The Beaufort Bonnet Company

The Beaufort Bonnet Company

is everywhere lately! This adorable line of children's accessories is just perfect for the teensiest fashion mavens in your life. I'm just in love with the bonnets, bowties, and bloomers -- many of which can be monogrammed. I keep hoping a friend or relative will have a baby soon so that I can buy all the Beaufort Bonnets!

I recently caught up with Markey Hart Hutchinson, the Lexington lady behind The Beaufort Bonnet Company. She's smart and fun, with a great eye for fun design. Markey's great attitude certainly shines through in her company's designs! -- HCW

A few questions with Markey:

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m from Lexington. I graduated from Sewanee (The University of the South) in Tennessee. I’m 32. I have two funny, smart, and wonderful children, my son Wakefield, who's 3, and Betsey, who's 1 1/2. My husband is a patient man and a great father. I like laughing, nice people, and all things that make my eyes smile. Colors and ‘pretty’ influence my mood; style and design have always been a passion.

How did The Beaufort Bonnet Company come to be?

A Mother Daughter Team started Susu and John in Beaufort, South Carolina around 2007-2009ish. The Beaufort Bonnet, made from an old heirloom pattern, was their star item and the reason they went into business. When I was pregnant and seeing the world through pink-colored glasses, I spotted a picture of a friend’s baby wearing a pink gingham bonnet while perusing Facebook. I asked where she got the little gem; I just knew Betsey would want a bonnet! My friend ended up gifting us one and it was love at first sight. Betsey wore her bonnet everywhere and people went bananas over it. Strangers and friends were asking where to get one. After studying the Susu and John website I noticed they didn’t have any retail accounts in Kentucky. I thought, I’m already selling these bonnets- I might as well get paid for it. I contacted the owner and asked if I could have the exclusive rights to sell them in Kentucky- a few emails later I found myself negotiating a price to buy her business. I gave the company a new name and logo and hit the ground running.

 I see a lot of traditional Southern style in your products, with some Lilly Pulitzer-style preppy mixed in. What are your inspirations for The Beaufort Bonnet Company's products?

Great observation! TBBC style is a reflection of my style. I like all things classic, timeless and refined- but I also like colorful, fun, and clever. My inspirations demonstrate that ‘refined’ doesn’t have to mean ‘boring’. Lilly Pulitzer, Dorothy Draper, and Carleton Varney mastered the art of pairing classic pieces with bold elements & bright colors to make things interesting. I want babies and children wearing TBBC items to provoke smiles (followed by compliments and conversation) - I love the idea of being partly responsible for someone’s smile.

 Here at HerKentucky, we love to support Kentucky's women-owned businesses. What advice do you have for women who want to start their own business?

I regret I’m not qualified to hand out advice. The Beaufort Bonnet Company is 4 months old; I’m still craving advice, suggestions, and wisdom. Ask me again when I recover my investment and start sleeping ;-)

What do you wish someone had told you before you started The Beaufort Bonnet Company?

I wish

someone had told me I was going to make mistakes- and that some mistakes were going to be expensive. Mistakes involving trust and dependability sting the most. The good thing is, I’m a fast learner.

Now for a few fun questions:

Coffee or Tea?

I’m way too complicated to answer this question. I drink coffee every morning but it’s really not my cup of tea- ha- do you get it?

Bourbon or Beer?

Cold BEER. In a bottle. But a cup or can is fine too.

Jeans or a Skirt?


Cats or Cards?

C.A.T.S cats cats cats!!

What's your favorite spot in Lexington?

My favorite spot(s) in Lexington are… Greenbrier’s pool, 3rd Floor Main at Keeneland, the house where I grew up, Wheelers, Suggins, Merrick, Rupp Arena when the Cats are playing, Gate 11 for tailgating, Monkees, L.V. Harkness, and the Chinoe Pub. Hmm, I bet there aren’t many people who have used L.V. Harkness and Chinoe Pub in the same sentence… I guess that’s me in a nutshell.

If The Beaufort Bonnet Company products are on your Holiday Wish List, you can find them at these Kentucky stores:

L.V. Harkness and Co

.: 531 W. Short St., Lexington (They even do registries for expectant mamas!)


