Ivy Reina is a boutique clothing brand that helps women unleash their inner queens by providing size-inclusive clothing and accessories that makes women feel confident and free to express themselves through their style. We are constantly working on expanding the size range we cater to without compromising quality and style. With that said, we currently carry sizes XS-4X and have recently added The Reina’s Kids, sizes 0Y-7Y, so our queen mommies can shop for themselves and their little ones in one place. 

Ivy Reina is owned and operated by Ashley Hernandez. I often refer to my business as we are for two reasons: I hope to have paid employees helping to grow my business. Second, I refer to my business as we because I often refer to myself and my company. I opened my boutique in the summer of 2019 while teaching 7th-grade science because I realized I told my students to follow their dreams. 

It has been my dream to open a women's clothing store that serves all women since I was a little girl. At that time, I never imagined I'd be able to use the internet to make my dreams come true, but here we are, living in the 21st century. I still remember shopping with my mom searching for a size ten husky. At ten years old, I had a curvy body, but what little girl wants to be called husky? Luckily the term switched to Plus and, eventually, my favorite, curvy. I loved the word curvy because it is the perfect term to describe my body, which meant finding jeans for "Big Booty Girls," i.e., me. Fast forward to my college years, I worked full time and went to school full time. How I managed that, I will never know, but in the end, I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Merchandise Management and Design from Wade College (shout out.) Little did I know I'd fall victim to the millennial curse of not being able to find an entry-level job in my field because of "lack of experience." After almost a year of job searching, life, aka student loans, hit, and it was time to start looking into plan C, becoming a teacher. Ivy Reina was always “plan A,” but plan A needed funds that I just didn't have. In my second year of teaching, that feeling of "this isn't it" sank in for me. Don't get me wrong, every year, I fall in LOVE with my kids, but I wasn't following my dreams like I was telling them to do, so in the second semester, I started working towards my goals. 

I spent that year researching everything I needed to do to start up my boutique. Finally, it was time to come up with a name, and all I could think of was a conversation I had had with my husband about our future children. I kept telling him that I don't like junior names, but I'd name her after him if we had a girl. His name being Ivan, it was an easy enough name for me to come up with, Ivy. He's always treated me like a queen, and I wanted to ensure that our daughter knew from the day she was born that she was a queen. One day he randomly said, "how about we call her Reina, or better yet, Ivy Reina?" My eyes lit up because, if you didn't know, reina means queen in Spanish, translating her name to Queen Ivy. Inspired by that conversation, I had the name of my store. After that we arrived here with a boutique that aims to make every woman feel like a queen. 

Once Ivy Reina was a registered business, I jumped right in and ordered my first batch of inventory and got my sisters and friends to model for me since I wasn’t in a place to start hiring models yet. I took my photos in a room in my house and had one of my friends edit the images. Were they the best photos? No, but they were the first photos for my boutique, and I was proud of them anyway. As I prepared to launch my business, I realized there was so much I didn’t know about social media and online selling, but I didn’t let that stop me, and I launched our first collection. Thank god for the support of my friends and family because otherwise, I might have started off failing. The realization that the sales weren’t just going to magically poor in sent me into a spiral of researching SEO and social media for business. I started applying what I was learning and seeing actual growth. Then the pandemic hit in 2020.

Once the pandemic first hit, I was still teaching, and it felt like the early vacation I needed, but as we continued to be at home, I realized I needed to push my business. However, I had a room full of clothing for going out or going to work and nothing really for sitting at home, which complicated things. So I started making home decor and jewelry to help boost some sales while we waited for the world to reopen. I was also introduced to TikTok and started having fun creating content for my brand. For whatever reason, TikTok didn’t feel as intimidating as Instagram, and I hopped right into it. Sales were slowing down because no one needed my products, so I reached out to some micro-influencers and started seeing sales again, but influencer marketing is expensive. It doesn’t guarantee sales either, so I had to rethink my strategy again, which led me to find a marketing mentor. She taught me how to set up email and SMS campaigns and plan my marketing strategy. Finally, I was seeing growth again. 

It’s now the 2020-2021 school year, my 5th year as a teacher, and I realized I was super unhappy and needed to change something so that I could breathe again. So I decided that this would be my last year teaching no matter what, and at the end of the school year, I held my breath and turned in my resignation. For the first few months, I had to find myself again and heal because my mental health was in such a bad place. Once I could see the light again, I poured everything into Ivy Reina. I booked pop-up shops for almost every weekend for two months and met a ton of small businesses. I got consistent with my social media and email/SMS marketing and started to see growth in my business. I also started taking my photos with my iPhone and posting them everywhere. I also learned to work smarter and added a few drop shippers to my brand to offer more styles without getting stuck with a ton of inventory, which allowed me to use my money to promote my brand. Now I’m working on building the courage to go live on my social media because, for whatever reason, that makes me nervous. All of this led to my business being asked to do pop-up shops at the Afro Soca Love festival, which doubled my sales from the previous month in one day. It was a long event, but it was so worth it. At this event, I met some fantastic people, and the following reach, the manager of a Macy’s store reached out to me to do a pop-up shop inside of their new concept store called Market by Macy’s.

Ivy Reina is still growing and working towards being able to open a brick-and-mortar for our queendom to come and shop. If I could offer any advice to anyone looking to start a boutique, it would be to research everything and let the experts help you, so you don’t have to make a ton of mistakes before you see success. Also, if you genuinely want to succeed, you must persevere through the hard times when no sales are coming in and prepare for every day like today will be the day you start getting hundreds of sales a day.



Ashley Hernandez

CEO, Ivy Reina

Ashley Hernandez