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Ms. Elle's tailors fashion, accessories, image to clients

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Lorna Moore-Davidson, owner and founder of Ms. Elle’s Boutique in Highland, is making the world more fashionable one look at a time.

Her boutique stocks unique clothing and accessories from local designers and offers custom design services to her clients.

“Ninety percent of the boutique is local designers from the Northwest Indiana and Chicagoland area,” Moore-Davidson says. “It’s a beautiful little treasure hunt.”

Moore-Davidson graduated from Indiana University Bloomington with a degree in Business Fashion Merchandising and worked in specialty boutiques for several years but wanted to take her career to the next level, she says.

“I had a desire to run my own business, my own boutique. I had opportunities to see some amazing boutiques and shops working in Chicago on Michigan Avenue,” Moore-Davidson says. “At the time, I was going through a divorce, and my mom had had a heart attack, so I thought, I’m going to go back home and invest in a business.”

Since the boutique opened in 2008, she has featured almost 40 designers from the Region and Chicago area, with a few from farther afield in the Midwest.

Kelly Boyd, a jewelry designer who works with semiprecious stones, has been a part of Ms. Elle’s for 10 years. Her creations include necklaces, bracelets, earrings, shoe clips and cuff links for women.

“I came in I think six months after she opened,” Boyd said. “We’ve always worked well together, and we all have one goal in mind and that is to please the customer.

“She will sell the artists’ stuff as if she’s made it on her own. A lot of store owners don’t do that. She doesn’t even know she does it but she does.”

Moore-Davidson says one of her main goals is to give clients a personalized experience when they are shopping for something special.

“We’ve been doing this, perfecting it and making ladies happy for 11 years,” Moore-Davidson said. “You can be any size and shop here; the designers will bring one or two of a size, if it’s not in your size, we take your measurement and custom make it for you.”

One of the newest designers at the boutique, Becky Osborne creates custom designed and hand-painted pieces with her design partner, Lee Bauman. Osborne said Miss Elle’s Boutique is a unique opportunity for women of any size.

“That’s something wonderful about her place, that she’s selling stuff to larger size gals who can’t find beautiful one-of-a-kind things anyplace else,” Osborne says. “It’s cool that she’s inclusive.”

When she was developing the concept for the boutique, Moore-Davidson had a special inspiration.

“I named the boutique after my mother, whose name is Eleanor,” she said. “She’s 86 years old now, she’s this little fashion queen with her hat and pocketbook and gloves when she goes to church.

“Sophisticated, stylish and spiritual describes my mother to a tee. Everything we bring into the boutique I try to make sure it fits one of those three categories,” she added.

“She instantly makes you feel comfortable,” Osborne said of Moore-Davidson. “She’s a very spiritual person and I’m a person of faith. When I walked into the boutique, she said she instantly felt my spirit.”

“She’s never met a stranger,” Osborne added.

Moore-Davidson gives back to the community with her annual Dare to be Different scholarship fashion show, which she launched six years ago.

“There was something going on in the community where some young men were shot with gang activity and my soul was really grieved,” Moore-Davidson said. “And I was thinking, what can I do? I’m in fashion, that has nothing to do with what’s going on. So I thought maybe I could help with their education, inspire them to do something with their lives.

“It seemed like the young people were going a certain way, which wasn’t the best way, so I thought, I’m going to dare them to be different and not follow the norm,” Moore-Davidson added.

The Dare to be Different fashion show has provided $500 scholarships to students from high schools throughout Lake County.

“I didn’t want to make it too hard, sometimes the average students want to make a difference,” Moore-Davidson said. “The requirements are a 2.5 GPA, three references, college acceptance, and an essay on what they do to be different in today’s world.”

According to Moore-Davidson, more than 200 people attended the event this year at the Highland Community Center. It's held on the last Friday in July.

Moore-Davidson plans to soon expand into ecommerce at


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