Summer time is finally here, which means warmth, sun, late nights and, for many, vacationing. This season, boutique owner and stylist Traci Evans is making it a bit easier and stress-free for women to travel.
Evans, a Jacksonville native, recently came out with a line of clothing perfect for the woman on the go. Made of a polyester/spandex blend that doesn't require any ironing, the pack-and-go collection is perfect for a mother who doesn't have much time to get herself ready or any woman who wants to make the most out of her vacation.
"As I started doing more traveling, I would end up having to iron everything, and I just thought that there has to be a better way," Evans said. "If you don't know what you want to wear and you're concerned about being stylish, who has time for ironing?"
The collection currently consists mainly of prints that are vacation-driven, but Evans plans to expand the line to cater more to every day life, such as more solid colors and designs.
However, the pack-and-go collection is just one of the many aspects to the fashionista. Evans has lived and breathed fashion for as long as she can remember.
"I've always been into fashion, ever since I was a little girl," Evans said. "Fashion just has always been a part of my family, our life, and I can honestly say that fashion taught me how to love and what love is truly. It's always been a part of me and that's how I got my start."
The third-generation seamstress and designer also owns a boutique, Meow and Barks.
"Meow is for women; barks is for guys," Evans said.
Since Evans no longer sells men's clothing, she has contemplated changing the name of the boutique but says that it has really come to make a name and a brand for itself.
"It just represents a period of my life where I was going through love and just trying to understand a man," Evans said. "You just don't look at a cat the same way you look at a dog. Even though they're pets, they're different. Just being young and in love, if someone would've explained to me that even though men and women are human beings, we're not the same."
Evans first started the boutique in Jacksonville in 2010 and opened up a Buckhead location in April. The move from Jacksonville to the city was mainly based on Atlanta's fashion industry, according to Evans.
"I'm aware of the industry here [in Atlanta] and the excitement here, the entertainment here, and I just want my brand to be a part of that," Evans said.
Another aspect that influenced Evans' move from Jacksonville to Atlanta is the African American culture.
"Just as an African American woman, we deserve to have a place to shop where the clothing was picked out [specifically] for us," Evans said. "Meow and Barks is every bit of the African American woman and our culture. In order for us to build this brand, we had to have some casual things, vacation things, date night things, and going out things. I think Atlanta is all of that."
Meow and Barks contains clothing and accessories, as well as clothing for different looks and occasions. Prices in the boutique range from $49 to about $169.
"You're getting a lot of fashion for that amount," Evans said. "You're getting a lot of detail and even with the fabrics, there's something going on with each and every one. That's been another one of our driving forces—to make high fashion look affordable, then once again with the quality."
Meow and Barks is a fairly small showroom, yet it is filled with fashion from the ceiling to the floor and gives each customer that walks in a personal, intimate feeling.
"It makes you feel like you're at home; it feels like a closet," Evans said. "We try to make it as comfortable as possible. A lot of women have insecurities, like spots they want to conceal and things going on and we get [them] where [they're] most vulnerable. We wanted to make it very intimate where [customers are] able to express [their] problem areas and we're able to address them with styling that you may need."
As of right now, Evans is the buyer for all of the clothing in Meow and Barks. She goes out to different design companies and picks the designs out from several different venders. Evans took some time away from designing to grow her current business, but plans to start designing again next year.
This season, Evans says that the most popular trends are the bohemian-chic vibe, embroidery and beading, fringe, and sequins.
"You will see a lot of sequins being worn with things like jeans and tennis shoes," Evans said. "That's also a big thing this season—women with classic sneakers on. You may catch a woman with a dress on and some Stan Smith sneakers."
On the opposite end of the spectrum, active wear is starting to be worn with heels quite often.
"Don't be surprised if you see someone with Adidas leggings on and heels!" Evans said.
As for Evans' style, she prefers wearing "powerful" pieces of clothing that contain a lot of detail and conversation statement pieces.
"I like pieces that tell a story and I love cultural pieces," Evans said. "I feel like sometimes, that's what we're missing as African Americans. What's our culture? What do we like as African American women? That's pretty much where I'm going with Meow and Barks—to develop a style or a culture of clothing that represents African American women."
Evans says that she is excited to see how her business grows since opening the Buckhead location, and even has a few words of advice for other aspiring fashion business owners.
"Move with passion," Evans said. "Everything that you do, make sure you're truly passionate about it."
Meow and Barks Boutique is located at 2333 Peachtree Road NE in Atlanta.
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