23-year-old Brownstown native transitions from employee to business owner

At 13, Grace Jaynes went by B.loved in Seymour and saw all of the pretty dresses and beautiful interior decor.

“I would tell everybody, ‘I want to work there someday. No matter what, I’m going to work there,’” she said.

A few years later, she went into the chic boutique to buy a prom dress.

“I just fell in love with the store, the experience, the environment, and I was like, ‘I don’t care what it takes, I’m going to work here,’” she said.

She remembers the staff being so nice, helpful and complimentary.

“It was just so special to have my mom there and that experience with my mom, and then my dad, we would get down to the final two and then he would want to come in and give his two cents on all of the things,” Jaynes said. “I personally felt so special in picking out this dress that I’m going to have pictures in for the rest of my life, and I just fell in love with that.”

In high school and college, she worked at the store part time. She was assigned to one of the fitting rooms and helped high school girls find their prom dress.

“When I started working there, that was my goal, just to make everybody feel as special as I felt that first time that I was in there,” Jaynes said.

Her senior year at Indiana University, she was in the process of applying for dental school when she realized that wasn’t what she wanted to do with her life.

“My heart is telling me to be here,” she said of B.loved. “I came to Brandy (Hampton, owner) and I was like, ‘I want to work for you.’ That was like a shock to everybody, especially my parents.”

In May 2022, Hampton decided she was going to sell the business she started in 2013 to Jaynes. That became official July 1, 2022.

Jaynes said Hampton had a second job as a representative for a designer.

“She was like, ‘I just can’t do the two anymore. I am ready to move on, but I want it to be in good hands.’ I was like, ‘I will make it happen. This is what I want to do,’” Jaynes said.

When Hampton originally made the offer, Jaynes said she thought about the first year she worked at the store and a discussion they had at the end of a busy prom Saturday.

“There was just a couple of us left and I vividly remember Brandy walking one direction and getting ready to leave and the conversation was like, ‘What are you going to do when you’re ready to retire? What happens to the store? What are you going to do with it?’” Jaynes said. “‘I don’t know. I hadn’t thought about it.’ I was like, ‘Well, if that time ever comes, call me. I will buy it from you.’”

Jaynes, a 2018 Brownstown Central High School and 2022 IU graduate who is now 23, didn’t expect that to come so soon.

“I was like, ‘This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I’m not going to let this pass me by,’” she said. “I think my support system, like my mom and dad (Mary Ellen and Doug Jaynes) and sister (Sydney Jaynes), they believe in me so much. My boyfriend (Clay Wilkerson), he believes in me so much, and I know Brandy believes in me.”

Jaynes said she and Hampton have been very close since she started working at B.loved.

“She’s like my older sister/second mom all in one,” Jaynes said. “I feel like we’re very similar in a lot of ways with the way that we care about people. I am also very level-headed, and I don’t get worked up over a lot of things, which I think that helps me with running a business.”

From Day 1, she said there’s just something about the place.

“It’s my happy place,” she said. “It’s just the energy. People walk in and you see all of the pretty dresses, and it’s special. It’s about the occasion. You are about to purchase a dress for one of the most special occasions, and I get to help you with that and let you feel beautiful and confident.”

Besides prom dresses, B.loved specializes in short homecoming and winter formal dresses, bridal gowns and accessories, bridesmaids dresses, mother’s dresses and tuxedos for wedding parties and proms.

“I feel like this is so my calling to be able to work with people,” Jaynes said. “It’s very intimate. These gowns are big-occasion gowns, like weddings and proms and mother’s dresses and everything, and to take care of people and make them feel special and make them feel confident that day of, like they cannot wait to put this dress on, they can’t wait to put this tux on, they feel good, it makes me feel good.”

She likes being part of the process and getting to know each customer.

“We make buying a prom dress just as special as we make buying a wedding dress,” she said. “I get to have a conversation with a customer, learn about them, learn about what they like, learn about their family because they are bringing their family in here, learning about their friends.”

Everyone has different levels of reactions, Jaynes said.

“To see the emotions and to see someone get so excited about the way that they look in a dress and just be so happy and excited to wear this the day of such a big event in their life, it’s really amazing to know that I know what I’m doing, I’m able to help them when they wouldn’t have been able to do it on their own,” she said. “You need somebody who knows what they’re doing and talking about, and I’m glad that I get to be the person.”

Jaynes said customer service is one thing that sets B.loved apart from other shops.

“That was always Brandy’s biggest thing and what I fell in love with and what I wanted to continue on,” she said. “From the second you step in the door, you’re greeted by someone who is wanting and ready to help you. Through the whole process, somebody is there to help you and listen to you and just make you feel special and hype you up and do all of the things.”

Jaynes has two full-time employees year-round, and during prom season, she likes to have at least 20 employees.

While transitioning from employee to business owner took some adjusting, Jaynes has adapted well and continues to love what she does for a living.

“From day to day, this doesn’t even feel like a real job,” she said. “I’ve said from Day 1 since I started working here ‘I would do this job for free.’ I love this work so much.”