A Fireside Chat with Anne Marie Johnson, Founder of Bitter Grace Boutique

Happy August, everyone!

When it comes to feeling empowered and being motivated to become the best version of yourself, what comes to mind? To Anne Marie, founder of one of our newest clients, Bitter Grace Boutique, fashion has the ability to make her feel empowered. She therefore created the online boutique less than a year ago with aims to unite women and help them feel accepted through the medium of fashion. Bitter Grace Boutique’s brand story and mission goes beyond the curation of comfortable, chic pieces — it focuses on making women feel like they can #DoMoreBeMore. 

We sat down with Anne Marie to talk about her journey on establishing Bitter Grace and how she plans on supporting other women.

Bitter Grace means “Anne Marie” or “grace from bitterness” in Hebrew; Photo by @thedistricttraveler.

Bitter Grace means “Anne Marie” or “grace from bitterness” in Hebrew; Photo by @thedistricttraveler.

Tell us about the story behind Bitter Grace Boutique. Why did you decide to create the brand and what inspired you to work with Doorways on your mission to empower women through fashion?

As an immigrant growing up in my adolescent years, I was incredibly shy and timid and fashion allowed me to freely express myself. I immigrated to the U.S. at the age of 11 and was raised in a critical and volatile household. I was discouraged to speak my mind, but I was free to make my own fashion choices. I felt the most confident when I put on something that made me feel beautiful, loved, and accepted.  

Bitter Grace was a dream of mine for a long time — a place in which I could unite all women along with a common purpose to make a difference. Bitter Grace means “Anne Marie” or “grace from bitterness” in Hebrew. When I learned this, I thought it was a perfect representation of my personal journey to finding myself, finding my self-worth and identity — the idea that after bitter storms, there always comes grace.

I launched Bitter Grace in December 2018 with a vision of building a brand that is beyond the clothes; a brand centered around on a community-oriented mission that aims to empower others, inspire others to follow their passions and achieve their potential – a movement we call #DoMoreBeMore. Our ambassador program comprises of women who embody our core mission and values on a daily basis and is the platform for which we encourage them to use their social influence to make a positive impact in the lives of others and in their communities. Earlier this year, I was inspired to work and partner with Doorways, an organization in the Washington, DC area that creates pathways for women and families out of domestic violence, because of my personal experience and connection with domestic violence. We donate 10% from each sale to their mission which allows us to help women and their families regain their confidence and rebuild their lives.

Photo: Courtesy of Bitter Grace Boutique.

Photo: Courtesy of Bitter Grace Boutique.

We are very excited for the #BitterGrace self-care retreat that is taking place on Aug. 31. Why did you decide to host it and what do you hope the women who attend get out of it? How does the retreat fit in with your brand story and journey?

Anne Marie (left), and panelists invited to speak at Bitter Grace’s first annual #selfcare retreat on Aug. 31. Photo by @thedistricttraveler.

Anne Marie (left), and panelists invited to speak at Bitter Grace’s first annual #selfcare retreat on Aug. 31. Photo by @thedistricttraveler.

I feel the most inspired when I’m around like-minded individuals and empowered when I’ve added value to others. I had no mentors growing up nor did I have a parent in my life that I idolized but I’m fortunate to have a few people in my life who believed in me and encouraged me to find the courage to pursue a long-time passion. 

My goal for the first annual Bitter Grace Self-Care Retreat is to be able to extend that very thing to others — to empower the women and their families to take action to transform an area in their life, to be inspired to pursue their passions, and to be encouraged to love themselves a bit more every day.  This retreat will be a yearly event where we collaborate with influential women and other businesses that empower others to #DoMoreBeMore. Additionally, this retreat is also geared toward the women of Doorways, some will be attendees, where proceeds go toward their mission. 

What does #DoMoreBeMore mean to you and how do you make sure you stick to that mantra every day?

#DoMoreBeMore is fulfilling the commitments you’ve made to yourself to achieve a goal and living by the core principles of confidence, authenticity, strength, beauty, and gracefulness on a daily basis. As a new brand it’s important that the people who are part of it, including myself, embody this philosophy every day.

Although life can sometimes derail you from your goal, it’s important to always be self-aware so you can get back on track. 

I work to create new habits and surround myself with people that are on the same path of the life I'm trying to create.

What are some of the goals you have planned for the future of Bitter Grace?

It’s important that we strengthen our relationship with our partners, like Doorways, whose mission aligns with ours that aims to help women and their families live empowered lives. My personal goal is to be able to extend our mission beyond DC and create new opportunities for women and families around the world.  

Additionally, I plan to open a brick and mortar in Washington, DC next year — a dedicated space where we can create an experience that inspire and help people to imagine more for themselves. I‘m learning more about myself each day as I continue to evolve and grow in this new journey and I couldn’t be more thrilled about the future of Bitter Grace!

Follow Bitter Grace Boutique on Instagram for all updates!


The Once Upon Team