: 120 Clay Ave., Lexington

Nancy's Place

: 133 West Main St., Springfield

Kids Stuff

: 300 North Mayo Trail Suite 3,  Pikeville

Lad n' Lassie

: 188 West Court St., Prestonsburg

HerKentucky Business: Lydia Powell Bookkeeping

The HerKentucky team is thrilled to present HerKentucky Business, a monthly spotlight on female entrepreneurs in the Bluegrass State. 

Just as Emily did in March, I'm here to talk to you about a new business I launched this year - Lydia Powell Bookkeeping. It seems a bit odd to conduct a self-interview, but I wanted to share my story in the hopes it might inspire other Kentuckians to find their way in business. Thanks to Heather and the other HerKentucky women for allowing me this space!



Lydia Powell holds a degree in accounting from Transylvania University and has 10+ years of experience in accounting and auditing. She's worked with non-profit organzations, governmental entities, small businesses and been employed by major manufacturing enterprises in Kentucky.

1. Are you a native Kentuckian? Why have a Kentucky business? 

I am a native Kentuckian and very proud of it! Kentucky is my history and my home. When faced with the potential relocation of my job, my husband and I had some difficult decisions to make. We cast about, testing out the dream of living abroad. When we decided that wasn't exactly what we wanted, we briefly reconsidered pursuing relocation with my job or making a major relocation to a different area of the United States.

In the end, we decided that Kentucky was our home and held our future. Our family and many of our friends are in Kentucky. Our support systems are here. The cost of living is definitely right! Honestly, while I enjoyed the thought of moving to far off lands, I couldn't quite wrap my head around what it might be like to live somewhere else!

When we decided to remain in central Kentucky, I decided to start my own freelance bookkeeping company. Not only can I take full advantage of my education and career experience, I'm also passionate about helping other small businesses succeed - in Kentucky and beyond. 

I'm of the mind that we should enjoy what we do and do it well. I enjoy the organization and analysis aspects of finance, and I want to help business owners get out from behind their computer screens, struggling with their books and back to what they enjoy and do well! 

2. Many younger people say they can't find many corporate-type jobs in Kentucky, so they leave the state. What was your experience?

My experience has been extremely positive! Other than a brief stint in state government during and just after graduation, I've been employed by Kentucky businesses in corporate-type jobs. 

When I was in high school and even college, the trend was for young people to move out of state as soon as they could. I think that trend is reversing or, at least, changing. With impressive improvements in our state university systems and a cost of living that remains below the national average, I think young people are realizing that Kentucky is a hidden gem. I know lots of young people, just like our own Sarah Stewart Holland, who ventured to larger markets to begin their careers but moved back to Kentucky to begin their family and continue their careers.

3. What was the hardest part of starting a new business?  What do you wish someone had told you before you started Lydia Powell Bookkeeping?

While I can often be cautious with new adventures, when I get an idea in my head that I'm passionate about, I tend to jump in head first with eyes closed tight! The hardest part of starting my new business has been making myself go slow, make plans and strategies for the long run and implementing those in a methodical way. I hope that this planning and considered action will set me up for success in the long run!

Luckily, I have a strong business education and background, so I feel like I may be better suited to navigate the confusing and complicated waters of starting a business. I think other entreprenuers may have a great idea but not a great foundation regarding how to get that idea turned into an operating and profitable business. I highly recommend the resources of the Small Business Administration, the Kentucky One Stop Business Portal and the Kentucky Secretary of State's Office. I urge other new business owners to go through the exercise of creating a business plan - even if no one but you ever sees it, sitting down to write out a plan makes you think!

4. What is the most rewarding part of entrepreneurship/small business ownership?

I've only been in operation for about a month. So far, though, nothing I've done for my business has felt like "work." You know that Sunday-night-dreading-Monday-morning feeling? I don't have that when I think about the tasks I need to accomplish for my business. I've also met some amazingly inspiring and encouraging people. When I announced my new business venture, I never expected the support I've received from friends and strangers alike. It's awesome to know that other people want to help you succeed.

5. What suggestions do you have for women who want to start their own business?

Believe in yourself or fake it until you make it! 

Go outside your comfort zone. I hate to do it, too, but it's good for you. I've met potential clients I'd never met before for coffee, I've called people I don't know on the phone - both things I normally hate to do, but that were so rewarding!

