Indiana native Kimberly Wilkinson moved to Charlotte in 2005 to attend Johnson C. Smith University. After graduation, she decided to open a women’s clothing store in her NoDa neighborhood. (Photo: Glenn H. Burkins for Qcitymetro.com)
Located within minutes of uptown Charlotte, the NoDa district is known as the city’s premier arts community. Not only does the cluster of galleries along North Davidson Street house one of the city’s largest collections of handmade crafts, it also is a growing hot spot for retail shopping — something that boutique owner Kimberly Wilkinson said was missing in the neighborhood before she opened Vivian B last year.
Wilkinson considers her store the perfect destination for women who want to look good at work or play.
“You can find pieces at Vivian B that you can wear to work, but you can also find that going-out dress,” she said. “It’s a good mix.”
Vivian B carries designer labels including Dolce Vita, BCBG, Seven Jeans for All Mankind, French Connection, as well as boutique-exclusive labels. Prices range from about $25 to around $200.
Wilkinson, a native of East Chicago, Ind., purchases pieces for the boutique based on her personal tastes and what she thinks people will buy. Wilkinson came up with the concept for Vivian B. about two years ago after giving birth to her daughter.
“I found myself in the mall every day,” she said. “I figured I should do what I like to do and make my own money. I didn’t want to work for anybody. The opportunity presented itself, so I took it.”
A resident of NoDa, Wilkinson says that when she was looking for a location for her business, she couldn’t think of a better place than her own neighborhood.
“There is a lot of foot traffic here. It’s a good destination place for people to come. Even people from out of town know about this area,” she said. “I thought that I could do well here, I could bring some of my fashion sense to the Queen City.”
Wilkinson, who graduated from Johnson C. Smith University with a degree in business, admits that she took a risk launching Vivian B during a troubled economy, but she says business has been good.
“People might be spending less money,” she says, “but they are still spending money.”
Vivian B (3100 N. Davidson St.; 980-939-1612)
Vivian B sits just across the street from a CATS bus stop, which services Route 3 (The Plaza) and Route 23 (Shamrock Drive). On weekends, finding parking in NoDa can be a challenge. Take advantage of the CATS Park and Ride lots, which are located throughout the Charlotte-Mecklenburg region. For information on the nearest Park and Ride lots, route schedules or to plan a trip from anywhere in the city, visit www.ridetransit.org.