LAKELAND, Fla. — After being nearly beat to death by her oldest son’s father, the owner of Hidden Gem Consignment Boutique is giving back by helping other domestic violence survivors.
Owner Jessica Mullins said when she was in the abusive relationship, she was left without money and clothes and had a hard time finding help.
“I sat in the car and I’m like what am I going to do. I had a shirt with holes in it where he’d cut them up. It was very…I don’t even know the words to explain it,” recalled Jessica Mullins.
After that incident, she left the relationship. But it didn’t stop her abuser from attempting to kill her while she was waiting to drop off their son with his mother.
“I went to unbuckle my son and I felt his hands come around my neck and he just squeezed and he squeezed,” Mullins said. “My nose was disconnected from my skull. My nasal cavities were crushed so that required even more surgeries. I had 15 teeth that were knocked out.”
She described it as a puzzle putting her face back together. Six years later, she had her damaged eye removed and she got a prosthetic. It was then she decided to start anew and put the past behind her.
She opened the store in the summer of 2018 to combine her passion of thrift shopping and helping victims of domestic violence.
The store, located at the intersection of N Galloway Road and Knight Station Road, is open to all customers, but survivors of domestic violence get to shop for free.
“Anybody that works with an organization, they can come in with a referral and get anything they need,” Mullins said.
The store has shoes, coats, pants, tops and dresses, as well as home décor.
Two weeks ago, her mother Penny Conway, moved her Bella Babies consignment shop into the store. It was formerly located in Pinellas Park.
It offers baby and children’s clothes as well as maternity clothes.
“There is such a need. People don’t realize that when a man or woman is affected by domestic violence, that the children are also affected. This way we’re able to cover the whole entire family,” said Penny Conway.
“It makes me feel so good that I can see where I’m standing and kind of paying it forward to those that need it and I feel like God just put me here to do this and give me my second chance,” Mullins said.
The store is open every day but Sundays.