The name Piper + Arrows Boutique, winner of the 2022 Best of Springfield poll of Illinois Times readers for online boutique, was inspired by the 127th chapter of Psalms.
In that book of the Bible, children are described as "arrows in the hands of a warrior" and a blessing to parents "whose quiver is full of them."
Jocelyn Piper, 38, said she started Piper + Arrows five years ago to help her and her husband, Troy Piper, 54, afford additional costs associated with adopting and caring for children from Hong Kong who have physical and developmental disabilities.
That cause has helped the women's clothing business grow and sustain its base of customers, she said.
"People like our story and the convenience of shopping online," said Piper, a Chatham resident.
She works a full-time job out of her home as a corporate negotiator for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois, and her husband is a physical education teacher at Rochester High School and Junior High.
They have a blended family with three biological children from previous marriages and have also adopted three children. Their first adopted child, Nolan, died from medical complications of his seizure disorder in May 2021 at age 9. Their second adopted son, Francis, joined the family in 2018 and is 14. Proceedings for the adoption of their third child, daughter Oaklynn, 7, were completed in August.
Jocelyn Piper said starting the online boutique seemed to be a "creative way" to fund the adoption of their second child. "It has been a way of helping keep us afloat," she said.
"I've always loved fashion and wanted to go to school to become a fashion designer," she said. That dream fell by the wayside, however, when Piper attended college on a softball scholarship at a school where fashion design wasn't offered as a degree.
In her business, which primarily operates on Facebook and Instagram, she said she works with various wholesalers and an outside shipper.
"It's quality items where I've vetted the vendors," she said.
Piper operated a brick-and-mortar store in downtown Springfield from June 2021 to June 2022, but had to close down after she was hospitalized this summer because of complications from Type 1 diabetes.
She said the complications resulted from the loss of her longtime Springfield Clinic doctor when the clinic became an out-of-network provider to Blue Cross members in 2021.
Piper said she encountered delays in getting in to see a new in-network provider from SIU Medicine and wasn't able to replace her insulin pump on a timely basis.
She said she has since been able to establish medical care at SIU and get a new insulin pump, but the ordeal took a toll on her health. She abandoned the downtown store and restarted the online business, which had been on hold.
Piper said she and her husband, who attend Hope Church in Springfield, don't plan to adopt more children. But she said they are happy that they have been able to provide a loving home for children with special needs and show how these children can be blessings to their adoptive parents and others they touch.
"There are so many children around the world who are discarded because they have special needs," she said. "They are the brightest part of our day."