When Amanda Hardenbergh was in college, she struggled with deciding on a major.
Her mom asked her what she really wanted to do with her life, if she could do anything.
“Education was an option, but honestly — I just wanted to work at Parisian,” she said, referring to the popular department store that had its heyday in the ’80s. “I had a love for shopping my entire life, and I dreamed of owning my own shop.”
She said at that moment, though, she picked what seemed like the sensible option: teaching.
“I loved being a teacher for 25 years,” Amanda Hardenbergh said.
But as she neared the end of that quarter-century-long career, COVID-19 happened, and like many other people, she had a little bit of space to think about doing something new. At the same time, she and her daughter-in-law, Madison, were sad about the loss of a boutique they both loved in their hometown of Chelsea, which led to an idea.
“I told Madison, ‘We just need to open a boutique or something.’ I didn’t realize at the time that that was her love as well,” Amanda said.
But it was, and Madison also had the space to consider it, being on furlough from her job in physical therapy sales.
“I absolutely loved my work, but I always felt like God had a different calling for me,” she said.
So the pair put their heads together and started dreaming. They spent the next three years reading books, doing research and calling other boutiques and asking questions.
Then this June — two weeks after Amanda retired from teaching P.E. at Forest Oaks Elementary — they opened Salt Clothing Co. at 1801 Doug Baker Blvd., Suite 113.
“It’s been a lot of fun. I’ve always loved clothes and loved people,” Madison said. “Our goal was we wanted something for everyone, for all ages to come in and find a piece
Amanda said she feels like they cover the spectrum of generations, since she and her daughter-in-law are about 30 years apart in age. They offer women’s clothing, shoes and jewelry along with gifts, candles and a small bridal section.
“People have said our store is very different from other stores, and that was our goal,” she said. “We wanted to offer some different things. We buy what we love, and if we both don’t love it, we don’t buy it.”
Both mother-in-law and daughter-in-law say they have a great relationship and trust each other’s opinions.
“I’m truly blessed with the best mother-in-law,” Madison said, noting that she and her husband, Nathan, have been together since they were eighth graders at Chelsea Middle School. “She’s been a part of my life for so much of my life. It’s something super special.”
Amanda said the whole family has been a part of Salt Clothing Co — her husband, Brian, and her son have both helped out a lot with the store’s launch.
“I bet they don’t want to ever see another shelf or rack to put together,” she joked.
But the dream has come to life decades after she first imagined it, and she said her favorite part is getting to be a part of people’s lives.
“We ask God just to bring to us who he wants to that day, to help us to make a difference in somebody’s life, not even particularly clothes-wise — we just want to be there for them and encourage them and let them know they’re beautiful,” she said. “If they buy something, that’s an extra blessing.”
Madison said the community has been kind and welcoming.
“We’ve had so much support from Chelsea folks but also met so many people in this area who have welcomed us with open arms,” she said. “We’re so excited to be here.”
Salt Clothing Co. is open 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Saturdays
For more information, visit their website at saltclothingco.co or find them on Facebook @saltclothingco.co or Instagram