Kimberly Evans has an eye for finding treasures in unlikely places and turning something old into something new.
The Blakely woman sees the potential in everything, evident in how she transformed an old storefront at 203 Lackawanna Ave., Olyphant, into theKimmy, a vibrant space for women’s clothing and accessories. Evans’ boho boutique has beachy decor that looks like it was picked up in Malibu and dropped into Northeast Pennsylvania.
Though it has West Coast vibes, theKimmy’s breezy atmosphere feels right at home as everyone who walks into the shop is greeted with a warm welcome and hospitality. Evans also prides herself on filling the racks and shelves with “high-quality, soft-to-the-touch fabrics and fashionable pieces that will look good on any body and any size.”
“But I also wanted to create an atmosphere that felt like my home,” Evans added one recent night at her store. “I wanted it to feel warm and welcoming and comfortable. I want people to feel comfortable and confident. You’re not just a customer; you’re part of (theKimmy).”
Though she’s always loved clothes and aesthetics, Evans never saw herself as a clothing store owner. However, she’s also moved through much of her life without a plan. Her career began in children’ mental health, where Evans worked as a case manager for many years. There were rewarding moments and plenty of times she felt like she made a difference, though there also were challenging and emotionally draining times. When she became pregnant, her perspective changed.
“You’re obviously always putting the children first, but when it comes to you as a mom, it’s different because you’re now thinking of your own kids,” she said. “Some people can do it, but for me, it was just time for me to find something else.”
Around this time, Evans also experienced complications with her pregnancy and needed to remain on bed rest for much of it. When she finally gave birth to her twin sons, Ben and Luke, they faced health problems that kept them in and out of the hospital until they were toddlers. When they were well, Evans started teaching group fitness and yoga at the Greater Carbondale YMCA, where they went to preschool.
“I started as a volunteer, and then I became an employee,” she said. “I really just fell into it. I wasn’t the typical yogi, either, and I think people liked that because it never felt intimidating.”
In the meantime, Evans always held a passion for clothes. Evans’ mom, Pat Krushinski, and grandmother, the late Betty Rinkunas, worked in dress factories. Evans learned to sew at a young age and loved to search for luxurious, high-quality fabrics to create her own custom pieces, like ponchos. She started to host “Sip and Shop” nights for her friends, where they could come over, try them on and mingle. Evans eventually began buying wholesale clothing for these events and helped her friends find the pieces they looked and felt confident in.
“I love clothes, and I make a killer cocktail,” she said. “Everybody was coming over, and it started as one friend, maybe two friends, to a few more and a few more and, then, it was just a revolving door of people coming to shop in my basement.”
During this time, her husband became ill, and she needed a job where she could work from home. Her clothing venture seemed the perfect fit, and Evans took it to a new level when she officially launched her own e-commerce store. She taught herself everything from the software needed to run an online shop to the social media and marketing strategies she needed to reach customers. While she encountered some naysayers, they only fueled her desire to succeed.
“You want to guarantee I’ll do something? Tell me I can’t,” she said.
Evans’ website began to blow up, and soon it was too big of an operation to fit in her basement. She found a storefront in downtown Olyphant, which she knew was a perfect fit for her.
“I’m a valley girl. This is my home, and I wanted to bring this into the area I grew up in,” she said. “I love the look of a downtown, and especially in Olyphant, I saw a lot of potential. It has the storefronts, it has gorgeous architecture, and it’s in a great location. It was where I needed to be.”
TheKimmy boutique opened in the Queen City in March 2020, “just before the world ended,” joked Evans. In the meantime, she and a group of friends turned the store into a small mask factory, making thousands of masks in the early days of the pandemic. On the business side, it was an easy fix to switch back to online-only sales, she said, though people’s shopping habits changed. Shoppers weren’t spending much money on clothing, and when they did, they wanted comfortable pieces they could wear while staying home.
Even when things began to open back up, it was a slow burn, Evans said. She looked to kickstart the foot traffic in downtown Olyphant, and after talking with fellow business owners, Olyphant Third Thursdays was born. In the same vein as Scranton’s First Friday Art Walk, the monthly event sees downtown Olyphant stores, salons, bars, restaurants and others offer everything from food and drink specials to sidewalk sales, discounts and more. TheKimmy hosts a “sip and shop,” a la the old days in Evans’ basement.
There’s also live music during the event, and merchants sweep the sidewalks and beautify their surroundings to add to the atmosphere.
“It’s a really fun night, and we’ve got a positive response. People seem to love it,” she said. “We have all these great places down here, and if you give people a reason to come out and support, they will.”
Evans’ customers remain loyal to her, too, because they know they can always find something they will feel confident about. Evans stays up on trends and scours trade shows, fashion weeks and more to source the pieces in her shop. The store is known for its one-on-one styling from Evans and staff as well as its array of curvy and up-sizes (Evans does not to refer to these as “plus size”) to choose from. Before items hit the racks, Evans tries on every piece of clothing in her boutique. If it doesn’t fit or flatter her, she won’t carry it.
“I’m the face of my brand. … I’m a middle-aged mom and more the average body type than any model,” she said. “I want to carry the sizes that fit the majority of women. … We like to enjoy our lives (in NEPA). We like a pierogi here. (My customers) know they can come here and find something that they will look good in and feel good in.”
Evans feels not only love from her customers but also support from those around her. She has the best staff working with her to keep things running smoothly, and her parents have been instrumental in helping behind the scenes. Her best friend helps at the store, and her husband, Matthew, is theKimmy’s IT support. Even her sons come down to help unpack boxes or complete odd jobs in between football practice and school. It’s a family business, she said, and mostly, she hopes her sons see all their mom has accomplished and feel proud of her, as well as inspired to go after whatever they want in life, no matter what anyone thinks of it.
It’s the same message she has for anyone else looking to take a leap of faith.
“I never let myself dream this big. I never allowed myself to have a dream like this, and the only thing standing in my way was myself and my inner voice,” Evans said. “All I know right now is I’m having the time of my life. This is my dream. I’m living it.”
Gia Mazur is an award-winning staff writer and beauty obsessive who joined The Times-Tribune’s Lifestyles department in 2015. She’s a product enthusiast who can’t live without an eyelash curler. A proud Virgo, Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipstick in Pillow Talk is her go-to. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; 570-348-9127; @gmazurTT