Interview with a Vintage-Chic Businesswoman Pt. 1

March 23, 2017 1 Comment

Interview with a Vintage-Chic Businesswoman Pt. 1

Ten years after its humble start in the basement of Katy Miller's Maryland home, Primitive Beginnings launches a storefront on Main Street, Ellicott City.  

The PB marketing team met up with Katy while she was preparing her shop for its grand opening (March 31st 2017) and got to know a little more about her, the story behind her business, and plans for this year!

Primitive Beginnings new store Ellicott City clothing

Tell us a little about yourself!

Hey! I’m Katy. I have a master's degree in Occupational therapy, so in addition to running Primitive Beginnings, I work two days a week in a pediatric clinic. I work with children aged 3-18 years old on fine motor skills, strengthening, and coordination.  I am also a mother of three, Ella (age 10), Abby (age 8), and Drew (age 4). I have also been married to my husband, Mike, since 2004.

Tell us a little bit about your store! How long have you been in business, & what products do you sell?

Primitive Beginnings has been in business for 10 years. I started with painting canvas floorcloths.  Since I couldn’t afford to buy one, I figured that I could just make them myself, and then suddenly I found myself designing them for others. Selling floorcloths got me going to trade shows, in which I found other like-minded artists. I eventually gathered enough wares to open my online shop in September 2007. It kinda took off from there!

The name of the store, Primitive Beginnings, was designed to have a double meaning: "primitive" being that my store started out very simply, but also the idea that something old could be reinvented into something new again.

Primitive Beginnings new store Ellicott City Katy Miller Owner

What was your original vision for the store?

Retail is always evolving. If you start a business and get too comfortable you will fail.  When I began Primitive Beginnings, I targeted merchandise that had a primitive, worn aesthetic, rather than the upcycled funky flavor it is now.  When the Industrial trends came along, I loved the idea of re-purposing, and thought it fit great with my store model. But truthfully, I love mixing styles...I can’t stick to one thing! I was "primitive" to start, then “vintage country” and then these soon morphed into “industrial”. If I had to put a label on what I sell now, I'd call it “Industrial Architectural Salvage”.  Of course, I still have roots that are primitive, as I love using antiques to display my products.    

My goal has always been to create a unique shopping atmosphere. When you walk into Primitive Beginnings, I want you to feel at home, inspired, and have a little fun. Laugh at the snarky products, and reminisce over the vintage finds. I often have customers come back to the store, simply to see how I've moved things around from month to month. I love that aspect of retail, and think changing things up keeps customers interested in coming back.

Primitive Beginnings new store Ellicott City funny homeware

Primitive Beginnings new store Ellicott City funny notebook gift
Primitive Beginnings new store Ellicott City antiques

What is your favorite item in the store as of today?

I would probably say some of these children's journals that I carry.  These journals are made out of old kid's books.  An artist I found in Seattle takes discarded books and binds the hardcover with blank paper to make journals. But what's extra special is that the artist makes sure to preserve the integrity of the book by including the original library check out card and illustrations in the first few pages. A true Primitive Beginnings gem: something old and forgotten turned useful and reminiscent!  

These journals in a way are symbolic to what my business is all about: giving new life to something that once was forgotten.  What’s great about these journals (and what I look for in new products) is that they evoke an emotion.  A customer may remember the book as a child, so the journal becomes a connection to a memory rather than just an everyday item. 

Primitive Beginnings new store Ellicott City childrens notebooks gift
Primitive Beginnings new store Ellicott City childrens notebooks gift

Check back next week for Part 2!

1 Response


March 24, 2017

So happy that your dreams have come true!! It is one cool store!

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