Fashion returns to the square

Paris native fulfills lifelong dream to open her own women’s clothing store


For as long as Stephanie Hoeffken McKenna can remember, she’s always wanted to own her own boutique.

The 1996 Paris High School graduate — who resides in Terre Haute with her husband — explained she was working at a Terre Haure bank. “I turned 40 years old and wasn’t really happy at my job,” she said. “I decided now was the time.”

With two of her children in high school and the other in middle school, she said finding the building on the west side of the square was, “really a blessing.”

The bones of the building, constructed in 1893, was in fairly good shape, her husband, Jared said, but was gutted to make way for his wife’s vision.

“I remember growing up there were stores around the square selling women’s clothes,” she said. “I believe there is an opportunity here.”

One of the selling points — besides the price — was the tin ceiling which was hidden by a drop ceiling. The ceiling hasn’t been painted but brings the rustic look McKenna was looking for in the boutique.

Cousin Jennifer McKenna Minnick — who operates her own shop on the square About Face furniture restoration — talked the couple out of replacing the south wall of the building. “I said just let me work on it,” she said. In addition to the wall, she also worked her magic on the barn door hanging between the retail space and storage space.

In addition to the physical work to renovate the shop into a modern retail space, McKenna also needed retail product.

“I want to be able to provide clothing to a wide age range,” she said. In addition to women’s clothes, Bee Sweet Boutique also has jewelry, shoes, winter hats and scarves and jeans to fit almost all sizes.

Accompanied by her sister, Ann Buskill, a buying trip to Atlanta provided the first retail product.

“I knew pretty much what I was looking for,” she explained, noting she also has teenagers and knows what they like.

The current products available in the boutique include the fall and winter line in sizes up to 2X as well as plus size jeans up to size 22.

“Our clothes can be dressed up or dressed down, “ she said. “I wanted soft, comfortable things.”

The name of the boutique came about because as the couple were working in the store and preparing for the opening earlier this fall, “We were getting a lot of information about the Honeybee Festival,” she said.

The name and the colors of the clothes and clothes and retail space reflect colors which are particularly popular this year, she said.

“I wear a lot of black and gray, but we also have olive, mustard and wine colors great for fall and winter,” she said.

The super soft sweaters and tops in a variety of styles have been particularly popular, McKenna said.

“I wanted to provide affordable clothes and I think we’ve achieved that,” she said.

In addition to the clothes, the boutique features boots “booties” that are popular this year with everything from jeans to leggings.

The boutique hosted a soft opening Saturday, Nov. 3.

“We sold a lot of things,” she noted. “We have more stuff arriving next week.”

McKenna’s high school friends have been particularly excited by the new shop. “Kit Magers Kirby and Hillary Patrick have been so supportive,” she said.

McKenna wants everyone to know there is something for everyone in the boutique no matter age, size or taste. “We want everyone who comes in to feel comfortable,” she said. “We’re laid back.”

A grand opening is planned in the spring, McKenna said. “I want to get the outside of the building completed,” she explained.

In the meantime, the boutique is open Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and closed Sunday and Monday.

The shop accepts all credit and debit cards and cash, but no checks.

The boutique will be open for the Christmas in Paris celebration. “We’re really looking forward to that,” she said.