Allison Bakrow is making a name for herself as the proprietor of two upscale fashion stores in downtown Quincy with a heart for helping others.
Bakrow describes herself as the owner, stylist, buyer and "retail therapist" of Ally's Boutique and Ally's Too -- two businesses that thrive because of Bakrow's expertise in the fashion industry.
After graduating from Western Illinois University with a business degree, Backrow studied at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York before she secured an internship with Chanel and later worked at a Chanel boutique in Boston.
Bakrow then owned and operated Ally & Co. at 515 Maine from 2005 to 2008 before she left to take a job in Michigan as regional sales manager for Cartise International. She returned to Quincy in 2014 and opened Ally's Boutique in the Maine Center at 515 Maine and then in 2016 opened Ally's Too at 509 Maine.
One thing that hasn't changed for Bakrow is her desire to help others. Over the years she has organized a series of one-of-a-kind fashion shows and other charity events that have raised thousands of dollars for a wide variety of charitable causes in the Quincy area.
In September, for example, she hosted the "Behind the Mask" fall fashion show that benefited the Adams County Suicide Prevention Coalition. Other shows in the past raised money for such causes as the YWCA, The District, Hospitality House, Sammy Fund and organizations that help people dealing with diabetes, breast cancer and ovarian cancer.
Name: Allison M. Bakrow
Family: I have built my life with the father of my children, Scott. We are parents to two wonderful children -- Andrew, 3, and Audrey, 2. We also share our home and life with my father, Bruce, AKA Papi (best grandpa ever).
Education: Graduated from Hamilton High School in 1997 and Western Illinois University in 2001, majoring in business. She also studied at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City in 2001.
How are you involved in your community?
I am very involved in my community. I own two local businesses in The District. I have been a part of many charitable organizations. Yearly, I host a fashion show that benefits local charities and philanthropic organizations, such as Adams County Suicide Prevention Coalition, YWCA, The District, diabetes, Hospitality House, breast cancer, Sammy Fund and ovarian cancer.
What is your job, what do you do and what do you like best about it? Owner/Stylist/Buyer/Retail Therapist of Ally's Boutique and Ally's Too. My favorite part of my job is making people happy and feel like their best self.
What is a typical workweek like?
It depends on what season we are entering. Currently we are preparing for our Fall Fashion Show, which benefits a new group called the Adams County Suicide Prevention Coalition. The show will feature 30-plus models and will raise money for this wonderful organization.
What was your first job, and what do you remember about it?
My first jobs were baby sitting and working at Hamilton Public Pool and Duck's Red Fox Grocery. I was 14 at the time, and I couldn't wait to have a job. I always like to keep busy and keep it moving. Anytime I can interact with people, I feel as though I am not at a job but a hobby.
How do you balance everything?
I struggle with balance. I always seem to have so much going on. But because of my support system, I am able to make it day to day. It truly is a group effort.
Which person has influenced you the most and why?
I cannot say that there is one single person that influences me more than others. Rather, it is a collection of all of the great people in my life.
Have you ever failed at something? (Care to give details? How did you recover?)
I used to believe I failed in my first marriage -- until I met the love of my life. He strengthens my soul and balances my hectic lifestyle. Failure is temporary, it is not a final destination. Recovery is a process which is important to go through. I learned at an early age to surround myself with loving and like-minded people. That is how you recover.
What does success mean to you?
Success is more than numbers on the bank statement (while that is good, too). Success comes for me in an unconventional way. I feel I have accomplished my goals when I empower those around me.
What was your proudest professional moment?
When I realized I was the youngest stylist at Chanel and that I was the top earning stylist on the east coast.
What is your favorite stress buster/leisure time diversion?
Golf cart rides with the family and a glass of red wine, preferably Cabernet.
What is the biggest need in your community?
Live Local. Shop Local. Eat Local. Giving Local. Invest in your community. Help send a little girl to dance class, not buy a CEO a third vacation house. As a community we have made so much progress, and I want to continue this effort.
What gives you reason for optimism in your community?
The camaraderie between local business owners, workers and customers.
If you could go back in time and give advice to yourself when you were in high school, what would it be?
"Hey Ally, live in the moment and do not grow up too fast. But once you are there you will have a blast."
If you could add a few more hours to the day, how would you spend them?
In a perfect world I would love more sleep. I feel like I can never catch up. But, I wouldn't trade any of my special memories for another hour or two of sleep because my reality is perfect for me.
Do you live by any mantra or saying?
Enjoy every day as it comes, believe there is a plan and everything happens for a reason.