Drugs to dresses: Local businesswoman uses dark past to inspire

Published: May. 4, 2018 at 11:21 PM CDT
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A small business owner in China Spring wants to inspire those struggling with addiction and crime to choose a better path.

“This was built from dirt, and you don't have to think about whether or not you're going to fit in somewhere, make your own space in the world,” said Sthefanie Welch, owner of the Black Daisy Boutique. “Shoot for bigger.”

Welch, 35, of China Spring, overcame demons including a crystal meth addiction, to become a successful business owner.

"I did it one time at school, and literally that was the end of my life as I knew it and the beginning of just something horrible,” said Welch.

The youngest of four children raised in a tough Los Angeles, Calif. neighborhood by a single mother who worked a lot, Welch had mostly unrestricted freedom, and started using marijuana in middle school.

In high school, she moved to Las Vegas with her mother, and started hanging out with the wrong crowd.

"It went from using crystal meth, to using crystal meth and heroine, then crystal meth and heroin and drinking; I was just doing anything I could get my hands on at that point,” said Welch.

After dropping out of high school at age 16, she moved in with a boyfriend, however, her drug habit became so bad he kicked her out of their apartment.

"I was pretty near rock bottom, 80 pounds, I was just going nowhere and I needed money to keep using,” said Welch.

She had nowhere to go, and was so desperate for money, she calls up a husband and wife who once drugged her at a party and sold her for sex…officially entering into the world of sex slavery and human trafficking.

"I was kept in a trunk and chained to closets and stuff like that,” said Welch.

Now she wants to break the chains: she built her business, and her new life, from nothing, and she wants to show others they can do it, too.

After leaving Las Vegas with her brother who picked her up from a trafficker’s home when she’d had enough of her current life, she sobered up, got a job, and met a boy online.

A soldier at the time, they end up getting married and moved to Killeen.

After six years of struggling with infertility, the Welchs adopted two boys.

To help support her young family, Welch decided to open up an online boutique in March of 2016.

“I literally started with like six pieces of clothes,” said Welch.

Two years later, in March of 2018, she opened up a storefront in China Spring, but she says the reason she continues to run the business has changed.

"The biggest reason has become women, giving women hope and giving them faith, and I’m really open about my story not so that people can look at me and say 'oh wow, Sthefanie is awesome and Sthefanie is great,’ and not to bring shame to my family because I know a lot of my family hates when I share, but I share my story so that people can look at me when they’re in a really bad situation and say 'that can be me, and I can do it,'" said Welch.

She says her business has become a ministry, and a platform for her to reach people in pain.

"I would say to a person that's using now or is thinking about using: regardless of what the decisions you're making now…you are loved, not only by God, but by people, there's people out there that care about you, and I know it’s not easy to just stop using, and I know that it takes time, but it’s possible,” said Welch.

“Take it from this girl that had needles in her arms, you can do this, build your life, you can restart - and start now, don't wait, there's such a beautiful life ahead of you.”

A life she says people need to make for themselves.

In honor of national small business week, her advice to others with a colorful past who may want to start their own: don’t let your criminal history hold you back.

“You don't have to think about ‘oh no one's going to hire me,’ build your own life, do your own thing, build your own dreams,” said Welch.

Welch’s store logo is inspired by that idea: a black daisy isn’t made in nature, it’s something she created.

“The color coming out of the daisy in my logo is me coming out of darkness, that’s the black daisy,” said Welch. “Daisies are considered weeds, but some can see it’s beauty.”

“Most daisies are pulled and thrown away, and some actually see its worth. That’s me.”