How The Triangle Got Dressed

Jul 22, 2013

Three generations of women wearing clothing bought at Smitten Boutique.

Food is like a religion in the South.  It’s well-known that Durham was named the "Tastiest City in the South" by Southern Living.  But the food scene here is relatively new.  Restaurants, food trucks, and coffee shops opened up in recent years to make Durham's cuisine what it is.

Like food, fashion is part of a region's culture and retail services a region's people.  When Nancy McKaig first moved to Durham in the late 1980s, there was little shopping here at all.  She’s watched this scene develop and she’s contributed to it.  Nancy McKaig is the owner of Smitten Boutique and Step Shoe Boutique

The staff at Smitten Boutique ranges from age 19 to age 75, and the customer base is similarly broad.

"One of our customers came in with her daughter, who was graduating from Carolina, and her mom.  And they were getting ready to attend the graduation ceremony.  And all three of them purchased a dress for the occassion from us.  For me, I felt like I had really arrived to be able to outfit those three people," McKaig said in an interview on The State of Things.  

Nancy is also a mother to two boys, Harrison and Will.  Her younger son Will is profoundly autistic.  Harrison is a rising sophomore at West Virginia University and Will recently entered a group home.  

For much of her children's upbringing, Nancy McKaig led two separate lives: as a successful small business owner and a single mother to a special needs child.  She gives credit to her older child Harrison for helping her juggle her two worlds.  

"He endured a lot and helped me tremendously with Will.  He was always very respectful of the long hours that I had to work and helped me with the care of his brother.  His brother is very, very attached to him.  I felt very fortunate to have a child like Harrison.  Without him, I don't know if I could have made my way through all of that as easily as I did," said McKaig.