Boutique owner goes from foster home to fashion







Buffalo Next

Noelle Wellington overcomes obstacles to open a clothing boutique, Queenz

Noelle Wellington entered the foster care system at the age of 2 and did not leave until the age of nearly two decades later.

“People used to tell me I’d be nothing, or be on drugs like my mom, and stuff like that,” she said. “So my ambition and determination has always been through the roof.”







Noelle Wellington, owner of Queenz

Noelle Wellington poses for a portrait in her Queenz store.


Joseph Cooke/Buffalo News


Coming out of the foster care system means making the difficult transition to adulthood without a support system — often after a lifetime of trauma — and all the statistics were against it, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures’ advisory group. Half of the foster children who come out of the system become drug addicts. A quarter will not have a high school diploma or GED. And more than one in five will end up homeless.

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Wellington made a conscious decision not to go to college because she wanted to avoid debt. She was also entrepreneurial and loved to work. She often worked 80 to 90 hours a week between retail jobs and home health care.







Noelle Wellington, owner of Queenz

Noelle Wellington inspects a coat in her store.


Joseph Cooke/Buffalo News


Then, at age 25, she had a car accident. Two years later, she received cash as part of a settlement and put every penny into opening her own clothing store called Queenz at 2577 Bailey Ave.

“I never really had clothes growing up. I used to go into my closet and pray over my clothes and say, ‘God, please multiply them,'” she said. “And then, years later, I have a clothing store.”

Sadly, that year was 2019, which meant Covid-19 was right around the corner. Wellington had to close the store, but was still responsible for rent and other bills. She stuck to her e-commerce operations and built a clientele.

Earlier this month, she reopened the brick-and-mortar Queenz boutique. It sells men’s and women’s clothing, women’s lingerie and accessories such as handbags.

She acknowledges that the road to get where she is has been difficult and there may be more bumps to come. But she also believes that owning a clothing store is nothing short of a miracle.

“It was a dream come true, and I have to give all my credit to God,” she said.

Welcome to Buffalo Next. This newsletter from The Buffalo News will bring you the latest coverage on the changing economy of Buffalo Niagara – from real estate to healthcare to startups. Learn more at BuffaloNext.com.

Pawsitive Vibes, a mobile vet, hits the road

Veterinarian Valerie Ciallella and former West Side Pet Clinic Director Joe Speranza have teamed up to launch Pawsitive Vibes Roaming Veterinary Care, a mobile veterinary clinic.

Pawsitive Vibes will conduct house calls, which owners say is beneficial for anxious dogs and convenient for elderly clients, those without transportation, or those with mobility issues.

New JC Penney Beauty concept heading to Walden Galleria

JC Penney in the Walden Galleria has replaced its Sephora Beauty store with its brand new concept, JC Penney Beauty. The new store-within-a-store is described as being “hyper-inclusive” of all skin tones, ages, races, budgets and hair types.

The new store will replace Sephora, as it migrates from JC Penney to Kohl’s stores after deciding not to renew contact with JC Penney. It will have 600 shops installed by spring.

New Taco Bell in West Seneca

A new Taco Bell has opened at 1175 Union Road in West Seneca. It is franchised by KBP Brands, which has more than 1,000 fast food restaurants in 31 states.

The store has free Wi-Fi, power outlets and comfortable seating. The drive-thru has a menu board with an electronic ordering system, which the company says will make orders faster and more accurate.

Walmart eliminates paper bags

Starting January 1, Walmart will no longer provide paper bags for customer purchases in New York State. Buyers will need to bring their own reusable bags.

Walmart stores are already bagless in Vermont, Maine and New Jersey.

THE LAST

Keep up to date with the latest economic news from Buffalo Niagara:

Throughout Western New York, healthcare workers have many stories to tell on how they weathered the blizzard while on the job.

Legal marijuana sales launched in the state on Thursdaybut not in Western New York due to a lawsuit that led to an injunction suspending sales here.

World Central Kitchen is back help feed the East Side of Buffalo in response to the blizzard which paralyzed the city for nearly a week.

Wells Enterprises to cut 183 jobs at its Dunkirk factoryfewer than the 319 employees the company previously planned to lay off.

A three-year contract guarantees Highmark members will continue to have access to the network to receive care at Catholic Health facilities.

Athenex closes its Newstead production plant and lay off all 92 employees effective March 17.

First efforts are underway to prepare for the third phase of the Northland complex redevelopment project in Buffalo.

The state is looking for ideas to redevelop a prison that closed last year in Gowanda.

Federal funding needed to launch a technology hub program was included in a year-end spending bill before Congress.

Cost vs Benefits: This is the compromise at the center of the state’s proposed climate change plan.

A development agency recruits a consultant to propose ways to improve the infrastructure connecting Canalside and the redesigned Centennial Park.

Slow hiring in the Buffalo Niagara region is due to a shortage of workersand local officials are beginning to look for ways to alleviate the crisis.

Big changes are coming to state energy markets after a plan to reduce harmful emissions has been approved by an advisory committee.

ICYMI

Five reads from Buffalo Next:

1. Bounce Back for Buffalo Niagara’s Economy: The value of all goods and services produced in the region, which had fallen by 3.4% during the pandemic, came back strong last year, with a gain of 5.3%.

2. The bills make me want to shop: How Buffalo Bills merchandise is one of the hottest local gift items this holiday season.

3. How Higher Education Institutions in Western New York Recovering from Covid-19? Enrollment in some local schools is holding up, but others are struggling to attract students.

4. New life for old stones: How a Buffalo company is finding new uses for old bricks and stones in construction projects.

5. Big changes are proposed for state energy marketsand it could change the way residents heat their homes and cook their food for years to come.

The Buffalo Next team gives you insight into the economic revitalization of the region. Email tips to [email protected] or contact Associate Business Editor David Robinson at 716-849-4435.

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