There’s nothing more beautiful than being yourself.
That’s the spirit behind Be You Boutique, downtown Somerset’s latest fashion store and another piece of the revitalization puzzle for the heart of the community.
“I have always loved fashion and dressing up since I was a little girl but I never imagined having the pleasure of owning my own boutique,” said Ashton Dockery, who conceived of the business and runs it with her mother Amy and “everyone’s grandma ‘Mamaw Sue’” — making it a true family affair.
“After a year or so of owning the boutique I started to envision what it would be like to make it into a career,” added Dockery, a 2016 graduate of Somerset High School and 2019 Eastern Kentucky University alum. “My dream and visions of what I want my career and business to be has continued to grow. It is a lot of hard work, but I’m loving it.”
Once upon a time, downtown Somerset had its share of fashion retailers — those of more advanced generations will fondly remember names like the Fair Store or the Cotton Shop. But as the commercial landscape in Somerset changed and shifted to U.S. 27, so did the texture of downtown -- and for years, it was no longer the place people went to shop for something nice to wear.
But that’s changing, in part due to people like Dockery and her entrepreneurial spirit. At first, however, Be You Boutique was not even a brick-and-mortar store, but rather a product of the Internet age.
In March of 2016, the business opened as an online only boutique, at ShopTheBYB.com.
“My mom Amy and I started the boutique in my senior year of high school,” said Dockery. “I got a bachelors in Apparel Design & Merchandising where I was able to expand my knowledge of the retail/business world where I could apply it to our business.”
The online shopping option is still available, and the store is very active on social media with its Facebook page (”ShopBeYouBoutique”), VIP group and Instagram (”shopthebyb”) pages. You can also see them on Pinterest at “shopthebyb” or download the Shop Be You Boutique app for your phone.
However, “we had several local customers asking to see our clothes in person,” said Dockery, “so in the Summer of 2017 we moved our warehouse to my grandmother’s basement and started having weekly ‘Open Shops’ for our local gals.
As our boutique began to grow, I realized that owning a boutique is my passion and that I wanted to make it my full time career,” she continued. “At this point, opening a storefront in downtown Somerset became of dream of mine!”
That dream not only benefited Dockery and her family, it helped Somerset fill one of it’s most historic empty spaces. Long a grocery store in the community and most recently the Food Fair, the retail space across from the Somerset Energy Center on East Mt. Vernon Street became vacant in late 2018. A search was on by local developers to fill it, and Dockery was the first to come on board, getting the space last summer (the building is now split between her store and the Charred Oak Whiskey Grill restaurant).
“After a year of construction and designing our dream store, it finally came to life in August 2020,” said Dockery. “We were able to design the layout of the store and decorate it to fit our vision. So far it has been absolutely amazing. We have loved the downtown traffic and now we are right besides Charred Oak Grill where we compliment each other which is a blessing for our business.”
Dockery added that one reason that they decided to open a storefront is so that they could reach the local community more effectively. “Currently about 60-70 percent of our sales are out of state, and we want to give back to our local community as well,” she said.
The store built its clientele early on by reaching out on social media, asking friends to share Be You Boutique’s posts and pages.
“We also did pop up shops where we would travel to surrounding areas and take our clothes to meet people and help spread our name,” said Dockery. “We try to do monthly events and include other local businesses whenever possible to help promote them as well.”
The store is known for carrying items that appeal to a wide age range of ladies, said Dockery. Perhaps the best-selling item is Kancan jeans — the store carries 30-plus styles that vary in wash and fit.
“We love knowing that a daughter, mom and grandma like us can come into our store and all three find something they love!” said Dockery.
Of course, Spring looks are always something fashionistas keep in mind, and Be You Boutique keeps up with the trends.
“We love buying the trendy seasonal pieces as the seasons change,” said Dockery. “This time of year we are starting to get our brighter color lightweight tops that are perfect for now and will transition well into the warmer weather. A few staples for spring are white jeans and white denim jackets, and we are excited to say we just got them in!”
Dockery is a new mom “to a beautiful baby boy,” Beau, so running the store in addition to having a new child has been a challenge. But she remains committed to her other very special creation, Be You Boutique, which, like all children, looks to continue to grow and become even more incredible — as does Somerset itself, thanks to businesses like Be You Boutique.
“We are so excited to be part of a downtown community,” said Dockery. “We look forward to supporting other downtown businesses and working with them and the community in any way that we can.
“It has been such an amazing experience growing our business with the downtown,” she added. “We loved being able to watch having the car shows on the weekends and the festivals which just light up our town.”