Oversized pampas grass pieces and dried beige florals are the centerpiece of the back white wall as you enter into Elysian Boutique Co. On another wall, a longhorn skull looms, a symbol of protection from the natural elements.
Pale yellow-brown wood paneling placed in a pattern covers the checkout desk as well as the multiple arches throughout the western store. Cow hides add a cozy feel to the store’s floors and chic western and boho clothing pieces as well as accessories fill in the empty spaces of Elysian Boutique Co.
Elysian is an adjective for “beautiful or creative; divinely inspired; peaceful and perfect.” On Mar. 5, 2020, Elysian Boutique Co. made its debut through social media and opened an online store less than two months later.
Twenty-year-old owner and manager, Brooklyn Muir, came up with the idea of opening the boutique during a distressed time: she became jobless when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, her birth father passed away, her boyfriend was diagnosed with brain cancer, and she adopted her younger brother.
After being adopted at only six months old, Muir was able to be raised into the woman she always dreamed of being. She explains that her bravery and drive to prove the odds wrong fuels her to demonstrate she is capable of doing anything. Her determination has allowed her to be successful and prosperous in owning a western boutique.
Although her success was 20 years in the making it did not start out as easily as people may think. Muir was born to a woman with a drug addiction and spent weeks in the hospital due to withdrawals.
“I was adopted at six months old by my wonderful adoptive parents. They saved my life and have taught me some very valuable life lessons that gave me the tools and knowledge that I have today that I apply to my businesses,” said Muir.
Muir explains her childhood – and her parents’ guidance – made her who she is today. The knowledge and independence she gained stemmed from working in her family’s restaurant and ice cream shop in her early teens during the summer. This is where she learned the value of money and what necessities were.
“I was buying myself toothpaste and toilet paper by 15. I didn’t need to, but I wanted to,” said Muir.
Knowing her worth and wanting her own independence, Muir soon opened her very first business at the age of 17. Muir Imagery soon became her main source of income as she captured love through elopement photography around Alberta.
In 2019, Muir graduated high school and was ready to pursue her photography dreams, but little did she know her life was about to do a complete 180. Five days before her ceremony, the birth mother of her baby stepbrother, Andre, passed away.
That October, Muir received a phone call from one of her relatives explaining her birth father was in the ICU. Her birth father had gone into septic shock due to drug use. Soon after finding out, she was the one who had to make the decision to pull him off life support. Fourteen hours later, Muir learned doctors had found a tumor in her boyfriend’s head.
“It was a crazy 14 hours, but also within those 14 hours, my siblings all became orphans. I had to figure out what I needed to do. I found placement for my siblings, even though I didn’t really know them, and it was really hard because I also needed to be there for my boyfriend,” said Muir.
Muir chose to stick by her boyfriend, Jaxson, while he fought brain cancer, and they flew down to Florida where he would start to receive treatment. But as the world knows, the COVID-19 pandemic stopped the globe from spinning and put many out of business, including Muir.
“At the end of the day, when you move to a different country and you stop working, that money starts to drain. I was kind of in this predicament. One, I didn’t want to work because my boyfriend was compromised and two, you couldn’t work because the whole world shut down to COVID. I had to figure out a way to make money,” said Muir.
The moment when she decided she was going to open an online boutique, she was on the way to the Tom Baker Cancer Centre for Jaxson’s stem cell retrieval day. Muir had been out of work for months and had always dreamed of owning her own boutique.
“I was at a point of “what did I have to lose?” I called a good friend and asked her some questions, and I bought my business license that same day, started buying stock, and created a website. I hit rock bottom. I was severely depressed and had crippling anxiety. Opening this boutique helped me get out of that place,” said Muir.
On May 1, her second business launched online. She says it was the best thing to pursue during her boyfriend’s cancer journey as it helped get her through the toughest times because she had something to take her mind off of everything else.
Two months later, Muir ended up taking her two and half year-old stepbrother, Andre, in as he had nowhere else to go and she did not want him to be passed around in the foster care system. She was not sure at the time what she was supposed to do but knew what it felt like having someone take her in and be such amazing role models.
“My life was saved when my family adopted me, and I knew that it was my duty to take in Andre, as I understood how important it was to get him out of the foster system he was in,” said Muir.
She explains that Andre has become a part of her family, and, alongside Jaxson, they are Muir’s biggest supporters of her entrepreneurship.
In May of 2021 Muir opened a storefront for her boutique in the quaint town of High River, Alta. Elysian now sells brands like Alphabull, Glitzy Coolers, and more mixed western and boho style clothing.
Muir felt there was a need for a modernized western fashion boutique in Alberta as most are solely online or in the United States where duties and shipping will be added on top of the price of an order. She says her store took off due to the high demand of girls and women who want to dress up when they go to rodeos, as well as the western fashion industry becoming trendy.
Muir explains that she is no cowgirl herself but has been pulled back into the western way of life.
“I was always just a part of that western lifestyle. I never did rodeo or anything like that, but I was always helping out at my grandparents’ farm and now I’m helping my boyfriend and his family out during calving,” said Muir.
Over and above that, Muir has always enjoyed western fashion as she grew up around it. She believes not only herself, but many girls like to incorporate chic pieces into their everyday lifestyle and not always specifically for rodeos.