Being the Change


  • Author Julie Grillone
  • Published March 21, 2022
  • Word count 960

In a day and time that division and negativity seem to be the norm, two daring women are standing strong and showing everyone that life is too short to be ornery.

“We are committed to making everyone’s day better, whether they come to buy from us or not.”, says Julie, part-owner of Christopher’s; a charming women’s clothing boutique in Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

Crystal and Julie have learned a thing or two about the importance of making every day the best it can be. For them, that means giving everyone they encounter a smile and doing whatever they can to lift spirits and bring the joy. “It matters so much, you may be the only kindness in that person’s day or even week! Every time you smile, every time you show kindness, you raise that individual’s immune system.”, states Julie.

Most everyone assumes that these two funny, life-loving ladies are sisters. “We’re wives-in-law”, says Crystal, “At least that’s how we term it.” she laughs. Crystal is now married happily for twenty-two years to Ted, Julie’s first husband. “I broke him in for her”, Julie says smiling.

Julie and Crystal explain that they came to be inseparable during their daughter’s illness. Crystal is the stepmom to Ilyssa, Julie and Ted’s daughter. Ilyssa became ill after her 16th birthday and passed away just before turning eighteen. Ilyssa was full of life & beauty, always gentle and kind. “Even during her worst, most pain-filled moments she was more concerned for those taking care of her,” says Crystal. Ilyssa had a glioblastoma, an incredibly aggressive form of brain cancer.

“Crystal and Ted were my rock, not to mention my son Dj. They all rallied and supported us, we supported each other.” Julie tells us that when Ilyssa was going through her second surgery she suffered a stroke that paralyzed her body’s entire left side. Crystal left her job of almost twenty years to stay in the hospital room with Julie, 24/7 for an entire month, helping to care for Ilyssa. When Ilyssa was released from Children’s Hospital, Crystal moved in to assist Julie for another seven months. “I owe Crystal a house on the Mediterranean!” says Julie.

Needless to say, they became the closest of friends through this ordeal. Julie explains that she and Crystal are very like-minded “We look for the best, the humor and the blessings in each moment, and then we stay present in that. This is how we gave the very best of ourselves to Ilyssa, and each other: it kept us sane. More importantly, we were generally in a good & solid state of mind while caring for Ilyssa, which is what she needed most from us.”

Crystal and Julie have since embarked on hilarious adventures, traveling and exploring; hiking, kayaking, and getting into mischief on occasion. They spend a great amount of time laughing together and being silly. Anyone lucky enough to encounter the two can’t help but be swept up into their infectious sense of fun.

They also decided to buy an existing local legend, Christopher’s. A women’s clothing boutique that is at once trendy, elegant, creative but most of all fun! Just walking in the shop you are greeted with a smile. “It’s so vital to share kindness, happiness! It truly doesn’t matter if they choose to purchase from us or not, we want them to leave in a better state of mind than when they walked in. It greatly matters to us that we are making a difference. The same goes for our online store, if they leave our site and feel better then we’ve done our job! I don’t mean to imply that we shouldn’t make a living, more simply I firmly believe when your priorities are in place, the rest takes care of itself,” affirms Julie.

Julie and Crystal recently launched their website, This beautiful site makes you feel good just by looking at it. It was designed to bring the spirit of these two women, their message to the world. The very same attention to detail and care that goes into the physical store is reflected online as well. Crystal and Julie handpick every item, inspecting for quality & style, but also extremely important to them is the comfort of the piece. “We search out the softest of the soft, extraordinary coziness is what we want! Everyone just loves touching everything in our store,” says Crystal. “Our online store is no different. We like people to feel wrapped in cozy hugs.”

Another amazing thing these two are creating is a foundation called “Ilyssa’s Heart”. A portion of the sales from the brick and mortar & the online store will go to grow “Ilyssa’s Heart”, a foundation to serve the families of seriously ill children.

“I’ve wanted to do this for so long,” states Julie. “During our very first hospital stay with Ilyssa, which was about five days long, I was sixty-five miles from home with nothing but my purse. Crystal brought me a care package that held a change of clothes, some Olay face wipes, deodorant, and other items that made me feel human again. It was the greatest gift anyone has ever given me!!” This was the beginning of the brainchild of “Ilyssa’s Heart”.

“This is in honor of our beautiful daughter. We are on this earth to be of service, whether that means making someone laugh or doing some kindness. Kindness first is what we live by.” This is the shared message of both Crystal and Julie.

Go visit and enjoy their shop Christopher’s for yourself, just see if you can find some uplifting message that improves your day!

So many people have told us that we need to get our story out there. This is my first attempt to do just that. I am a small business owner in a beautiful little town, trying to make a difference in this great big world.

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