For nearly 10 years, local boutique Angel Concept has helped countless women find their footing in the workplace. Opened in 2012 by Sue Hosier, Angel Concept is a nonprofit job training program for disadvantaged women, providing them a safe and comfortable space to work as they make their way back into the workforce.
Before opening Angel Concept, Hosier worked as a nurse for 30 years. Accustomed to giving back to her community, she developed the idea for Angel Concept shortly after her retirement from healthcare left her feeling lost.
“I sat in my living room and cried because I felt useless. I had always been in a job that helped other people,” Hosier said.
Opening a boutique was undoubtedly a leap of faith for Hosier, who had conjured the idea from her combined loves of shopping, giving to charity and uplifting other women.
“I had no idea what I was doing. I had never worked retail before in my life. I worked in intensive care at the hospital, so I figured if I could survive intensive care, I could figure it out. You want to live a life that’s worthwhile,” Hosier said.
Hosier has since seen overwhelming success. From the outside, Angel Concept appears to be the quintessential small-town boutique. Angel Concept has gone beyond selling clothing and housewares, however, and has seen every woman who has gone through their program successfully find a job.
The women who go through the job training program come from all walks of life, with circumstances such as addiction, serving time or domestic struggles keeping them out of work for an extended period of time. They are usually referred to Angel Concept by a counselor or mentor and typically work at the boutique for three to four months, receiving pay throughout the entire process.
Volunteers help run the store alongside the women in the program. Both volunteers and trainees dress in the same colors and are tasked with the same responsibilities in the boutique, creating an atmosphere free of judgment and division.
“Our volunteers have really good souls. They’re all here working for free. They’re mentors for our girls in the program, and they work hard. It’s the most supportive work environment you could be part of,” Hosier said.
Although the women working at Angel Concept are part of a job training program, Hosier explained that oftentimes building back one’s confidence is the most valuable and necessary part of the process.
“It’s hard. If you haven’t worked for a long time, you usually feel like you can’t. We just cheer them on, but they do it all themselves,” said Hosier.
Angel Concept is located on Main Street in Downtown Littleton, just three blocks from the light rail and in the path of a bus route. Hosier was intentional in choosing the boutique’s location, wanting it to be located in an easily accessible and friendly neighborhood.
“We wanted them to have a pretty, safe spot of support to come to, and I think we managed to do that,” Hosier said.
Frequented by locals and tourists alike, Angel Concept donates 5% off the top of its sales to charities that support women. The customer gets to choose which organization to give to with their purchase, with choices ranging from supporting victims of domestic abuse to helping breast cancer patients with expenses.
Angel Concept also hosts a “bargain boutique” in its basement in which everything for sale was donated by customers. Hosier noted that community support has been overwhelming throughout the years, with customers driving long distances and giving away priceless items as a way to back the boutique and its mission.
Throughout the years, Angel Concept has provided a space for women of all ages to uplift each other, with program graduates ranging from 18 to 63 years old. Program graduates have gone on to manage other stores, receive a master’s degree and get promoted in their new careers, Hosier said.
For Hosier, these success stories are the end result of a much bigger personal development transformation the women in the program undergo.
“They change so much over the period of four months that it’s acutely noticeable. We thought we were going to teach everybody how to work, but that isn’t what they usually needed. They didn’t think they could [work], but by the time they graduate they know they can,” said Hosier.
This October, Angel Concept will be celebrating its 10th anniversary with a fundraiser for the store. Though a decade has passed since the store’s opening, Hosier is still unwavering in her effort to provide a space for women to lift each other up.
“Nobody knows when they’re going to have a hard time, and some of us are luckier than others. Some people have never had a lucky moment in their life through no fault of their own. If we can help somebody with a step up, we’ve done a really good thing,” Hosier said.
Angel Concept is located at 2510 Main Street in Downtown Littleton. For more information, visit their website.
All photos courtesy of Angel Concept.