Written by: 
Monique Bird

Emily Allegretto ('16) Business alumna Emily Allegretto ('16) was 15 years old when she found her passion helping others.

She was volunteering with Keeps Boutique, then a Dallas-area nonprofit that gave teenage girls in foster care free clothes during a mini-shopping spree. Inspired, Allegretto founded an independent version of the faith-based venue in her hometown of Lindale the next year.

"Everyone needs clothes," she says, "but we also use the experience to build a relationship."

At Keeps, Allegretto solicits designers and merchandisers for high-end donated clothing and accessories, and girls receive appointments with personal stylists who help them shop. And the girls are welcome to come back as many times as they wish.

"Some of our girls are scared to grow up," she says, "because they age out of the foster care system at 18, and many will be on their own."

From the beginning, Allegretto wanted to make a career out of Keeps, so she pursued a marketing degree at UNT. Her mom and sister kept the shop afloat, running the small venue and its events in her absence. Allegretto returned each summer with fresh ideas from the College of Business Professional Leadership Program.

One talk on socially conscious consumerism from Andre Angel -- the CEO of TangoTab, a smartphone app helping consumers fight hunger -- was especially inspiring.

"It's a business with a mission -- that's exactly what I wanted to do with Keeps," says Allegretto, who in the future wants to expand Keeps to include a clothing line for retail outlets that would generate sales for the boutique.

Since graduating, she works as a marketing coordinator for Advanced Business Graphics in Coppell. She continues her work as the director of Keeps along with her full-time job, with hopes to grow the business.

"I want girls to know that you don't have to wait until you're older to live the life you want," Allegretto says, "and to pursue your dreams."