Southern Bliss, located in Historic Jackson Square, is the Oak Ridge Chamber of Commerce’s Small Business of the Month for August. The award is sponsored by Enrichment Federal Credit Union.
Mother-daughter team Denice Parten and Meghan O’Neal are the co-owners and driving forces behind Southern Bliss Boutique. Denice credited divine inspiration for the decision to start the business in 2016, according to a Chamber news release. She was teaching at Linden Elementary School in the fall of 2015 when she felt led to retire — it wasn’t something she planned to do yet, instead, it was something she felt God was leading her to do. But she wasn’t sure what was next for her.
About that same time, the estate of her late father was being settled. Denice was at the bank with a check in her hand when she said to the banker, “I’m going to start a business!” He asked, “What business?” Denice recalled, “I said, ‘I don’t know, but I’m pretty sure I’m going to open up a boutique.’ I immediately called my daughter Meghan and asked, ‘Do you want to go into business with me?’ She didn’t even ask what it was — just said, ‘Sure!’”
As soon as Meghan got to the bank, they were ready to sign the papers, but there was the small issue of what the business would be called. After some group text exchanges with the entire family, they settled on Southern Bliss. The business opened in January 2016 in its Jackson Square location and in August 2018, the pair opened another location in Lenoir City.
When the storefront had to temporarily close due to the pandemic, Meghan launched a website in a week, allowing customers to order online and pick up items curbside or have them shipped. They started using Facebook and Instagram Live on Tuesdays and Thursdays to show customers what was new at the store. The business has a Facebook group called “Bliss Tribe,” which offers additional deals to fans.
It’s important to Denice and Meghan for Southern Bliss to offer merchandise from what they call “give-back” companies — vendors that donate some of their proceeds to good causes. Those companies include: Duke Cannon, Bridgewater Candles, Save the Girls, Good Works, and Teleties.
On working together, Denice said, “I told Meghan when we were at Market that I’d do this with nobody else but her and Meghan said, ‘You’d better not!’”
Meghan quipped, “She couldn’t do this with anybody else but me — because I’m just too organized. I’m on it!”
Denice replied, “Me too!” Then with a sideways glance at her daughter said, “Don’t walk into that other room!”
To nominate a business, visit Small Business of the Month under the Members tab on the Chamber’s website: www.oakridgechamber.org. Businesses with 50 or fewer employees, are a current member of the Oak Ridge Chamber of Commerce in good standing and show active involvement in the community and/or the Chamber are eligible for the award.