Twisted Sisters Boutique

MARIETTA – Late in 2001, some chairs, sweaters and a few scarves helped sparked what is now the Twisted Sisters Boutique in Marietta, an eclectic collection of clothing, beads and accessories run by, as its name suggests, two sisters.

Co-owners Debbie Cline and Becky Pritchett, Marietta natives and four years apart, used to collaborate together at local art shows and festivals selling air chairs-which suspend from a single hook from the ceiling. They never thought they would some day own a retail store downtown where both regulars and tourists browse for purses, bracelets and colorful clothing.

Now almost 13 years later, the sibling duo is just continuing with business as usual, constantly looking for new trends to supply in the store while keeping close ties to the community.

“We both just wanted to do something for ourselves,” Pritchett said, as both her and her sister had retail and marketing jobs before, but had never ventured into the entrepreneurial side.

Pritchett said being in business with her sister can come with the same challenges that most siblings have between them, but that the dynamic has only made the business stronger.

“There’s sometimes a difference of opinion,” she said. “Sometimes we give each other that sister look, and we roll our eyes.”

Sibling rivalry, however, is not something that Pritchett and Cline get too caught up in when it comes to their livelihoods.

“We’re both here for the same reasons, and we trust each other completely because we’re sisters,” Pritchett said.

The Twisted Sisters Boutique opened in November 2001. Months earlier, the duo was traveling, going to popular summer and fall events like pumpkin shows and wine festivals to sell air chairs.

As winter approached and the weather became too cold for their typical vending locations, the pair decided to continue what they had started, and rented a 250-square-foot space in Putnam Commons.

“We had an air chair display, and sold Ecuadorian wool sweaters and these $4 stretchy bracelets we had picked up,” Pritchett said.

The sisters decided they needed more, and took inspiration from a fuzzy scarf Cline had been wearing. They found the supplier that sold the scarves and ordered a dozen to try to put in the store, worried about the risk of the merchandise not selling.

“Three days later, they were gone,” Pritchett said.

Some two dozen, four dozen and then eventually 100 were ordered, all successfully sold in little time at all. They eventually upgraded their retail space in Putnam Commons to a 350-square-foot area.

“That’s what got the word out,” Pritchett said. “It’s what boosted us, what told us ‘we can do this,’ so we started ordering more things…that’s really what set the fire under us.”

In just a few months, the duo had gone from selling at festivals, to a small space in Putnam Commons, before eventually moving downtown where the store sits on the intersection of Front and Butler streets.

“We try to keep stuff in stock that you can’t find at the mall,” Cline said.

The retail store stocks Fenton Glass beads and Trollbeads, a Danish company specializing in Italian glass, gold and silver jewelry, along with beauty items, clothing, jewelry and fun knick knacks. Twisted Sisters’ website also offers online catalog shopping for even more items not sold in store.

Cline and Pritchett both credit their savvy for retail to their family.

“We love to shop, and our dad was a shopper,” Cline said.

“We have a built-in retail gene,” Pritchett said.

Cline is focused on the marketing, advertising and website, and Pritchett handles the book-keeping, but they’re both at the shop together a lot of the time, along with a few other part-time employees.

“We work off each other. Sometimes her strong suits are not mine and vice versa,” Pritchett said. “I’m a people person and I’m hands-on, and sometimes she’s more behind the scenes.”

Staying competitive in an ever-changing retail market, the pair agreed, can be the most difficult part. The best part of being in business, however is the involvement in the community.

“We’ve made very dear friends that we wouldn’t have met otherwise,” Cline said.

It’s those friends, and interactions with people in the community that make it all worthwhile.

“We didn’t mean to open the retail store, it just happened,” Pritchett said. “One thing led to another, and here we are.”

The decision to be in retail came because both Cline and Pritchett had a shared interest in business and marketing, but Pritchett said that doing it all with her sister helped bring them the success they share today.

“I don’t know if I would have ever done this as just me,” Pritchett said. “I don’t think I would have been this successful.”