AROUND TOWN: Mary Katherine's

It wasn’t until late into my college career when I noticed a wonderfully charming little boutique, a mere few minutes right off campus. One beautiful spring day, I was walking through downtown getting coffee when a hot pink door across the street caught my eye. From there I noticed the shop sign: Mary Katherine’s. Mary Katherine herself enthusiastically shared the story of her shop and her plans to expand.

Name: Mary Katherine Sharpe Smith

Role: Shop Owner and Founder

CollegeFashionista: How long have you been in business?

Mary Katherine Sharpe Smith: We’ve been open for four years now.

CF: What inspired you to open the shop?

MS: Mary Katherine’s started as a gift store. At the time we thought that some of the gift stores had gone by the wayside, and there was a new need. People also began asking about apparel, so we started to look into adding that, too.

CF: Who is your customer?

MS: I love this question, because we have almost two separate customer bases. Your mom could come in here and shop, but so could her daughter. Part of the challenge is keeping something for both groups, and then having something that crosses over and bridges the two groups. 

We just brought in a men’s line! We’re just going to stick with accessories. I’m not sure we’re going to have a lot of male clients, but we’ve gotten great responses from that.

CF: Have social media and digital technologies influenced how you market?

MS: We are on Instagram and Facebook. We’re actually getting ready to launch an online store! That’ll soon become our e-commerce site. I’ve hired someone to help with the site because I know we have to go that way [to keep up with changing times]. It’s going to be called We’re gonna promote it like, “What’s your MK style?” There’s a flavor to us. We can be bohemian, but we can have a little prep. We want our customers to discover their own taste.

CF: What are your goals in serving your client?

MS: We take great pride when a lady leaves here feeling really good about how she looks. We want our customers to discover their own taste. We can make suggestions, but we want them to make a purchase because they truly feel good wearing that item. 

I really like the intimacy of a boutique. In the corporate world, you can develop those relationships, but not in the same way as in a boutique. I have people that come from Raleigh to shop here. That’s amazing to me. 

Learn More: Spring is in the air! Update your warm-weather wardrobe by visiting Mary Katherine’s Facebook page or their website today.