Rita Williams wanted to find a way to afford the clothes her children wanted, and to help other parents.

Rita Williams wanted to find a way to afford the clothes her children wanted, and to help other parents. A mother of five, with three girls involved in barrel racing, she could not buy expensive clothes. After some research, and a bold leap with a refund from income tax, Williams decided to open her own business. "I wanted to find out if I could get the clothes kids wanted and offer value," said Williams. "So we decided on an alternative." She began as a vendor at barrel races, bull riding, and trade shows. "We traveled all over Louisiana to different trade shows as vendors," said Williams. "This was our family time, and we did this together." Williams decided it was time for something more permanent, so she opened Country By Design Boutique and Gifts in downtown Leesville on Oct. 1. She is happy to be a part of the thriving main street scene in Leesville. Her husband, Robert Lilly, who owns Southern Quality Paint, pitched in by remodeling the store space. Megan, 23, Stephanie, 20, and Allie, 10, help their mother choose items for the store. Matt, 17, and Eric, 6, aren't as involved. "The girls help with opinions before I order," said Williams, "especially clothes and jewelry I carry for young people." Williams' store has a variety of items including clothes, purses, jewelry, scarves, belts, custom diaper cakes, candles, and bath and body. She is expanding the plus size clothing lines for women. "You have to offer as much as you can," said Williams, "and keep changing and growing to thrive." Williams grew up in Hornbeck, and lives in Rosepine. Megan recently moved back to Louisiana, and will help her mom at the store. Williams will be at the Grant Christmas Tree Farm with items from her store on Dec. 1 and 8. Country By Design is hosting a special event for Christmas from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Dec. 15. "We will have milk and cookies and read stories while children write letters to Santa," said Williams. "We will have envelopes to mail the letters, or the kids can take them up the street to Santa at the Main Street Party Store." Country By Design is located at 406 B S. Third St. in downtown Leesville, across the street from Imperial Hardware Store. The hours are 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Friday, and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on Saturday. The store has a Facebook page, and is featured with Third Street merchants at www.mainstreetleesville.org. For more information, call (337) 353-0642.