Fashion, however, had always been one of her underlying passions.
“Everybody was always asking, ‘Where did you get your outfits?’ and things like that, so I was actually sending people other places to shop,” she said.
After transferring to the University of Tennessee in her sophomore year, Edwards studied fashion merchandising and consumer sciences, and she realized that, instead of sending people to other businesses, she should set up a shop of her own.
Edwards is now planning on opening a second location of her upscale women’s clothing store, Azlinn Hope Fashion Boutique, at 106 Tipton St. in downtown Johnson City near the beginning of November. The business, which has been around for about five years, currently operates out of Morristown, but was previously based in Jefferson City.
The boutique’s new spot in Johnson City, which used to be home to Overmountain Outdoors, is sandwiched between the Silverball City pinball arcade and a yet-to-be constructed building that will eventually house a new restaurant from the business partners behind Stir Fry and Label.
After benefiting from what Edwards described as a thriving downtown atmosphere in Morristown, she said she was eager to be part of the rehabilitation of downtown Johnson City.
Having spent time shopping in stores and eating at restaurants in the city’s downtown area, Edwards realized Johnson City would be a good place to expand her business.
“Everything has been for sale, and now it’s under construction,” Edwards said. “I feel like we’re at that point where we’re capitalizing on the growth.”
Edwards believes Azlinn Hope Fashion Boutique should occupy a fairly unique niche in the local market. The store’s target customer is between the ages of 20 and 55.
“A cool way to think about us is that you can shop generationally, and so you can shop with your friends, you can shop with your daughter, your mom, your grandmother,” she said. “Anyone can come in and find something.”
Edwards said her boutique is known for its dresses and sells curated collections for events. It also specializes in what Edwards calls a “work to weekend” look that’s versatile enough to pair with dress pants or a skirt in a professional setting or jeans and flip flops on a day off.
Dianna Cantler, downtown development director for the Johnson City Development Authority, said she’s been wanting a women’s boutique in downtown for a while. She recently took a trip to Edwards’ store in Morristown.
“The minute I walked in, I knew that’s what we wanted in downtown,” Cantler said. “She’s going to be a great, proactive business owner that’s going to really embrace being a part of downtown.”
Edwards grew up around Morristown and Jefferson City. She and her husband, who works at Eastman Chemical Co., now live in the Johnson City area.
“We’ve kind of created a lot of roots here,” Edwards said. “My husband is from here, and we know a lot of people, and so I think Johnson City will be awesome for us.”