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Welcome to Name Calling, where boutique owners around Boston share the story behind their shop's name.
Photo via A Sip of Style
A mint julep is arguably a Southern drink, so it's no surprise then that although its owners hail from Vermont, the regional boutique chain Mint Julep is grounded in principles of Southern hospitality. Its prim and trendy offerings cater to the collegiate and twenty-something set, with sweet Tracy Reese frocks on the rack with BB Dakota motorcycle jackets. Since 2004, Brooke Garber and Stephanie Nist have expanded the shop from Coolidge Corner to Harvard Square, as well as the Lower East Side and West Village in New York. We wanted to see if the name Mint Julep had any links to the refreshing cocktail, but what Stephanie shared is much more than a beverage—it's a lifestyle.
"It took us seven months from when we first started working on opening Mint Julep to actually open it! During the first few months we did a lot of traveling all over New England to meet with fellow business owners and mentors etc. Throughout the process we always had notebooks with us where we would keep all of our brainstorming notes. We used to always keep a running tab of potential "store names." We would just throw out anything that had meaning to us or that just sounded fresh and fun. It's been a while but I remember yelling out "Pretzel!" and "Tangerine!" Tangerine actually made it to the final round but of course we chose Mint Julep.
My dad is a dentist but loves candy! He used to always bring my sister and I back old fashioned candies and one candy he loved was the Mint Julep. It was a square shaped mint flavored taffy that came in a mint green wax paper wrapper. I loved them too and the image of the candy brought back a lot of great memories.
Brooke's father is from the South and she grew up with her grandparents drinking the cocktail mint julep. We kept coming back to the name as time went by since we really liked it and it actually had meaning to both of us. By April we had narrowed down our store colors which were going to be mint green and lilac. When we met with our graphic designer one of the first times to come up with our logo we had given her a handful of potential names for her to base some sketches on. She had done some research on the term and told us that mint was a symbol of hospitality. In addition, the Mint Julep is the official drink of the Kentucky Derby which also ties into Southern Hospitality. This knowledge sealed the deal for our name choice because our intention was to build our boutique based on the principles of Southern hospitality: welcoming everyone who walked in with warmth and kindness and providing them with a fun and respectful shopping environment.
Our Boston locations are smack dab in the middle of several college campuses so naturally we have some students paying with their parents (emergency only!) credit cards. Of course the name Mint Julep comes up on the credit card statement. We've had lots of parents over the years come into the stores while visiting their kids to tell us how relived they were when they found out that Mint Julep was a clothing boutique and NOT a bar! $200 charges bi-weekly at a bar is definitely not a comforting thought to parents!
Also, being located in urban areas we get a lot of tourists from Kentucky and the South who come into the shop excited about us being Southerners! For years we had to tell them that in fact we weren't from the South (Brooke and I both hail from Vermont) but our name was derived from the concept of Southern hospitality. However, three years ago Brooke married her husband who actually is from Louisville, Kentucky so our name finally came full circle."