Alexis Muniz (left) and her mother, Grizel Muniz, opened Plato’s Closet in 2008 and followed with Style Encore in
2013. // Photo by Leslie Barbaro
Entrepreneurship started looking appealing to Grizel Muniz when her employer began downsizing. The first to go were longtime employees, and Grizel had 27 years under her belt. At that time, daughter Alexis was getting ready to graduate from Wesley College with a degree in business management. They decided to open a business together.
In 2008, they opened Plato’s Closet, a franchise that sells secondhand clothing for teens. “We knew we wanted to be in retail because we both love fashion,” says Grizel, who is famous among friends and family members for finding treasures among secondhand goods. Alexis has a discerning eye for designer brands.
The next year, after the business found its footing, Grizel joined the store full time. Plato’s Closet was such a hit that in 2013, she and Alexis opened Style Encore, which sells previously owned women’s clothing in good condition. Plato’s Closet moved to larger digs. “We were busting at the seams with inventory,” Alexis says. Both shops are in the Dover Commons shopping center.
Because Plato’s Closet sells at a higher volume than Style Encore, it does best with a hands-on approach. Alexis is the manager as well as the owner. “I really need to be in here on a daily basis,” she says. Grizel is often at Style Encore. Combined, they employ 30 full- and part-time workers. It’s a family affair in many respects. Grizel’s husband, Alex, handles the books, and their daughter, Becky, worked at Plato’s Closet while she was in high school.
The best thing about working with family is the trust factor. “I know I can always count on Alexis,” Grizel says. “I know that she has the best interest of the business at heart. I know she’s got my back.” Alexis agrees. “We can count on each other in greater ways than we would the average business partner.”
The drawback is that they don’t shut the door on the business when they lock up at night. “When we have issues at work, we take them home with us,” Alexis says. “When we’re having personal issues, we have to do everything we can to keep it from affecting our professional relationship.”
But having to cope with the other’s weaknesses is rarely an issue. “Luckily, her weaknesses are my strengths,” Grizel says, “and my weaknesses are her strengths.”