WINTER PARK, Fla. (FNN NEWS) – If you’ve ever been on Park Avenue in beautiful downtown Winter Park, Florida, you’ve probably seen Bebe’s & Liz’s, two distinctive retail stores–one specializing in affordable high end women’s designer fashions and directly next door a store tailored to parents that desire the most cutting edge clothing for young people.
What you probably don’t know, however, is proprietor Liz Sheppard has been in business on Park Avenue for some 38 years–that’s right, 38 years in specialty retail. Though most small businesses fail after 1-5 years, Liz has withstood ups and downs with the economy and pretty much everything in between. Better yet, she doesn’t just own it, she works in the business, dressing everyone from beauty queens to children. I caught up with Liz before she headed to New York Fashion Week. Her story is inspirational and impressive.
Sheppard has many longtime friends that admire her success and loyalty to our community, including Jacqueline Siegel (above), wife of timeshare mogul David Siegel and most notably known as “The Queen of Versailles.” A longtime customer of both stores, Jacqueline Siegel recently shared, “I am a huge fan of women who mean business and Liz Sheppard is one of those women. I first met Liz while visiting her store with amazing kids fashions. For years we dressed our children with amazing one-of-a-kind clothes from Liz’s store.” Siegel added, “From there I worked with Liz on my own personal fashion choices, eventually having her work with our Mrs. Florida America and Beautiful People Productions with designer evening and cocktail wear. Congratulations on 38 years in business, Liz. You’re a gem in our community.”
It wasn’t difficult to identify satisfied customers and friends of Liz’s. “I had the pleasure of meeting Ms. Liz when I first moved to the area years ago. I stopped in her shop to find an outfit and walked out with a friend as well,” said Sharie Eldrige Shy. “It’s often said we can attract what we need if only we’re available. In my experience with Liz, that is so true. It was a season of loss for me and I needed hugs and she gladly gave them.
Shy continued, “Her store is as much about heart as it is fashion. That’s part of what makes her so extraordinary and so successful for decades. Liz handpicks her clothes and each item is a accessory to a life memory. She’s the epitome of class and beautiful strength. So very happy to call her my dear friend. She truly is MRS. WINTER PARK FLORIDA!”
A scan of Liz’s social media photos often finds her with a huge St. Bernard owned by another admirer, Brett Schulman (above). “Liz Sheppard is one of the most incredible hard working women I have ever met. She is so loving and would literally give you the shirt off her back. I just can’t say enough nice things about her.”
In speaking with other notable figures in Winter Park, the consensus is that Liz truly is an icon in the community. Other women in business look up to her for inspiration and guidance.
Shirley Stamper, a local legend and small business owner herself, had this to say, “Liz is a VERY hard working woman and does great things to raise the brand of Winter Park. I know, at times, she wishes she had more support from the City and Chamber proper…but I love her. Her stamina and relentless pursuit of providing her customers excellent service is bar none. She’s a great role model for other women looking to create a business and make it work.”
Written Statement by Burma Posey, Miss Georgia 1968 and Pageant Judge
“Liz Sheppard is truly a remarkable woman. She has been an asset to the City of Winter Park and Central Florida for almost 40 years. Her shop on Park Avenue is a treat that families look forward to visiting every time we go shopping on that magical street. Her windows are always precious displays of children’s beautiful clothing and now there are unusual and gorgeous ladies’ clothing and accessories as well. Her extraordinary glamorous fashion shows are events that everyone looks forward to in Central Florida!
“But the most wonderful part about Liz is her heart. She truly cares about her customers and all people. She is constantly doing things to help them not only be beautiful, but to be successful and happy as well. She constantly opens her gorgeous home to host special events for individuals and organizations. I was so touched to be the Guest of Honor at one of her special events and Liz managed to make me feel like one of the most special people in the entire world. She does that for everyone!
“Liz has a great faith in God. She has had many honors in her lifetime. But she has had tragedy as well. She lost both children and the most difficult thing a person can experience on this Earth [is] the loss of a child. But Liz has taken both the good and the sad and turned everything into ways to serve others. She genuinely wants to help people be the best they can be and I’m simply grateful that she chose Winter Park to be her home.”
– Burma Posey, Miss Georgia 1968
Another Winter Park legend, Jim Veigle, had this to say, “Liz has been the Heart of Winter Park for over 38 years. Her love for this City has been her life as long as I can remember. I have always had fond memories of her and her awesome stores. Liz gives kindness to all. Love Liz and her family.”
If you think about her history…38 years in business, in the beginning it was a much different time. Women were literally coming out of their homes and starting to create businesses that transcended traditional roles and responsibilities. Congratulations Liz Sheppard on 38 years. Your class, business acumen and love of the community is appreciated and noticed by all.
Randy Ross is a political contributor Florida National News. | firstname.lastname@example.org