Seek out and network with other women in business. I've been lucky enough to have a supportive group of women to turn to when I need reassurance and to ask practical questions of. Basically, we inspire and support one another and it's wonderful. If you don't know where to find a group like that, ask at your local Chamber of Commerce if they have a women's group, check out Femfessionals to find a local chapter (Lexington has one!) or join and participate with a group on sites like LinkedIn.

And now: the quick-fire round!

1. Bourbon or martinis? Ack! I'm a beer girl - the craftier the better.
2. One dream you still want to reach?  I really want to visit Ireland with my mom someday.
3. Favorite Lexington restaurant? I'm a new Table 310 convert, but really want to try out the food at The Village Idiot (the beer selection is great). I can't wait for 21C to open a new hotel and restaurant in Lexington, as well!
4. Favorite way to spend a Friday night. My 22-year old self would be so embarrassed, but now I love a good Friday night at home with pizza and beer, some popcorn, a good movie and my husband and the dog on the sofa.

HerKentucky Business: Rebirth Recycling

Tina Rodgers is a mom, a musician and a small business owner. We're pleased to feature her in today's HerKentucky Business feature. Tina's designs are funky, chic and ecologically responsible. Check out her online shop or make a trip to downtown Frankfort to see her designs in person!


my shop is located at 235 West Main Street Frankfort, Ky.

When did you start your small business? 

October 2010

What are your specialties?  

I take discarded textiles/materials and "upcycle"/ rework them into new fashions predominantly women's wrap skirts and dresses.

Have you had formal training in your craft, are you self-taught? 

I am self taught.  "Necessity is the mother of invention."

From where does your inspiration come? 

I have always been resourceful and feel that we can take whatever is in front of us and create something new.  My first skirt came after my dad's passing... I took some shirts  that we hadn't donated and didn't want to just have in the back of the closet...from those shirts I made a skirt.  It was very cathartic and became a living tribute/keepsake.  From that experience my clothing has evolved into what it is today.

What is your favorite part of owning a small craft business in Kentucky?

I love the freedom to take what others don't want and designing a new life for it.  I also enjoy meeting so many wonderful people.  In my online shop I have sold nationally/ internationally and forged some great friendships through these exchanges. Locally, I have met people in my own town that I might never have met otherwise and have enjoyed getting to know them immensely.  The friendships and feeling of that old world ethic that the customer/client is valued above all else is also a great source of fondness for me.

What makes your products unique? 

I think my product is unique in that I am an intuitive designer.  My degree is in Music.  When you are trained in something it can be hard to maintain a passion overtime.  You censor yourself and don't venture into trusting your instincts completely.  With my designs of a resourceful nature, the intuitive process of meeting someone and custom making a skirt or dress for them creates new textures and color schemes I would never have thought of on my is a "living" process..wearable art.  Each is unique like a fingerprint although my structures are of a simple, minimalist nature.

I love Tina's work and intend to stop by her shop soon. In the meantime, I've been perusing her Etsy collection and picked some definite favorites (UK themed, of course)! I was also happy to learn that Tina loves doing custom work and offers all sizes. 

HerKentucky Business: Mellen Designs

Today, we're so excited to spotlight Mary Ellen Harden of Mellen Designs as our July HerKentucky Businesswoman.  Mary Ellen's whimsical, iconic cards and gifts have a distinctively "Lexington" feel, with vibrant drawings of local landmarks, horsey themes, and bright colors.  I first noticed Mary Ellen's work when she designed a custom character for Junior League of Lexington's Holly Day Market. Since then, I've found myself absolutely smitten with her work.  The KY Lady Flat cards are just calling my name (juleps, horseshoes and silks? Yes, please!) and I'm simply obsessed with the Map Cards, the cutest and most unique way to tell a couple's story on a save-the date! -- HCW

Mary Ellen Harden is committed to providing the South's spunkiest, most sophisticated line of cards and gifts. Born in Lexington, Kentucky and graduate of the University of Kentucky Harden is most proud of her local success. Awarded a Trendy Finalist at the National Stationery Show in 2011 is one of the company's greatest achievements. The Mellen line includes greeting cards, invitations, correspondence card sets, gift items, and custom illustration for weddings and large celebrations. Harden says, "The opportunity to give customers exactly what they imagined, or sometimes, better than they imagined makes this very fulfilling work!"

