Story by Sydney Anthony, Contributing writer
Alexis Cain, the first woman with Down syndrome to join a sorority at Murray State, has accomplished her dream of opening her own business: Ladybugs Boutique.
She said she’s wanted to open a boutique since she graduated from Murray State in 2015. Her boutique officially opened on Sept. 26.
While at Murray State, she was an active member of Alpha Sigma Alpha and obtained a Certificate of Achievement through Murray State’s College to Career Experience.
“Our favorite is taking lots of fun photos with the new clothes that come in, taking pictures with customers I know and hanging out with my coworkers,” Alexis said.
Alli Friedline, senior from Johnson CIty, Illinois, and Ladybugs employee, said Alexis wants the clothing sold at Ladybugs to make everyone feel beautiful.
Friedline said that Alexis is hands on in the day-to-day store operations because she is there working every day.
Camme Cain, Alexis’s mother and program development assistant in the Faculty Development Center, said she encouraged Alexis to follow her dream and now helps her at the store.
“We did not go by the business books,” Camme said.
Camme said Loretta Jobs, local realtor, came to Ladybugs one evening with the newspaper story Alexis was in and said she wanted to help.
Alexis said her parents were encouraging and wanted to help in any way possible, so they initially began saving money. However, start-up costs are high.
As a result, her friends started a GoFundMe for the boutique, which also helped Alexis to be able to hire other community members with intellectual disabilities.
Camme said the store was initially going to be online, but thanks to Loretta Jobs’ help in donating a space for the boutique, Ladybugs is now a physical store right off South 12th Street.
“I’m happy we were able to do this,” Camme said. “There are few opportunities for those with intellectual disabilities.”
She said they were also given the opportunity to help Allison Salazar, who has an intellectual disability, receive job training. Camme said Salazar helps with cleaning, stocking and scanning merchandise alongside other Ladybugs employees.
“Just because someone has an intellectual disability does not mean they do not have dreams,” Camme said. “An intellectual disability can happen to anyone, and they should have opportunities to accomplish their dreams.”
The boutique is located at 305 D University Square, 12th Street and is open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday.