At 17, Charrise Walker found herself pregnant and homeless, spending nights sleeping on the couches of friends in her native Detroit and wondering who might take her in next.

At 17, Charrise Walker found herself pregnant and homeless, spending nights sleeping on the couches of friends in her native Detroit and wondering who might take her in next.

Today, Walker is the owner of Mine, Body, Sole Boutique and Beauty Bar at 4764 N. High St., the former Balloons and Tunes store.

The journey between a young woman's despair and the likelihood of a life spent on welfare to independent businesswoman is a remarkable one

"I've had my struggles," Walker said last week as she recounted her troubled youth and the recently realized dream of starting her own enterprise.

Tears well up easily as Walker recalls those tough times when she remembers thinking to herself, "I'm pregnant. I'm 17. What am I going to do?"

The answer, it turned out, was that she was going to scrape together the bus fare to get to a maternity home for girls run by the Salvation Army that she had spotted in the newspaper. Her son was born, and Walker earned her GED the following month.

"I just refused to give up," she said.

Next up was training to be a medical office assistant, something she did for 16 years, most recently at Urban Podiatry, not far from the new boutique.

While she was enrolled in the program in Detroit, Walker said she scraped together bus fare again, this time to go to court and petition for full custody of her three younger brothers and younger sister. Walker and her four siblings had escaped the foster-care system in Detroit when their grandmother took them in, along with the eight other children she already was caring for, but Walker said her grandmother was "getting tired."

"Each of my younger siblings has gone on to college and is thriving," Walker said in a statement about the opening of Mine, Body, Sole.

"I wanted more for my life than what I grew up around and knew," Walker said in an interview. "I was bound and determined that I was going to make something of myself."

Growing up poor, Walker said she could rarely afford new clothing, but she still received lots of compliments on the outfits she put together from budget stores and sales racks.

At the boutique, Walker added, her motto is, "Look like a million bucks without spending a fortune." Nothing in the store is priced over $100, she said.

After years of saving up from having a small retail operation near her home on the East Side while also working at Urban Podiatry, Walker said she began hoping and praying to find a High Street location for a full-time store.

The commute to work often took her past the storefront vacated by Balloons and Tunes, and one day, Walker called the real-estate agent.

He offered to show it to her, but had forgotten the key when they met for an appointment.

"Maybe it wasn't meant to be," Walker said.

The next day, the agent provided her with the key and said she could let herself in to look around, which she felt showed a remarkable degree of trust.

"I was thinking maybe this is a sign," Walker said.

The signs inside were less uplifting.

"It was a lot of work," agreed her husband, Guy Walker Jr., who now operates his Clean Guy commercial and residential cleaning service out of the back of the space. "The walls were mismatched colors. The ceiling was just rough. Whoever was here before, they must have liked the carpet, because they took it with them."

In addition to the clothing, most of it by local designers, in the front of Mine, Body, Sole Boutique and Beauty Bar, there is a Diva Den with shoes on one side and a space where Walker said a makeup artist friend can take care of bridal parties or a group of women getting ready for a night out on the town.

"Customers are really welcoming us to the neighborhood," Charrise Walker said.

Mine, Body, Sole is open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.