Mary Ellen graciously agreed to answer our questions starting her business and about life in Lexington.  We were thrilled to find that she's as lovely as her artwork!

Have you always lived in Kentucky? 
Yes, I have always lived in Lexington. I went to SCAPA for elementary and middle school and graduated from Lafayette High School.
When did you start drawing/ designing? 
Mellen Designs Horse Shoe Tray
I was always crafting something! I was a young aunt in 6th grade and my sister decorated my neice's room in Winnie the Pooh, I did a series of colored pencil drawings based on the Winnie the Pooh series for the baby's room. I guess I consider this my first large project! I worked at Peggy's Gifts on Clay Avenue in college and she was kind enough to use my art for custom order requests, etc. This was when I produced my first simple line of cards and created custom invitations. I can't remember when I first picked up a marker, but I do remember visiting Disney World in the third grade with my family and walking through MGM studios when artist were still sitting over desks drawing characters for the films. It hit me that I would really enjoy a career where I could do the same.
What made you decide to start your own business?
Save the Date map cards
I was very fortunate to find a job out of college at a successful greeting card company. This gave me the opportunity to learn the industry and build my skills. The owners pushed me to start my own line on the side, so January 2008, only a semester out of school, I opened Mellen Designs. I have always had a goal of owning a stationery business, I just thought it would occur much farther in the future.  
What do you wish someone had told you before you started MEllen Designs?
That there are a LOT of stationery companies out there! Just a joke, but it does raise the topic of comparison and competition. My business model is to do my best, and stand out as myself - not to worry about the "others." I find as a woman and in my business, comparison sneaks up. Although watching industry trends is very important, comparison can make you lose sight of yourself!

What advice do you have for women who want to start their own business?
 I believe that if you are doing what you love and cannot imagine yourself doing anything different you will achieve success. It is very hard work, not to be brushed over, but if your heart is in it, the hard work is so very fulfilling.
Mary Ellen also answered a few fun get-to-know-you questions for us:
What is your favorite drink?
I hold dearest my morning coffee with a bit of milk and sweetener, but more exciting is an ice cold beer on a hot day at the lake!
What is your favorite spot in Lexington?
I'll have to name a few - Merrick Inn for a celebratory dinner with my husband, the Arboretum for a run with my dog, Keeneland with friends, Old Cassidy Ave. where we are moving in a week, UK campus which brings back so many great memories, Graeter's Ice Cream Parlor with a black raspberry chocolate chip ice cream cone in hand!
Jeans or a skirt?  
Definitely skirt! I can't ever get jeans to fit me right, I'm short!
Cats or Cards?  
Cats - always! We named our sweet beagle puppy, Cali after Coach Cal.
Summer or Winter? 
Summer! Hot summer days lift my spirits and bring inspiration - of course, it's always harder to get to work in the summer!

 For more Mellen, visit the company website and blog, or follow Mellen on Twitter and Facebook. For the remainder of July, Mary Ellen is running a 10% off offer for all online orders.

HerKentucky Business: The Crushed Violet

The HerKentucky team is thrilled to present HerKentucky Business, a monthly spotlight on female entrepreneurs in the Bluegrass State. As soon as we started writing this spotlight, I instantly knew I wanted to interview Erin Miller, owner of The Crushed Violet, a ridiculously adorable fragrance boutique located in downtown Lexington.

1. Before being a fragrance maven, what did you do? What led you to opening your boutique?
Even though The Crushed Violet was in the back of my mind for ten years before it came to fruition, what I did prior to opening helped give me that final push. My brother bought a campground in Versailles—Camp on the Kentucky—and asked me to be involved in opening and running of it. That process showed me it's difficult, but not impossible, to open your own business. The amount of fun I had working with my brother and sister-in-law showed me how rewarding it can be.

2. Why did you choose to locate your business in downtown Lexington?
Downtown is equal parts quirk and swank. I always knew it was just right for what I wanted to do. Church Street is centrally located and yet feels tucked away at the same time. I love it.

3. What's the hardest part about being a business owner? 
Time constraints. Not having much of a social life. Not having time to cook and bake from scratch like I used to. Luckily, my husband is very patient and a wonderful cook. And if time constraint is my biggest complaint, I really can’t complain. Who doesn’t have that problem?

