Johnnie Q: Brooklyn Byrd

Growing up Brooklyn Byrd watched her parents whisk out the door each weekend in fancy gowns and dark tuxedoes. The ballroom dancing pair first inspired Byrd’s love for dressing up, one that didn’t fade as she grew older. Today, she wears Liquid Metal and Ben Amun instead of Barbie dresses and plastic heels.

“I laugh about my childhood,” Byrd said. “I just love playing dress up. I wake up each morning and ask: ‘what kind of theme do I want today?’”

The boutique owner wanted a store where shoppers could find an item that would be more than just an accessory – a conversation piece.

“One of my favorite designers is Suzanna Dai. She hand-beads all of her pieces, which are inspired by places she travels,” Byrd said.

Since Johnnie Q opened its doors in October 2010 it has carried a wide selection of designer jewelry and hand-made statement pieces that can’t be found anywhere else in the region. Eventually, Byrd hopes to expand the space into a showroom that features clothing, shoes and men’s jewelry.

“I went to shows so I knew I wanted House of Harlow and C.C. Skye, but I could never find them around here,” Byrd said. “I kinda just went after them and thank God they responded.”

Walking into Johnnie Q is almost like time traveling back to the 1940s. Byrd has decorated the boutique to a tee, using Victorian-style furnishings to give the shop a dollhouse feel. It is not uncommon for bird accents and cages to line the shelves of the shop.

“I named the shop after my grandparents, who are in the little frames around the store,” Byrd said. “My grandma was Johnnie Floriene and David Quitman was my grandpa, so he is the Q.”

Byrd graduated from O’More College of Design in May 2009 with a degree in fashion design and merchandising. With business as her forte, she knew she wanted a store of her own.

“O’More has been extremely helpful,” Byrd said. “They stay in touch and are a good resource. Jamie Atlas [fashion design department chair] helped me with my business plan. They are really good about giving you a little push.”

To learn about Johnnie Q, visit them at their store or go to www.johnnieq.net. Store hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 1-5 p.m. on Sundays.