Mariel Braid started working in retail at the age of 15 and hasn’t looked back since.
She was in a Catonsville consignment store while in college, then spent five years in a boutique in historic Ellicott City, where she and her colleagues weathered two floods. After that, she set up her own little boutique in a 10ft by 12ft space inside Catonsville Mercantile, an eclectic storefront that sells vintage pieces, home decor, and gifts.
Late Sunday morning, Braid, a resident of Mount Airy, was leaning against a counter near the front of a small store on East Patrick Street. The wall next to her was cluttered with plush dog toys – including boxes of “White Paw” and oversized slices of avocado toast – and the tables in the store were filled with jewelry, candles, snacks, bottled water and cocktail mixes. At the back, designer clothes including Route One Apparel of Maryland surrounded a locker room.
And for the first time, everything was hers, all housed in her new Frederick store.
Braid named her small storefront Augusta Rose – Augusta for her middle name, which was also her great-grandmother’s first name, and Rose because she loves flowers. It wasn’t until later that she found out that the second part of the name was also special in another way.
“My mother told me after that I have already chosen it and done all the paperwork that [Rose] was my other great-grandmother’s name, ”she said with a smile. “It was a happy coincidence.”
True to form, Braid said Augusta Rose has been a family business since its inception. When she first visited the storefront, which once housed a barber shop, she couldn’t even turn on the lights in the back room. She leaned on her mother throughout the renovation process, and her brother and father helped redesign the bathroom. Her boyfriend, a master carpenter, also helped build the store’s locker room and install wood panels on its walls.
But it is in the small store window that Braid’s creativity is revealed. She graduated from the Maryland Institute College of Art with a degree in fiber, also taking an interest in pottery and photography along the way. His graduation thesis, however, had a strong focus on the design of spaces. She was able to develop this skill when she worked in Sweet Elizabeth Jane in Ellicott City, where she did the showcase.
On Sunday, pastel balloons hung in an arch in front of Augusta Rose’s window, surrounding a sign with the store’s name and an arrangement of ocean-blue snacks, candles and ceramics.
Next week, she will revamp the display with a back to school theme, she said.
“I’ve already planned my Christmas window and can’t wait to see the little kids stop and watch it,” Braid said.
When designing the interior of the store, Braid said she had tried to merge “the old” with the “new,” honoring the history of design while adding a modern touch. She has installed dark brown wooden shelves on the walls of the store and displays her inventory of candles on a pair of clean white ledges.
With its white-tinted woodwork, Augusta Rose looks like a store one might find along a beach promenade – something Braid dreams of one day becoming a reality. Opening a second location near the water is part of her three-year plan, she said.
She thinks for a second.
“Maybe it’s a five-year goal, not a three-year goal,” she laughed.
In the meantime, however, Braid said it feels good to be part of a community again. Almost every day, a man walks past his shop with his dog. He always stops to take his dose of chocolate.
She wants Augusta Rose to be a space – as her shop slogan says – “where you can always find the sun”.
“I just want to make people happy,” she said. “Even if they don’t buy anything. I just want it to be a cute little oasis where they smile.
Open for Business is an occasional feature highlighting new businesses in Frederick County. Contact Angela Roberts at [email protected].
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