The trauma of divorce can lead people down a number of different paths, but for former preschool teacher Louise Alfredson, the breakup of her marriage inspired a previously unrealized entrepreneurial spirit.
“Saying ‘The Lord’s Prayer’ and the phrase ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ kept me centered through the rough patches,” she says. “They quickly became part of my daily routine.”
From that simple routine, an idea was born. Combining her confidence-building mantra with a nod to her two UNC graduate sons, Alfredson decided to launch a T-shirt line — Keep Calm and Carolina On.
Last year, she began producing T-shirts emblazoned with the slogan and a choice of crown or North Carolina map. To further drive home the N.C. pride message, Alfredson partnered with Raleigh-based N.C. Tees to print the shirts.
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“I’m a big believer in the ‘Shop Local’ movement,” she says. “I sought out a Raleigh printer where I connected with the owner and employees, who patiently answered my myriad of questions, helped me find the highest quality tees and produced great looking shirts at a fair price.”
Initially only selling the shirts via her website, keepcalmandcarolinaon.com, Alfredson started participating in local pop-up markets and found placement in Rita’s of Raleigh, Lynn’s and Daphne’s Hallmark shops and the N.C. Museum of History gift shop.
“I love forging partnerships with the business owners and buyers,” she says. “There’s a long lead time between that first call or drop-in, but establishing long-term relationships helps me grow the business.”
Alfredson hopes to get picked up in more stores, and she has plans to expand the line to include more N.C.-inspired designs.
And though born of one of the most difficult times in her life, the business has allowed Alfredson to grow in ways she never thought possible.
“Starting Keep Calm, with the message of hope and resilience at its very core, has given me more opportunities and new skills than I’d ever imagined,” she says. “And that’s a pretty happy ending!”
Raleigh Boutique Warehouse Sale
Nearly a dozen local boutiques will join forces for the Raleigh Boutique Warehouse Sale, June 24, noon-5 p.m. at 1053 E. Whitaker Mill Road, Raleigh. Shoppers can score deals on clothing and accessories marked 20 to 80 percent off from Halie’s Boutique, Marie & Marcele Boutique, Monroe.26, Moon and Lola, Paisley Boutique, Peachy Keen, Scout & Molly’s, Shop Swagger, StyleFinder Boutique, The Pink Pearl and Voda Boutique.
Advance tickets are $5 for general admission and $15 for VIP, which includes a drink and reusable tote filled with swag and coupons. General admission tickets also are available at the door for $7. For more info, visit thepeachykeen.com/pages/raleigh-boutique-warehouse-sale.
Brow Services at Dress
Shoppers at Dress designer resale boutique can now get their brows shaped while shopping for deals on brand-name duds. The store has partnered with The Beauty Lane to offer brow waxing services in both locations. Services are available at the Wade Avenue store every third Thursday, noon-7 p.m. and every first Friday at Six Forks from noon-6 p.m. To learn more, call 919-699-6505 (Wade Avenue) or 919-945-4997 (Six Forks).