Diaspora

Mother-daughter duo opens Katie Jodly boutique in Taunton with unique, in-house designs – Taunton Daily Gazette

TAUNTON — A mother-daughter team is tough to beat.
The new Katie Jodly boutique opened in October, adding a touch of color to the storefronts on Weir Street in Taunton, and the mother and daughter duo of Jodly Delia and Karm-Syndia Augustin are hoping their unique, handmade clothing will catch on with local shoppers.
Augustin, nicknamed Katie for the Katie in Katie Jodly, is co-owner and store manager, while Delia works behind the scenes to design and craft the signature line. Augustin says “90%” of the items on sale in the shop are custom-designed and handmade by mom, with some handmade items from Haitian and Taunton-area artisans.
“It’s a mother-daughter business,” says Augustin, who grew up in Haiti and moved to the United States at 16. “It started out with my mom. When I was younger, she always made my outfits. It was very, very weird that we would go to the store and purchase things.
“Whether it was casual things for me to wear around the house or a big celebration — Christmas, my birthday, Easter — she always made those outfits, and people would ask us ‘Where did you get this? Where did you buy this?’ because there was always some original touch to it.
“One of my fond memories was that I had a little dress that she made me and then she painted Winnie the Pooh on the front of it. Like, no one could buy that.”
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If you go back another generation, Katie Jodly could be considered something of a grandmother-mother-daughter business, dating back to her grandmother Syriene Delia.
“My grandmother was a seamstress and she taught my mom and all my aunts,” Augustin said. “My mom is the only one who turned it into a business.”
While Augustin had a budding interest in clothing design, her passion is working in entertainment.  
Augustin was an established businessperson prior to opening the boutique. She worked for many years in the entertainment industry in various roles and runs a pair of businesses: KS Dance Studio, 11 years in business in Hyde Park, and a just-opened second location in Taunton in a space adjacent to the store, and KS Entertainment, a production company specializing in “movies and video production, corporate videos and that kind of stuff.”
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Augustin recently directed and appears in a new movie by KS Entertainment entitled “A Heart on the Mend,” which is set to premiere later this year at the Strand Theatre in Dorchester. She describes the film as a “romantic drama” set locally and with filming locations including Boston, Randolph and Taunton. Delia helped with costume design for the project. 
Big events and red-carpet affairs being a regular part of the entertainment industry, Augustin carried on her childhood custom of wearing Delia’s designs as an adult. And over the years her one-of-a-kind outfits turned some heads and had people asking.
“As an adult, same thing, because I’m in the entertainment industry I attend a lot of red-carpet events, so she would make my outfits to go to these events, and people will always ask, ‘Where did you get this?’ And more and more we would have people asking about the outfits…
“I said, ‘We can turn this into a business. People actually want to wear what we are wearing.’ And that’s how we started.”
This month, the storefront window display is all green, for St. Patrick’s Day. It’s updated seasonally and the location at 44 Weir St., just off the Taunton Green, is hard to miss.
Inside, it’s a feast of color.
Augustin says the designs lean heavily in the direction of Caribbean and African, with a Haitian undercurrent running throughout most of the inventory. 
The store has a section devoted to traditional Haitian karabela dresses and shirts; the pieces come in shades of blue, with contrasting splashes of red, green, yellow and orange.  
“It’s a traditional Haitian fabric. So that’s, I would say, something my grandmother would’ve worn for a special event when she was young, and people still wear it today to represent Haiti. So, now what people are trying to do is wear it just casually, instead of at specific patriotic events.”  
The store also partners with artisans nearby and from afar, with various handmade items crafted in Haiti, and a line of greeting cards in French and Haitian Creole handmade locally by Venessa Azemar.  
And then there’s the djakout, a handbag of sorts for farmers with “Haiti” emblazoned on the front. Augustin says the traditional djakout is bigger than the one in the store, but is suitable for men or women for everyday use.   
“It’s what the farmer would carry around when they went to visit the garden,” Augustin said. “When I would go visit my grandfather he always had one and he always had mangos and oranges… and he would just open it and hand them out to the kids.”
But the main focus is the in-house designs under the Katie Jodly brand.
“Everything else is our own design,” Augustin said.  
And all pieces are customizable and can be reproduced in all colors and sizes.  
“How many times do you go to a store and you find something you like, but not in the color you like, or it’s something you would love if they removed something or added something. That is something we can do, we can customize it just for you.
“And we have some of the Caribbean looks, because we’re getting closer to spring and summer and people are always shopping to go on vacation. We go from casual, like for vacation, to as fancy as like going on a date, to a wedding.”  
The store also carries a line for kids, and Augustin says they are happy to design coordinated outfits for the family who likes to match.  
“It’s mostly inspired by what my mom used to make for me when I was a kid… you wanna have those poofy little dresses with the little lace,” Augustin said of the kids clothing line.
“So, very kid, but also very traditional.”
Katie Jodly is located at 44 Weir St. in Taunton, or online at www.katiejodly.com. For more, search Katie Jodly on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Taunton Daily Gazette staff writer Jon Haglof can be reached at jhaglof@tauntongazette.com. Support local journalism by purchasing a digital or print subscription to The Taunton Daily Gazette today.

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