A moody little shop with a bohemian flair – “Boutique Aiken” has opened its doors at 320 Park Avenue. You may want to check it out, because, as customers so far have professed, “There is nothing in Aiken quite like it.” And as owner Katie Gantt puts it, “It’s a vibe.”
Boutique Aiken is a sensory experience. The first thing most people say when they walk in is, “Wow it smells good in here”, says Gantt, who sells a variety of incenses, sage bundles, soaps, and locally made candles and bath and body products. Customers shop her small, curated selection of new and vintage clothing and accessories to a range of sounds from Jimi Hendrix to Django Reinhardt to Al Green. She also offers a section of Korean beauty products, such as paper masks, dermaplaning razors, lip masks, and more. “I hope to always keep my selection relatively small, so that it can continue to be as curated as possible,” Gantt says.
“Everything that I offer for sale reflects my interests and personal style. I have been passionate about fashion and beauty since middle school. I would sit at the book store with my dad for hours and read stacks of high fashion magazines. The high school hallways became my runway,” she laughs. “I have mellowed out a bit since those days, but fashion continues to be one of my primary methods of self-expression.”
Gantt, 33, attended Wagener-Salley schools and studied English Literature at Clemson University. After college, she spent some time traveling and eventually moved back home to Aiken County four years ago. “Growing up out in the country, we’d come to Aiken primarily to grocery shop. When I moved home a few years ago, I really discovered the City of Aiken and its culture for the first time and fell in love. The library, The Willcox, South Boundary, downtown – I fell under its spell.”
When she visited her aunt and uncle at their store, Vintage Music, just a few doors down from Boutique Aiken, she also became enamored with Park Avenue. She saw the vacant store front for rent and knew she had to jump at the opportunity to fulfill a longtime dream of owning her own business. “I grew up working alongside my father, Paul Gantt, at his store in Batesburg and listening to stories about his father, my grandfather, who was a serial entrepreneur in his lifetime. He was a creator and made a lasting impact on the community. Those are goals that I think are ingrained in me at this point.”
Gantt plans to incorporate events into the happenings at Boutique Aiken in the near future. She has a grand opening soiree, book readings, live music, and yoga classes in the pipeline.
Boutique Aiken is located at 320 Park Avenue, next door to Panache Hair Salon and The Nicole Simpkins Collection and is open Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. College students with a valid ID receive 10% off total purchase. Follow Boutique Aiken on Instagram and Facebook to stay up to date on new merchandise, specials, events and more!