By Lee Noles
WAXHAW – Siela Boutique started with the idea to have top-of-the-line shopping in a friendly atmosphere. But what separates this quaint and inviting store from others is its purpose.
Co-owners Kim Henson and Alara Baltmiskis offer clothing and décor that is ethical, not harmful. Sustainable, never wasteful. A business driven not to ignore or masquerade the world’s problems with fashionable fabric and accessories, but to solve them by using what the longtime friends call clothing with a cause.
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“We wanted to be something different,” Henson said. “We wanted to have a meaning – a purpose.”
The idea started in 2018 while at dinner with their husbands when Baltmiskis inquired about opening a fashion boutique in Waxhaw. Henson was excited about the opportunity and jumped on board. One of the reasons Baltmiskis wanted to open the shop came after research she did on the fashion industry revealed exploitation practices that weren’t eco-friendly.
“I was so taken aback by it,” Baltmiskis said. “When we opened our eyes to that, we wanted to share it with other people. We had a connection. We had an investment in this.”
Henson and Baltmiskis found space at Shops at Millview off Main Street. Within months, the studs and steel frames were covered with decorative white walls and floors with wood paneling.
Waxhaw was the only place they wanted to open the store because of their desire to give back to the community where they live while bringing a different idea to the town.
They contacted companies that supplied clothing that fit into their idea of using fair business practices as well as product that protected the earth. One of those companies uses proceeds from sales to help stop human trafficking. Another focuses on sustainable employment opportunities, while another looks to cut down on the public use of plastics.
Siela Boutique opened in summer 2018 and quickly cultivated a following with the help of Henson and her daughters placing fliers in mailboxes around the community. Instagram has been a big plus in getting the business out to the public.
“It’s surreal,” Baltmiskis said. “People come here and understand you and fall in love with what we are doing. It makes me happy to see that.”
The store mostly sells women and girls’ clothing that can range in sizes from XS to 2XL and is made from eco-friendly goods that use recycled fabrics and low-impact dyes. The clothing includes loungewear and workwear as well as denim and jackets and features some brands that are Made in the USA. But the store also has interesting gifts like silk dental floss and silicon straws that cut down on plastic. The store carries accessories like purses, handbags and jewelry and has become a favorite stopping point for customer Patricia Jones.
“It’s really important for me to have that,” Jones said of place that supports the ideals she believes in. “And it is really good quality.”
The small-shop arrangement is perfect for Jones and Baltmiskis but that doesn’t mean they are sitting back on their laurels. They are always trying to find new artisan groups to work with and hope to bring more clothing that caters to men and infants. The friends will also continue to inform others how they can volunteer in the community. The store will offer classes on how to care for and mend their clothes and include clothing swaps as well as guest speakers.
“There are a lot of good things going on in this little space,” Baltmiskis said.
Want to learn more?
Customers can also shop at www.sielaboutique.com. Siela Boutique has a Facebook and Instagram page.
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