4. What's the best part about being a business owner?
I'm living my dream. I am very aware of that and grateful for it everyday.

5. What advice would you give to Kentucky women wanting to start their own business? I feel strange giving advice at this point because The Crushed Violet is still new, but if you have a real passion for what you’re doing, people recognize that. So as cliché as it sounds, make sure you love what you’re getting into, because you will be consumed by it. My business hours might be eleven to six, but it's a twenty-four hour gig.

6. How does someone find their signature fragrance? Come see me! Fragrance is subjective, like any art. Every person is different and has a different process. I’m here as a guide through that process, whatever it may be for you. If you want a basic starting point, check out the fragrance wheel from Michael Edwards on The Crushed Violet's website.

7. What do you see next on the horizon for The Crushed Violet? World fragrance domination? Ha! World fragrance domination. I like it—I've managed to conquer Twitter, so who knows? But it’s probably a little less intense than domination. I'll simply continue to provide the best personal service I can while adding more fragrances to The Crushed Violet as time and budget allow. I do have a couple of other additions to the shop up my sleeve and have been working on them for several months now, but I don’t want to jinx anything…here’s hoping!

And now: the quick-fire round!

1. Bourbon or martinis? Bourbon neat, martini dry.
2. One dream you still want to reach? Traveling with my husband to all our dream destinations.
3. Favorite Lexington restaurant? I’d have to say A la lucie, but Lexington has a crazy amount of great restaurants for its size. I also love Stella’s and Sugano and about ten others.
4. Favorite way to spend a Friday night. Curled up on the couch with my husband and our dog, watching a movie, having some drinks and being judged by our cats.

Thanks so much Erin for answering our questions! Find The Crushed Volet on Facebook, Twitter, and in person at 131 Church Street in downtown Lexington.

HerKentucky Business: Authentically Social

The HerKentucky team is thrilled to present HerKentucky Business, a monthly spotlight on female entrepreneurs in the Bluegrass State. In this edition, I answer questions about the business I recently launched, Authentically Social

My "official" third person bio: Emily is a marketer with over eight years of corporate marketing, brand management, communications, and social media experience. Whether through traditional marketing, social media management, email marketing, or writing, her passion is connecting great brands with fans. Emily lives in Lexington, KY and holds a MBA in Marketing and BA in Advertising from the University of Kentucky.
1. Are you a native Kentuckian? Why have a Kentucky business?
I am not a native Kentuckian, but moved here when I was thirteen. It took about twenty years of being here to stop being so stubborn about how awesome this state is. The quality of life is great, people are friendly, and the cost of living is low. Having a Kentucky business means my costs to operate aren't exorbitant and I can provide great value to companies particularly from out-of-state who might not be able to explore social media marketing with agencies in their particular markets.

2. Many younger people say they can't find many corporate-type jobs in Kentucky, so they leave the state. What was your experience?

I will admit that I was one of those people who said that as soon as college was done, I'd go to a larger city like Chicago or New York City so I could find work with some awesome company and become a big-shot city girl. No idea where those idealistic visions came from, but I'm glad that I met a Kentucky boy who didn't want to give up his roots here. I've worked for several Kentucky companies doing brand marketing and working on projects that I didn't realize existed here until I looked. There are amazing companies doing amazing things all across the state. The companies have contributed to my ability to be able to start a business, and thrive here in the Commonwealth.

3. What was the hardest part of starting a new business?  What do you wish someone had told you before you started Authentically Social?
Honestly, the hardest part was telling myself I could do it. There wasn't anything overly logistical that held me up, it was all self-doubt. Could I find clients? Would people help me spread the word? Would I fail miserably and have to crawl back to a corporate desk job? I never though I'd leave the comfort of the corporate office, and then it became all consuming. I built my business up on nights and weekends. While that was what I needed to do to get some courage up, I would suggest that others not wait so long (and not tire yourself out)! Be confident in your abilities, and take the leap.

4. What is the most rewarding part of entrepreneurship/small business ownership?
I'm still pretty new at it, but what has been most exciting so far is the response that others in the community have given me, and the enthusiastic reception I've gotten from prospects (now clients). To know you built something based on your hard work is incredibly rewarding --  of course monetarily, but more so emotionally.

