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2024 Readers Choice Winner | Jaxe + Grace Boutique
Best Women’s Clothing Store | Nicest Boutique Staff
Jaxe + Grace Boutique
Jaxe + Grace Boutique owner Rachel Smith makes sure a rack looks perfect from both inside and outside the store. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff

While the business of clothing boutiques is a competitive one in Statesboro, Jaxe + Grace Boutique has cemented itself as a favorite among locals since its opening in 2016 — so it’s no surprise that 2024 Readers Choice voters recognized both the shop and its employees this year, with awards for Best Women’s Clothing Store and Nicest Boutique Staff. 

Owner and founder Rachel Smith arrived in Statesboro eight years ago as part of her husband’s assignment to recruitment duty with the U.S. Marine Corps, with plans to remain here just three years before relocating to their next military destination. Driven by a desire to fill a need she found lacking in the area, Smith soon opened Jaxe + Grace Boutique — a name that references her son, Jackson (“Jaxe”), and her strong faith in God (“grace”) — in a modest storefront downtown.

“I was a curvier woman and not in college anymore and had a hard time finding clothes (locally) that fit that were stylish and modest,” Smith recalls. “I wanted to provide women with affordable, comfortable and stylish clothing to wear, no matter their age, shape and size. I wanted every woman to feel confident.”

Originally, her intention was to keep the business small so that it could be relocated along with her family. But in 2018, two years into their three-year Statesboro stint, that plan was turned on its head when Smith’s husband was retired from the military due to medical issues. With an upcoming move no longer in question, the Smiths decided to make Statesboro their permanent home — and Jaxe + Grace has never stopped growing.

After expanding for a third time to its current location in downtown Statesboro, at 65 E. Main St., Smith’s shop has become known for offering a wide selection of styles and fits, and she credits her team of employees with helping to decide how to stock the racks. 

“We don't cater to any one … niche,” she said. “I have a variety of girls help pick out clothes for the store. We have our curvy ladies assist in picking out curvy items. I help pick out the more ‘mature moms’ items, (and) then we have some of our college girls pick out the younger apparel. 

“We like to have a variety so we have something for everyone, so I think it's important to get input from various ages.”

With selections tailored to women of all shapes and sizes, the store’s friendly staff are happy to help shoppers find what they are looking for, pair up items they might not usually put together and provide a little confidence boost to shoppers. 

“We do our best to greet every customer as they come in the door so they know they are welcome and that we are willing to help them,” Smith said. “We like to give customers space to shop in peace but offer assistance when they may need it. It's sometimes a difficult balance, and sometimes we mess up, but we sure try as best we can!”

Jaxe + Grace Boutique
Employee Ansley Chalker of Jaxe + Grace Boutique tidies the counter inside the downtown shop. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff

That warm and welcoming atmosphere is something Smith and her team work hard to keep consistent.

“I believe when you come into Jaxe + Grace that you will feel the difference,” she said. “We are a laid back, fun and welcoming environment where anyone — no matter who they are, how much they spend (or) what they do — will feel welcome, without judgement.”

That desire for her business is rooted in the same faith referenced in the boutique’s name. In fact, in the interview process with potential employees, Smith makes it clear that her staff not only represent her and her business, but Jesus as well.

“I want Jaxe to be a place where people can come in and feel Jesus as they shop, so I think putting that out there really allows us to find girls who have the same heart and mission as me in my faith.”

As part of that mission, Smith and her team often reach far beyond the store racks to positively impact the lives of others. She doesn’t do it for personal recognition or to bring the store good publicity; rather, it's simply to bless others and to show her young employees that giving back is a vital part of being a follower of Jesus.

“We find people in need in our community around the holidays and donate thousands and thousands of dollars each December to various families and moms,” she said. “We go to our local gas stations, restaurants, Walmart, and find people who we feel could use a financial blessing, and slip them $1,000 to help them get through the holidays.

“It's been something we've done quietly since I opened, and I love giving to the community and helping families and mamas (who are) struggling.” 

Over the years, as the boutique’s floor space and customer base have continued to flourish, so has its online sales, reaching shoppers all across the Untied States.

“We have so many amazing online loyal customers and are constantly gaining new ones,” Smith said. “We give all first-time customers a cute little goody in their package to show them that we appreciate their business in a very oversaturated retail online market.” 

Jaxe + Grace Boutique
Employee Brooke Brown of Jaxe + Grace Boutique is all smiles as she rings up a customer. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff

Smith says many of the shop’s online regulars are “just as loyal as our locals,” and it’s important to her that they know they are seen and appreciated. 

In the wake of so much growth, about three years ago, Smith began to see a need to move the boutique from its downtown location into a larger storefront, ideally somewhere with a warehouse area to accommodate the steady growth in online sales. 

Now, after three years of praying and searching, she’s found it.  

Last month, Smith officially signed a lease for the newest home of Jaxe + Grace Boutique. Located at 41 Bernard Lane, just off Veterans Memorial Parkway and adjacent to Lowe’s, Smith says the space will allow her team to work more efficiently for online shoppers and will aid in the growth of online sales. 

“We’ve been looking for a bigger, better space (that is) more sufficient to our needs … and the Lord worked this new space all out in perfect timing,” she said. 

With hopes to move into the new location this summer, she is already working to ready the space for both her customers and staff — and she can hardly wait for its debut.

“We couldn’t have made this very exciting decision and move without the support of our community, so I’m so thankful for that!”

Jaxe + Grace Boutique
Jaxe + Grace Boutique - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff