If you’ve stopped by the charming yellow house on Academy St. in Cary, chances are you’ve had the pleasure of meeting the smiling face of Kristin Gurganus. That fabulous yellow house is home to The Purple Polka Dot. And who is Kristin? Well, that is no short answer. Kristin is the is the founder, artistic director, buyer, marketing expert, stylist, interior design specialist, and all around amazing person at The Purple Polka Dot in Cary, NC. She’s the kind of person who makes you feel like you’ve known her forever, makes you wonder how in the world she does it all, and somehow manages to do it all with the sweetest, most contagious southern charm.
Did you know that The Purple Polka Dot has been around for 8 years? Not in the same way that it is now, but before it was a successful brick and mortar, a lucky few got their hands on exclusive Purple Polka Dot products. In the early days, Kristin spent many of her Saturdays at the flea market. A true artisan, she would make jewelry, signs, and items for home decor. This merchandise was peddled out to the flea market or as wholesale for small shops and boutiques in the area. Everywhere from Wilmington to Fayettville was originally home to The Purple Polka Dot. This connection to her craft, and to the boutique business was tremendously helpful when the time came for Kristin to open her own store.
That time came shortly after Kristin had her son. Maternity leave was coming to a close and it was almost time to return to her 9 to 5 job as an orthodontist assistant. “I loved working there! I was working with my hands and not sitting behind a desk. I was able to build relationships with patients. Relationships are huge!” Life had changed though. As a new mom and an artist with a passion, Kristin knew she couldn’t go back. “I knew I wouldn’t have time to do what I love.” Her husband supported her decision and the search for The Purple Polka Dot as we know it began!
“I just wish I could find a little house on the side of the road. That’s what I want,” Kristin remembers telling her mom, “Then we saw it!” Kristin and her husband were heading down Academy Street in Cary and she saw THE house. She was so certain it was the house of her Purple Polka Dot dreams that she got her husband to turn around so they could check it out.
At the time Kristin had absolutely nothing prepared for opening her brick and mortar business. Finding that house changed it all though. She worked night and day to piece together her business plan, figure out the finanaces, and made it happen. “I felt very confident, because I just knew. This is what I have always wanted to do, and I am doing it…I will find a way!”
Today, The Purple Polka Dot is a warm and welcoming boutique in Downtown Cary filled with the latest trends in fashion and home decor. The product is unique and the people are amazing. You will always walk in the door and feel comfortable. All of the girls in the shop focus on the importance of relationships and good old fashioned kindness. They always deliver on their slogan, “where fancy meets fabulous” in product and the complete customer experience.
Kristin still makes about 60-70% of the home decor and artistic pieces and has no intentions of slowing down. “I absolutely do not want to be behind the counter. I want to be making and creating. I want to make this store different and unique. If I’m making it…
this is the only place you can buy it.” When she’s not at the store, you can often find Kristin at home, covered in paint, while simultaneously taking care of her two little ones. “Sometimes you have to just sit on the couch and eat cereal with your toddler for a few minutes, and you can figure the rest out later.”
Years ago, a teacher chastised Kristin Gurganus of The Purple Polka Dot for doodling all over her notebook. “That is never going to make you any money.” the teacher said. Not only is Kristin making money from her “doodles” and creations, but she is an entrepreneur, successful businesswoman, and artist.
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Special thanks to Shannon Haynie Photography and The Purple Polka Dot for all images included in this post.