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Summer job inspired Carson-Weaver to open bridal shop, Elegant L

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Elegant L, 117 S. Harrison St., offers formal wear and accessories for men, women and children, as well as Merle Norman cosmetics.
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Lemon Lane Boutique, 114 S. Harrison St., offers casual clothing and accessories for women, men and children, as well as home decor.
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Christa Carson-Weaver, owner of Elegant L in Shelbyville, shows one of her favorite wedding dresses, complete with belt and veil.

by NICHOLE SCOTT - nscott@shelbynews.com

A part-time job led to full-time ownership for Christa Carson-Weaver.

As a college student, Carson-Weaver worked during summers for Liana Skinner, owner of the former Liana’s, a bridal shop at 111 S. Harrison St. in Shelbyville, and thought she’d eventually go to work for a sporting goods company after earning her bachelor’s degree.

“I went to Purdue to study fashion merchandising and retail management and thought I would work for Galyan’s or Finish Line. Galyan’s was based out of Indianapolis at the time,” she said. “I was working for Liana in the summers when one day it came over the radio that Dick’s Sporting Goods bought Galyan’s so Galyan’s wouldn’t be based out of Indianapolis anymore. I thought, ‘What am I gonna do?’ That was one of my two options having a fashion degree in central Indiana.”

Sometimes personal experience has a way of giving opportunities.

“I also worked at a bridal shop in Lafayette and was managing one of the bridal shops at the outlet mall and I told Liana if she ever wanted to sell to let me know. Well, it was not even a year later and she said she wanted to sell. I was 24. I said, ‘How am I going to buy a business?’”

Carson-Weaver got a loan from Shelby County Bank, as it was named at the time, bought Skinner’s business, and renamed it Elegant L, a nod to Skinner’s first name. She rented Skinner’s building from her for a couple of years before buying the corner building at 117 S. Harrison St., the current home of Elegant L. That was nine years ago.

“We grew pretty quick out of that (Skinner’s) small building,” Carson-Weaver said, noting the current building is about four times the size of the smaller location.

She said she learned a lot about running a successful business from Skinner.

“She taught me that you gotta roll with the punches. You have to be so flexible when running a business. You face all kinds of interesting situations and people. It just didn’t seem to bother her. You just have to not let things get to you too much,” Carson-Weaver said.

Most of Carson-Weaver’s business is from out-of-town, despite using social media as her only means of advertising outside Shelby County.

“I have people who travel, like I have Cincinnati people, Northside (Indianapolis) people. I did two Louisville brides last year. We are kind of a ‘destination’ for other people,” she said. “A lot of my brides who are not from here tell their friends and friends of friends. It’s word of mouth and it’s great for me.

“Most of my tux (rental) business is Shelby County people.”

After using a small section of Elegant L as a trial run of offering casual clothing, Carson-Weaver was able to, with a business partner, open Lemon Lane Boutique, across the street at 114 S. Harrison St., two years ago. Lemon Lane offers clothing and accessories for women, men and children as well as household décor. About six months ago, a second location of Lemon Lane Boutique was opened in Greenfield.

“My mom helps me at Elegant L and other friends and family help make things work,” she said.

Carson-Weaver believes giving back to the community is very important. She is involved with the Shelby County Fair Queen Pageant and often participates in events with Shelby Senior Services and the Grover Museum, as well as other local organizations.

Carson-Weaver is a graduate of Triton Central High School. She is married to Jeremy Weaver. The couple have two daughters, Lindy, who is 3 years old, and Ella, who is 6. They also have a family farm near Boggstown.

People have told her she’s busy.

“No, I’m crazy for doing all these things. A lot of what I do is very time-consuming but I try to do things that are not just for me or my family, but for the betterment of the community,” she said. “There are a lot of things that might be a waste of my time or money but I do them because it’s what I think needs to be done.”