Photos by Jenna Bagcal/QNS
Margaret Ioannou, owner of Karma Boutique

After 16 years of making her customers feel good through “retail therapy,” Margaret Ioannou of Karma Boutique in Bayside is shutting down by the end of the month.

Plastered on the store’s windows at 38-27 Bell Blvd. is a 50 percent off sale sign and a personal letter from Ioannou informing customers of her bittersweet decision.

“I have had many successful years and I am forever grateful. However, my life has shifted in the last year and I have an understanding of my life purpose and mission here,” wrote Ioannou.

Her last day in business is Dec. 31 in order to start 2019 “fresh and new.”

The store owner told QNS that she underwent a “personal transformation” over the past year stemming from hardships in her own life.

“I just realized that what I was doing my whole life — coaching people and making them feel well while they were shopping in the store as well — I just realized that’s the path I want to put 100 percent focus on, because I believe that the world needs a little more healing than they do clothing,” Ioannou said.

Ioannou has been working in the retail clothing business since the age of 12 when she started at her mother’s lingerie store in Astoria. The Bayside High School alumna began a career in advertising but realized her dream was to open her own retail store.

So at 22, she pooled the money from her savings to open the Bayside shop, which was then a lingerie store known as Azure. She eventually began selling clothing items and became a “one-stop shop” for women’s apparel.

For the past year, the Long Island resident said she has been practicing as a life coach as well as performing Reiki, a form of Japanese energy healing. Ioannou said that these are things that she wants to pursue during the “next chapter” of her life in her quest to make people feel good about themselves.

“Clothing helps, but clothing helps the outside of you and I just want to focus on healing people from the inside out and making them feel good. I was doing that for many years and now I understand my purpose and I just wanna fully focus on that,” she said.

Ioannou said that the reactions from customers were mixed when they found out she was closing.

“A lot of people came in and started crying. A lot of people expressed what I’ve done for them their whole life. It was very touching,” she said. “It’s amazing to see how many people’s lives I’ve touched within the last 16 years. I’m grateful that I was part of this community and people were part of my own journey in life.”

She added, “It was never just about selling clothes for me; it was a little bit more personal. It was more than providing just a service to them. My customers, a lot of them became my personal friends; I met some of my [best] friends from this store.”

The single mother of three daughters shared that it’s been tough raising her children while working long hours at the shop but her new career path will allow her to spend more time with them.

“My girls are happy,” she said. “They’re a little sad about the store because they were raised here, so they’re a little sad to let the store go. But they are aware and they do understand that mommy’s gonna be more available to them.”

When Karma closes, Ioannou hopes to continue being a life coach and welcomes all of her customers to her “new journey in life.” Eventually, she wants to set up another business where people can come to her for their needs including healing and motivational speaking for people of all ages.

To learn more about what’s next for Ioannou, visit her Instagram @loveandlight_810. Those interested can also call her 718-496-8536 or email mioannou1016@gmail.com.

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