TRAVERSE CITY — Kourtni Rader always seems to be answering questions about her fashion sense.
“Whenever I would go to Korea and come back wearing gorgeous, funky, unique shoes, people would come up to me and ask, 'Where’d you get those shoes?'” she said.
The same thing happened with her clothing, and Rader would always have to answer, “In Korea.”
Those hard-to-find, one-of-a-kind, latest fashions from Korea are a bit easier to locate these days since Rader opened a clothing boutique in downtown Traverse City called SeoulSisters Boutique with her sisters Morgan Dix and Whitney Richardson. The sisters share a soul saga that begins with adoption, includes the unexpected death of a beloved sister, also adopted, and continues with the opening of the store on East Front Street.
The story behind the SeoulSisters Boutique is a circuitous one. The three sisters were born in South Korea to different families, and under different circumstances were relinquished to an adoption agency to be sent to an American family in Michigan. Here, they became part of a larger sibling group of 12, which included their sister, Jennifer Mills.
Dix, Rader, and their mother, Susan Mills, traveled to Korea in 2010, where Dix’s search for her birth mother was successful. That experience put Rader on the path to open her first SeoulSisters project, SeoulSisters Tours and Travel, in 2012. She also continued to work with overseas adoptees. She previously worked in public policy for Holt International, which pioneered Korean adoptions to the United States after the Korean War.
After the death of their sister, Jennifer Mills, in January 2013, Rader said she needed to do something to help her sisters work through their grief and to ensure Jennifer's memory would live on. One night, a month later, she brainstormed the idea of the boutique, and called Dix and Richardson the next day.