By Laurie Gordon Elissa Marcus, of Sparta, had a corporate job and worked a lot, but then in 2013, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her doctor told her she'd have to take a leave of absence and while she was undergoing treatment, she discovered yoga as a way to get some exercise and ease her mind. Little did she know that yoga, and the extraordinary people she'd meet through it, would lead her to following her dream of opening a boutique. Beciga is about to celebrate one year in business, and Marcus has found her calling. “I couldn't lift weights or be exposed to a group environment because of the germs while I had cancer,” she said. “My doctor recommended private classes which I took three times a week.” That's where she met her instructor, Kelly Mitchell. “I made it a point to try to look good after treatments and after yoga,” Marcus said. “It just made me feel good and people would compliment me on my outfits.” Mitchell was one of those who noticed and asked her, “If you had a fashion company, what would you call it?”Marcus came up with all sorts of answers, and Mitchell shot them all down. Then she said, “How about Beciga?” It was a combination of the names of her two dogs, Bently and Coco plus yoga. That would be it. Through yoga, Marcus had also met a woman named Maureen Higgins. It was 2014, and Higgins, also of Sparta, was hosting a trunk party. Mitchell didn't give Marcus an option and said, “You better be ready set up there and get this idea moving.” She started at that party with one rack of hand-picked clothing and sold out. For the next three years, Marcus sold out of Mitchell's yoga studio, on-line and at private functionsShortly there after, one of her sons was driving around Sparta and spied an empty store in a prime location across from the Sparta post office. Marcus and her husband, Steve, decided it was time for her to take her leap of faith and open a retail store in Beciga in September of 2018. Gone would be the days of working as Director of Talent Acquisition at Barnes & Noble. She was going to make her dream come to fruition. Higgins had moved on, and Marcus was taking yoga at Flipped Dog Yoga. She mentioned to her instructor, Colleen Brady, that she was looking for sales help. “I needed someone who really knew fashion and shared my vision,” Marcus said. Brady had the prefect answer in Gina Buongiorno, of Hopatcong, who was also one of her students. Higgins became the store's Director of Customer Relations and sales while Buongiorno focused on marketing and sales. As Beciga nears its one year anniversary the store's focus to “love life, love fashion” has been its hallmark. “The Beciga label is on some of our clothing and with others we very selectively had pick items,” Marcus said. “This is what has made the store so successful. We have a very wide range in age, size and style. We provide amazing stylish fashion at affordable prices.” In keeping with Marcus' going to treatment in stylish yet comfortable clothing she could wear for yoga, the business started with street wear and yoga clothes. “Every time I wear something from the store I get compliments,” Buongiorno said. “I literally have been stopped by people I didn't know. It's not that I dress for a compliment, but it makes you feel so good.” “Retail therapy real,” Marcus said. “Whether you've just had a baby or gone through a divorce or a tough time in your life or just want to make a change, we help women make a transformation.” “Women have their little hang ups with their bodies,” Higgins said. “We work with them to find something just right and they leave with their pretty little Beciga bag and we get to watch how happy they are.” The three women are all stylists but are never pushy as some boutiques can be. Customers are invited in and offered coffee or champagne and over the past year, they have made some great new friends in the context of fashion. “We are getting about 15 new customers per week,” Marcus said of the stats. “I'd classify Beciga as bo ho chic mixed in with some modern sophisticated pieces and a little bling.” Beciga donates to Susan G Komen and locally to Girls on the Run as well as many other fundraisers including tricky trays, etc. Marcus is now cancer free. “I found out how well the store was known when one day I was out walking with a friend,” Marcus said. “A random woman stopped me and said, 'Why aren't you in your store?' It was so nice and let me know how much customers and the community want us to succeed. People have realized we're here and are coming to Beciga instead of the mall to get ready for a night out, a special occasion or just to find something new.” Marcus is grateful to her husband, Steve for all he has done to help get the business started and keep it going strong. The Marcus' have two sons: Myles and Grant. “Women need to realize they don't have to fit into a mold,” Marcus said. “They should wear what makes them feel fabulous. That's what Beciga is all about and that's what fashion should be all about.” Beciga is located a 9 Main Street in Sparta. For online shopping visit http://beciga.com. For further information call 908-5007773 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.