GARFIELD – Making women feel beautiful has become therapy for the owner of Sisters Bridal Boutique in Garfield.
“It is what keeps me going, what keeps me sober, what keeps me humble,” said Christina Stec, a domestic violence survivor and recovering drug addict from Fair Lawn.
“I know this is how I can give back to other people."
Stec got her start at the shop by ironing clothes and greeting customers.
“I fell in love with the business,” she said.
So three years ago, when the previous owner decided it was time to sell, Stec decided to purchase.
The shop is now a full scale bridal boutique, packed with beautiful designer wedding gowns. Customers come from as near as Saddle Brook and as far as New York and Pennsylvania to find their dream dresses.
Before Stec took over, the shop sold items like pant suits, blouses, and a few dresses, she said.
She donated the leftover clothing to domestic violence victims, so they could dress for job interviews.
Stec does a lot of things like that.
She is a member of Wayne-based Soroptimist International of Passaic Valley. The group gives back to the community and supports domestic violence shelters, she said.
And Stec openly shares her past with domestic violence victims, in hopes that her experiences will help them.
“We make them feel important, because they are important,” she said.
Stec said some days are still tough. Like when she saw bruises on a woman as she tried on her dress.
“She was completely bruised up. As soon as she left, I went to St. Anne’s Church and cried and cried,” she said.
But most days, she is happy that she can help women feel their best.
A wedding “is such a crucial and important part of a woman’s life,” she said.
“To be a part of that is really remarkable.”
Stec credits her husband with helping her flourish.
“I could never be the businesswoman I am today, if I didn’t have the love and support from my husband,” she said.