and comfortable. Most of the time we have Christian music playing. It really wasn’t our plan to play Christian music all the time, but we would listen to it as we were getting our store ready and it kind of turned into a thing,” Benton said.
RAOK tries to have something for everyone. They have jewelry sets that start at $8. It is their hope that people from all walks of life will come in and feel comfortable buying anything.
They offer clothing in sizes small through extended sizes (XXXL). They try hard to have something for all body types.
“We’re a mother/daughter duo. I’m in my 20s and our only other employee is my cousin, she’s younger than I am. My mom is in her 50s. We all do the shopping together,” said Benton. “We have clothed people from their teens to literally their 70s and 80s. My grandmother shops with us all the time. We have Instagram and Facebook pages that we sometimes cater toward our younger audience, but we have lots of different styles. You may come in on a Monday and by the time you come back on Saturday, it might look like a brand new store because we’re always getting a new shipment of clothing.”
RAOK currently donates a percentage of their profits to local charities. They have plans in the near future to donate money on a larger scale. They want to be able to bless different organizations and different people as they continue in their business.
The boutique is located at 2804 James L. Redman Parkway in Plant City. Their number is 754-7265. Hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Visit facebook.com/RAOKboutique.