SPENCER – Candis Newton attributes her fashion sense to her sisters.
âI’m 10 years younger than my sisters,â Newton said. “So they treated me like a Barbie doll.”
This meant dressing her up in whatever extravagant outfit they could whip up. Even when Newton was old enough to pick out her own clothes, she usually chose outfits that stood out from the crowd.
âGrowing up, everyone always said I dressed like Hannah Montana,â Newton said. âI always wore weird stuff. My mom always told me that I could put on the ugliest thing and put it on and make it pretty. I’ve always had this knack for dressing awkwardly, but it ends up working out.
Despite his propensity to create eye-catching ensembles, Newton did not pursue a career related to clothing. At least, not before the pandemic suddenly changes its course. Today, Newton is the owner of Southern Roots Clothing. The store, located in Park Plaza near Spencer’s new municipal complex, opened to the public on November 13.
Being a business owner was not in Newton’s plans when she graduated from East Rowan High School in 2016 and enrolled in Wingate. There she studied elementary education before returning home to Rowan County to raise her children. Newton got a position as Store Manager at Sprint before moving to the same position for a T-Mobile store in Kannapolis.
This is where the 23-year-old was working when the pandemic began.
âThey closed my store, which forced me to stay home,â Newton said.
Around the same time, Newton and her husband, Kenneth, were granted custody of their niece and nephew. With four dependent children, Newton began to consider a career change that would allow him to be home more often.
Newton didn’t understand what that change would be until his mother asked him to make a Kiss shirt. After finishing the shirt – a tie-dyed t-shirt with the rock band’s painted faces in the middle – Newton posted a photo of it on his Facebook page.
âIt kind of blew up,â Newton said.
Newton began to design more clothes to sell to interested online shoppers. Eventually, she started making children’s clothes with bright patterns and seasonal patterns. She tapped into an underserved market by offering boys’ clothes and matching sets for siblings.
âIt’s super hard to find stuff for men and little boys,â Newton said. âI realized that because my son, who is now 2 years old, was born, it was so difficult for me to find high-end clothes for him. I wanted to start with myself just to see what I can do and see if people would be interested, because all mom boys have the same problem – they can’t find the cute clothes they want.
The children’s clothing line has taken the company to new heights. Newton began showing and selling his designs in a Facebook group that now has over 2,000 people. To further spread his brand, Newton added children’s clothing ârepresentativesâ who model outfits on social media. Each representative, all under the age of 10, receives outfits to wear and a discount code to distribute to friends and family.
âIt definitely helped a ton,â Newton said. âIt makes me feel good to see all the excited little kids in their clothes. It’s nice to see someone excited to wear something you’ve chosen.
One of the current representatives of Southern Roots is Reestyn Poplin, 5, who started modeling the clothes for the store a few months ago. Her mother, Regina, takes pictures of Reestyn in the clothes and posts them on Facebook.
âReestyn loves clothes and if she gets a chance to be sassy she grabs it,â Regina said.
The popularity of the children’s clothing line inspired Newton to open a physical location to accompany his online business. His views fell on Spencer and Park Plaza, a former mall that recently underwent a renovation to accommodate the city’s municipal offices. Newton was drawn to the large parking lot in front of the store, but she was also excited to be a part of something new.
âI’m happy to be at Spencer,â Newton said. “I had looked in Salisbury and I had looked in Mocksville, but Spencer needed something.”
Newton is one of the few businesses open at Park Plaza. She thinks she won’t be the last.
âIt turned out a lot better than I expected,â Newton said. âI was very nervous about not having foot traffic and people wouldn’t be interested in coming here. So far I haven’t had this problem at all.
Poplin, who started with Southern Roots when he was only online, is now excited every time she walks to the store to pick out a new outfit, Regina said. They usually leave with a little more clothes than expected.
âI definitely have to put a cap on her because if it were up to her she would pick one of everything in the store,â Regina said.
While the children’s clothing brand may be the store’s best seller, Southern Roots also offers adult clothing, including leading southern clothing brands. The shop also sells locally made soaps, tumblers and accessories.
Newton enjoys owning a business, but what she enjoys most is a career that involves her children.
âI needed something that I could get my kids involved in and that’s a big reason I have the children’s clothing line,â Newton said. âThey are involved in it, they become models, they feel that they are part of it. “
Southern Roots is open Tuesday to Saturday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Vacation hours may be different. More information can be found online at southrootsclothing.com.co or by calling 704-762-8634.