I walked by the entrance of the boutique, pretending to be en route to somewhere else.
Note, during that time, there weren’t any other shops in the neighborhood.
“I wonder if she saw me looking through the window?” I thought to myself.
I did one more lap around the block and finally said, “I’m going in.”
I walked into the immaculately designed space and was instantly drawn to the vibrant yet sophisticatedly sourced décor.
I’d recently returned to the US after living in Istanbul, Turkey working as a textile designer. It was the ikat fabric that appeared to be falling from the sky that drew me into the boutique.
I was nervous.
I was making less than $19,000 at the time and I knew everything in the shop was more than six of my paychecks.
I didn’t know what to expect upon greetings the sales associate.
I was uneasy with the thought that the sales associate (I didn’t know she was the owner at the time) would stop talking to me because I couldn’t afford anything there.
Everything from the moment Carolyn spoke, was contrary to the thoughts I’d created about her and her well designed boutique.
Not only was she the warmest most welcoming person ever, she was also the owner.
We sat and chatted for almost an hour. I told her about my schooling in Europe and my stint as a textile designer in Istanbul. We discussed designers, vintage clothing and the importance of quality over quantity.
Carolyn was very aware that I did not have the means to buy anything from her lovely boutique but that didn’t stop her from encouraging me to try on pieces and asking for my opinion as to how I would style it.
I couldn’t have been more entranced.
While playing dress up, there was a coat that I fell in LOVE with. Everything about the coat spoke to me. The color, the construction but most of all, the details.
From a patternmaking prospective, it was like nothing I had ever seen in the US. The technique and craftmanship of that coat was certainly European.
I didn’t even bother to look at the tag because I knew it was out of my below poverty line budget.
I was working part time at a community center and nothing in my day to day existence would have called for a coat of that grandeur.
I wasn’t where I wanted to be mentally, emotionally or financially at that time. But I knew wholeheartedly the woman I would become, would wear that coat whenever and wherever she wanted.
Carolyn saw something in me that I didn’t at the time and she invested in me. I gave her my word and she held the coat for me until I saved enough money to make the purchase.
Once I purchased the coat, I got a garment bag and stored the belle until I was ready to be. The coat remained in my closet for years.
I can still remember the day I debut that coat.
I closed on my first home Oct 31 (my favorite holiday) shortly after being converted from an intern to a career employee.
I woke up, and looked in my closet (which was packed to capacity with boxes and moving supplies.)
One item hung in the closet of my new home.
The coat I had saved for and purchased years prior at the The C.A.TWalk Boutique.
Before getting dressed for the day, I draped the coat across my shoulders and walked across the hardwood floors of my new home.
At that moment, I sipped my instant coffee (don’t judge me, I was an intern a few months prior and just purchased a home) and I knew I was so much closer to the woman I would become.
Thank you Carolyn, for believing in me when I didn’t.
Being a divorcee and single mother of a child with special needs by the age of twenty-two, I truly thought I lost a part of me. Carolyn you saw that missing part and you continued to support and motivate me, through EVERY chapter of my development.
Your graciousness means more than you know.
I’ve received compliments in nine countries and eight languages while wearing this belle. Below are a few highlights:
The dress from the cover image, is also from Carolyn!
When you stop by the boutique, tell her Jessie sent you 💋
Do you have a piece that holds a significant place in your life?
Ciao for now 💋