When Kandy Barkley was scoping out the as a potential location for her clothing boutique, it wasn’t just the space that caught her eye—it was the refrigerator.
“When I came in here, I fell in love with it,” she said.
To be fair, this isn’t just any old refrigerator Barkley is talking about. It’s an antique, floor-to-ceiling decorative cooler that once was used by a butcher in the former Otto & Gert’s building in the heart of historic Harmony.
“It actually functions, too,” Barkley said.
Today, the unique piece occupies a prime space in Barkley’s new clothing boutique, Eye Kandy.
Located inside T—Eye Kandy opened Aug. 1. The boutique features women’s clothing at a variety of price points, handbags, belts and other accessories.
“It’s more one-of-a-kind stuff,” Barkley said of the boutique’s style.
A alumni who grew up and lives in Harmony, Barkley said she carefully chose each piece in the store to reflect comfort, style and a flattering fit—for all body types.
“The main thing when I look at clothes is how it will look on a women’s body,” she said.
Prior to opening Eye Kandy, Barkley was vice-president of finance at her family’s business, Knichel Logistics in Gibsonia. After taking a break from the business to deal with a health issue, Barkley said she found herself wanting to do something different.
Enter Angela Dawson.
The owner of A. Dawson Apparel Group, which specializes in women’s wholesale clothing and accessories, Dawson, of Jackson Township, is a clothing representative for about a dozen brands.
Barkley, who is friends with Dawson, said she began selling Dawson’s sample items from her own home in trunk shows. It wasn’t long before she decided to open her own boutique.
“I thought wow, this is great,” Barkley said of being inspired to open her own shop. “Everyone loved everything so much.”
Brands carried at Eye Kandy include Hodge’s Collection, Dunia and Inside Out. One of the more unique lines is Fredd + Basha. The brand features handbags painted by elephants. And yes, that means actual elephants at the Elephants Helping Elephants Clinic in northern Thailand use brushes held in their trunks to stroke paint on the bags.
A portion of the proceeds from the purse sales contribute to the care of the elephants, Barkley said. Fredd + Basha also has a line of vegan bags.
Barkley put her own fun spin on the shop though the décor. With help from her husband, Israel, Barkley repurposed a pair of chairs from Pittsburgh’s Construction Junction by painting them a cheerful robin’s egg blue and adding leopard print upholstery to them.
On the walls are wooden doors, also picked up from Construction Junction, that hold up clothing racks. At Barkley’s request, Israel, a computer software engineer, fashioned a chandelier out of a trio of white birdcages that hangs from the center of the boutique.
A portion of the shop also is dedicated to the creations of the couple’s 10-year-old daughter, Zaydra. A fifth-grader at , Zaydra creates custom headbands, wallets and other accessories out of funky strips of duct tape. Like her mom, the fashionable tween has been a fixture at the store since its opening.
“She wouldn’t have it any other way,” Barkley said with a laugh.
Shoppers can learn more about the Barkley family in person Saturday.
Eye Kandy will hold its grand opening from 6 to 10 p.m. Aug. 11. Barkley said the event would feature entertainment, wine from Bottles and Barrels (also located in The Center of Harmony), snacks, gift bags and more.
“It’s going to be pretty rocking,” she said.
In the future, Barkley said she plans to team up with Harmony’s for a fashion show. She also hopes to hold a clothing drive for the Pittsburgh branch of Dress for Success. The nonprofit helps disadvantaged women by providing them with professional attire and other career development tools.
“As a women business owner, I really want to promote other women succeeding,” Barkley said.
Are you excited for the boutique's opening? What are some of your favorite fashion finds? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.