The Soul Behind Nations: A small business with a heart for others

The Soul Behind Nations: A small business with a heart for others

By Veronica Weathers

Nestled in downtown Homewood on 18th Street South with the smell of warm cookies from the bakery next door wafting through the air, is a small boutique with great clothes and a beautiful mission. Nations Boutique welcomes visitors in with a handwritten sign and a smile. Stationed in one of the older storefronts in downtown Homewood, the boutique has charming character and is covered with curated decor. A neon sign saying “Do Beautiful” illuminates the boutique, which radiates with kindness. Decorated with Bible verses, cozy candles and stylish photos on the walls, the boutique creates a comforting atmosphere.

Nations’ heartwarming atmosphere is not the only thing that makes the business stand out. Nations Boutique has an intense dedication to service. Partnering with various charities to further their Christian-mission, a spirit of giving pours from the business. Donating to philanthropic organizations in an effort to help marginalized communities and spread the gospel, Nations stands out among the Homewood businesses.

Founded in 2008 by Lisa Ann Muir-Taylor, Nations Boutique was founded on the Bible verse Hebrews 13:2: “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” The verse is displayed on every tag in the store. Initially designing the clothes and shipping from her basement, Muir-Taylor developed her dream of opening a boutique in Birmingham. Muir-Taylor never strayed from the dream placed on her heart. 

Nations’ mission statement states, “built on a passion to disrupt the fashion industry with a simple, yet profoundly different message, ‘DO BEAUTIFUL.”

Offering fashionable clothing with exceptionally personable service and a Christ-centered mission, Nations has succeeded in living out their mission. The boutique is now owned and run by Sarah and Miller Bradford, who came into ownership in March 2021. They value building authentic relationships with both customers and employees.

Sarah Bradford, a wife and a mother of two boys, has always had a passion for fashion. While attending Parsons School of Design in New York one summer, Bradford quickly realized that her heart did not lay in clothing production. While redirecting her passion, Bradford began attending Auburn University majoring in apparel design but later switched to a major in child life development and family studies with her marriage on the horizon. Despite this change in studies, Bradford knew fashion would be somewhere in her life.

After working various retail jobs and fashion-related ventures, an opportunity to storefront boutique fell into the couple’s lap. “The Muir-Taylors called us and said, ‘We’re thinking about putting Nations down. Would you and your husband want it,”’ Sarah explains. Taking over at eight months pregnant was daunting, and it left Bradford wondering, “How am I going to do this as a full-time mom?” However, Bradford felt called to Nations, and she trusted in God. With the support of her husband, Miller, who said, “If the Lord has called us to it we are going to do it,” the couple agreed to take on the business. Since then, they have evolved Nations and built a small team who help the couple run the store. 

Nations Boutique strives to sell clothes with a purpose. “For every purchase, we are giving away money. We give whatever the Lord tells us to,” Bradford explained. Nations is centered around the Bible verse Matthew 28:19, which reads, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations.” Bradford explains the clothes are more than simply clothes, saying, “We provide the clothes as a vehicle to get Scripture to people.”

The name of Nations Boutique materialized out of the store’s true passion: their philanthropic mission work. The boutique has been an opportunity for Bradford to combine her two passions: fashion and Christian missions. Wanting to support “God-led charities that are rooted in faith,” the Bradfords have a heart for unreached areas of the world. This passion led to their long-standing partnership with NeverThirst.

“Their heart for India and Jesus has changed so many people’s lives in India that wouldn’t be possible if they weren’t willing to make the sacrifices that they make as a business.” – Chloe Jerrigan, NeverThirst Office Manager

NeverThirst is a Birmingham – based non-profit organization that is focused on the water crisis across Africa and Asia. According to their mission statement, they “exist to bring clean and living water to the unreached.” NeverThirst “works in remote, hard-to-reach places, coming alongside local partners to bring clean and living water to marginalized communities throughout Africa and Asia.” Chloe Jerrigan, NeverThirst’s office manager, explains NeverThirst origins. In 2006, the three founders of NeverThirst were sitting in a sermon given by David Platt at the Church of Brook Hills they were inspired to take action. The sermon was centered on the verse Psalm 67:1-3, “May God be gracious to us, bless us, and cause His face to shine upon us, so your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations.” The founders answered the call to action and thus NeverThirst was born.

Jerrigan explained, “Our work wouldn’t be possible without Nations or businesses like Nations. Their giving matters and is changing people’s lives. We have multiple businesses whose main focus is helping others. They are not greedy or selfishly taking for themselves, they want to help others and they want to reach the unreached and spread the Gospel.” Bradford explained that last year, Nations Boutique gave away almost all their profits, which allowed them to sponsor a water well in rural India through NeverThirst. “We were able to equip them with fresh water as well as living water, which is the Gospel,” Bradford said.

Nations hopes that through their ‘Do Beautiful’ campaigns and partnering with nonprofits and ministries, they will be able to further their mission of “Do Beautiful.” Bradford attributes Nations’ success to God: “Don’t forget to give Him all the glory, it’s all just the Lord in the end.”