Amore and fede means love and faith in Italian. in Excelsior is a Christian-based business that sells clothes and accessories to women. Originally launched four years ago by three women wanting to start a Christian clothing line, Debbie Slusar, one of the original three, has owned the store on her own since April. She described the fashion as “fashion forward and hip.”
Slusar grew up on a farm in Staples, MN. She has 15 other brothers and sisters, including an identical twin, Dorene.
“I love being a twin. It’s fun," Slusar said with a laugh. "We get a kick out of it more now than when we were younger. We like to confuse people.”
In the midst of the fun, Slusar loves her customers, whom she describes as the “heart and soul” of her business.
“I want them to feel like they’re always welcome,” Slusar said. “I also want them to have fun shopping and find some really cute stuff.”
She enjoys giving her customers one-on-one time and providing affordable clothing that help women feel good about themselves. A feature item in her store is Miss Me jeans.
“Miss Me’s are meant to fit,” Slusar said, “They thin you through the thighs and make you have a butt.”
Slusar says she enjoys challenging women to make the move from “mom jeans and boxy t-shirts” to styles that reflect the trends of today. When women like the new style, she feels that she has impacted their lives.
But Slusar does not simply focus on the outward appearance—her mission is also to give back to the community and encourage others. She has a passion for giving, she said.
Funds from a line of jewelry made by one of her friends, goes to Mission of Hope, a nonprofit organization that helps people in El Salvador who are in need.
She also supports two children through World Vision and also regularly donates to the same organization.
For Slusar, giving back is not only about giving money to big organizations or travelling to other countries. She shared the story of a woman who came to her store and told her about a girl who was dealing with some health problems. Slusar listened and sought to be an encouragement by giving the woman a free necklace for the girl.
“People are hurting. The economy is hard,” Slusar said. “People don’t have a lot of money in their bank accounts sometimes. They want something new, but they’re on the fence. So then I say, ‘I’ll take off a discount.’ That’s giving back, too.”
In addition to willingly listen to her customers’ stories, Slusar also has a prayer box in the store where customers can leave their prayer requests.
Helping in the store is Slusar’s husband, Daran, and daughter, Brittany. She said that her husband has a good eye for fashion and women sometimes like having a male’s opinion on their outfits.
Yet, at the end of the day, Slusar said “it’s not just about the sales; it’s about the people you meet."