Today is Tuesday, August 22, 2017

MJ's oldest building hosting newest boutique

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Kelly Mason, store owner
Country music singer Aubrey Wollett is wearing a pair of boots designed by Mason.

Tucked inside a space in the oldest building in Mt. Juliet is a gem ready to gleam.

This Saturday Kelly Mason will open the doors to her most unique boutique that sidles the railroad tracks in the heart of Mt. Juliet.

"Yes, I'm told this is the oldest known building left standing in Mt. Juliet," single mom and business woman Kelly said while she was knee deep in merchandise, in a good-sized place she's transformed in just 11 weeks.

Abandoned for "years and years and years and years," the two-story, historically-famous building built in 1908 has been a pharmacy, grocery store and post office among other things through the decades, she's been told.

And while the dusty, dirty place with almost dirt floors (Kelly admits the floor part is a bit exaggerated, "but they were rough!") would not beckon the usual entrepreneur, fashion-forward boutique owner, it spoke to Kelly immediately as home to Klothes, Jewelry and More.

KJ&M is her brand new charming boutique that's got a fitting vintage, throwback vibe she created with the use of equally antique building materials she's salvaged from local century-old homes and barns.

Inside on Saturday when she opens at 10 a.m., customers will discover her vintage inspired clothing (which she designs much of), homemade jewelry, distressed, but up-scaled embellished cowboy (and other) boots, handmade soap and so much more.

Natural segue from rolling boutique to storefront

Kelly has covered the walls with barn wood and made vignettes out of old farmhouse doors she's repurposed. Her dressing room doors are wood planks with guitar parts for handles. The rusty tin came from a friend's barn.

It's her dream come true and has come with vision and fortitude. This journey began some years back when she was "chucked" from a good career in medical sales.

Healthcare reform caused her to be "let go" from a stable career and she found herself a single mom to a teenage boy, Dylan, and in somewhat of a pickle as to what to do next. But today she said it's the best thing that ever happened to her.

"The first time I was laid off from my long-time career I was literally devastated," said Kelly. "I was able to find another job, and when I was let go from that one I wasn't devastated, but I was angry. I was motivated to never work for anyone else."

A few days after the second pink slip, she got a wild hair and decided to pursue her passion of fashion design. Kelly explained her unique design sense and ability were born out of necessity.

"Well, I hung out with what's called the 'cool kids' in school," she said. "They all had money and I didn't."

Her dad was disabled at a young age.

"I had to compensate for not being able to just go buy stuff," she said. "So I'd go the Goodwill or thrift stores and completely redo the clothes. Everybody loved them."

Fast forward several years, she opened a storefront in Murfreesboro with a partner, bought an old truck and turned it into a rolling boutique which she has taken to flea markets, barn sales, private events and many other venues.

"It's very successful," she said.

So much so she's taken the leap and opened KJ&M.

Why the oldest building in Mt. Juliet?

Kelly said she just could not find a suitable place to open a storefront in Mt. Juliet and was looking outside the county. Mt. Juliet City Manager Kenneth Martin heard about her dilemma and got with Scott Lumley, who owns the vintage building, about Kelly possibly leasing space in the updated downstairs space next to the abandoned space.

"There were two sides, and I walked around the space that was redone and had last been a garden-type shop," Kelly explained. "But then I saw this door and I asked, 'Where does that go to? Kenny said, 'Oh, you don't want to see that, it's just an abandoned spot.'"

Of course Kelly wanted to see, and when that creaky door opened and she was in the dank, dark place, she looked past the holes in the walls and knew it would be hers.

"I saw the possibilities," she said.

She indeed transformed the spot that's a little less than 2,000 square feet. It's filled now with tons of unique merchandise not found elsewhere, she noted. Its décor is homage to the building's history. Her line of cowboy boots is catching the eyes of up-and-coming, vintage-loving female country music singers.

She's spent 11 weeks working 12-plus hours with a huge construction crew reinvigorating the place while keeping its unique history.

Her clothes are sized 4 children's to 3X.

"I would describe them as vintage-like, comfy, cozy, fabulous and stylish," Kelly said. "I also have a line of graphic T's I've designed."

Also for sale is her line of lotions, body scrubs, chapsticks and bodybutters, as well as homemade purses. Sixty percent of her items are clothes and gifts, while the other are things such as locally sourced honeys and more.

People are intrigued

Many people know Kelly from her jazzed up rolling boutique that has similar merchandise, but they are intrigued she now has a storefront in such an intriguing space. She finds them peeping into the windows.

"They love the whole ole-timey feel of things," she said. "I think they are so excited this building hasn't been torn down."

What gets Kelly excited, besides debuting her merchandise, is the fact she has more than 20 years of customer service experience and will lend that expertise to this venture.

"I pride myself on my sense of detail and customer satisfaction," she said. "And I want to bring something different to Mt. Juliet's center. I really hope with my custom boots people will come here from Nashville to check them out."

Country singer Aubrey Wollett sports Kelly's boots almost daily.

"I can't really describe what I do to them, people just need to see them," Kelly said. "No two are alike."

Fringed boho purses, workout gear, "catching dreams" tops, custom pants, handmade dresses, scarves and distressed cowboy boots with custom cuffs are a few more of her sought after items.

Kelly said she hopes her business journey inspires other women to never give up and pursue their passions.

Saturday is a "soft opening," with Oct. 1 slated for a big-blast official opening with live music from Wollett.

"It's been a whirlwind these last couple months, but that's kind of how I roll," she said.

Her store is located at 2232 North Mt. Juliet Road, next to the railroad tracks and across from the train station.

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