5. What suggestions do you have for women who want to start their own business?
Meet with other women business owners: take them out for coffee or lunch and ask them about their experiences. I did this with someone I didn't know from Junior League and it was so refreshing to be able to hear about her experience. It then made me more confident to approach others and ask about their experiences, and now I have a little network of women supporters that I can turn to when needed.

Also, if you are unsure about a functional area of your business (for me it was legal contracts and accounting), call in professionals. You don't have to know how to do everything, so focus on what you are good at, and have others help you with the rest.

Logistically, the Kentucky Secretary of State office has lots of resources on how to search for a company name and file your business structure.

HerKentucky Business: Carolyn Gilles

The HerKentucky team is thrilled to present HerKentucky Business, a monthly spotlight on female entrepreneurs in the Bluegrass State.  I recently sat down with Carolyn Gilles of Bourbon and Beans and The Wholesome Chef to talk about business, the Bluegrass, bourbon and beans

Carolyn, a Kentucky native, recently moved to Lexington after spending several years in New York City, where she earned degrees from both the Natural Gourmet Institute for Health and Culinary Arts and The New School .  She founded Bourbon & Beans, a full-service marketing, strategy and design firm targeting small businesses and non-profits.  In her "spare time", Carolyn is a cooking instructor and owner of  The Wholesome Chef, and is an MBA candidate. In addition to being smart, ambitious and insightful, Carolyn is extremely warm and gracious.  She provided wonderful advice for prospective Kentucky businesswomen, as she answered HerKentucky's questions, as well as the delightful interview questions that she asks clients on  Bourbon and Beans' own blog. -- HCW

HerKentucky Q&A:

1. What brought you back to Kentucky from NYC?
The promise of a washer, dryer and a porch to sit on. No, really. These three things had me extremely nostalgic for my home state. Once the homesickness really set in, I had convinced my native New Yorker boyfriend that he needed these three things, too. So he applied to UK Med School and the rest is history. And there's not a laundry day that goes by that I'm not grateful that I don't have to clean my dirties out in public.

2. What is the most rewarding part of entrepreneurship/small business ownership?
Flexible schedule and the riddance of silly rules that come with larger companies! I'm a pretty tough boss on myself, but I also seriously enjoy the freedom to "make it happen" on my own time. Also, my heart warms each time I walk into my office. It's work, but it's got my personality all over it. No cubicles or TPS reports here!

3. What was the hardest part of starting a new business?  What do you wish someone had told you before you started Bourbon & Beans? wasn't "hard" per se because I knew what I was getting myself rose colored glasses. I knew I'd be doing it all myself and that that is very demanding. That being said, the hardest part of starting a new business is losing time to socialize with friends. My top priorities are my businesses and my relationship with my boyfriend. Once those are met, I have very little time for meeting up with friends and that's tough.

4. What suggestions do you have for women (particularly locally) who want to start their own business?
Add a good housekeeper to your a network/support system to help you with all facets of your life. You can't do it all.

5. How has your personal business path allowed you to combine your interests in good food and business marketing?
I believe that work should not be a place you go to everyday to make money, but rather an action you do everyday that expresses your passions and goals in life that fortunately pays your bills. I'm passionate about working with entrepreneurs (Bourbon & Beans) and I'm passionate about helping people learn to cook and eat better (The Wholesome Chef). I wouldn't have it any other way!

Photo courtesy Megan Hile Photography
Bourbon & Beans Questionnaire:
Name: Carolyn Gilles
Location: Lexington, KY
Occupation: Chef Instructor, Small Business Consultant
Approximate Age: 31

Favorite bourbon? Basil Hayden's

Favorite bean - why? Garbanzo (aka ChickPea). It's awesome prepared in so many different ways!

Were you born in Kentucky? I sure was. Daviess County Hospital.

Do you consider yourself to be sassy? When I need to be ;)

What type of cuisine influences you most? Farm to Table.

What’s your all-time favorite food? The potato. Any which way.

What’s your current favorite food? Raw celery and carrots.

What food do you dislike? Sweet potatoes. I'll eat 'em, but I don't love 'em.

Do you have professional culinary training? Indeed, I do!

Who do you cook for? My students and my boyfriend.

What is/was your favorite cooking job? Chef/Owner at The Wholesome Chef by far!

Can you share one of your cooking secrets with us? Keep it simple. Bake it, sautee it, steam it and add garlic, salt and olive oil.