Casual Camel Boutique – BladenOnline
By Cara Beth Lewis
This unique and modern business with a classy and colorful touch is up-and-coming. An extension of the McDougald family business, Casual Camel Boutique runs on fashionable clothing, creativity, and excellent design in the heart of Clarkton.
Camille McDougald, the 30-year-old owner of Casual Camel, shared that she moved back to her hometown of Clarkton after college and has been here ever since. After working in fashion retail for two-and-a-half years, she decided to work for her father at McDougald’s, a well-owned family business in Clarkton that started over 100 years ago, in 1917.
The proud owner of Casual Camel Boutique says, “It has been amazing” to expand the family business. She shared, “I enjoy keeping up with trends and putting things together to make them my own. Mixing styles, whether it’s fashion or home décor, is my passion.” She continued, “When I was little, I would design and draw different outfits and make ‘fashion magazines’ out of my drawings. My mother always had excellent fashion and design taste (she still does). Everything I know about décor and fashion I have learned from her growing up.”
Casual Camels offers women’s clothing, jewelry, accessories, and gift items predominantly. Additionally, there are selections of baby clothing and men’s items. From lounge-wear to wedding guest attire, Casual Camel is a great place to shop. Styling assistance is available at the store for those who need help and are looking to step outside of their comfort zone.
Camille shared, “My father has always put an emphasis on quality and you get what you pay for. I use this theory when buying for my store. I would rather buy a more expensive item, mark it up less, make less profit, and have a happy returning customer because their purchase has held up than sell one hundred items that won’t last.”
How did Casual Camel Boutique come to be?
“Having my own apparel store was always a dream of mine. A couple of years ago I looked into purchasing a very well-established boutique, but knew I really wanted to live close to my family and that was going to change things. I decided not to pursue this and considered starting an online store instead. I researched, made a list of brands I loved, picked a store name that had a connection to me without using my name, and bought a domain for my website. My dad had purchased the storefront connected to our store years before. He remodeled a portion of it for our garden, feed, and seed storage. One day I decided I can still live out my dream without moving away from my parents. I decided to stop thinking and dreaming and just do it. Instead of online, only I would have a small storefront for those that enjoy shopping in person. We gutted the building next to our store and I worked with a dear family friend to design the store I dreamed of owning. He worked tirelessly to bring my vision to life. I have been told my whole life that Clarkton used to be a booming town. I wanted to bring our town back to life by opening a new business where people could purchase things they love and gift items without leaving our community. My sister has a background in web and graphic design. She was living on a catamaran with her husband and cat, but had just decided to move back on land. This seemed like the perfect time to start my website design and begin the process of pursuing my dream.” – Camille McDougald
Presently, Casual Camel has shipped products to customers in 26 different states. The owner is proud of this, as one of her main goals is to see Clarkton thrive as it once did years ago. She stated, “It’s awesome to think all of these people all over the US are ordering clothing from a tiny store in our little old town! In the future I hope people see my store and say ‘Wow, I could open a business in Clarkton too.’”
In her experience as a small business owner, she has learned how supportive the community is, and how people truly enjoy shopping locally. She explained, I think my main take away from running my business on my own is that I now understand why my dad has always worked so hard with little time off. When the business is yours, you feel the guilt of not being there on a day off. You want to know who came shopping while you weren’t there, so you can thank them. You always want to work because there is always room for improvement and you want your business to be as successful as possible.”
Like every business, Casual Camel faces struggles. Issues such as price increases in products and shipping can be difficult, as the store strives to maintain affordable prices for customers.
How does Casual Camel Boutique contribute to the community?
“My father has always been involved in the community and constantly giving back to schools, churches, non-profits, and people in general. He has passed this attribute down to me and I try to give back in the same way. Whether it is a school ad, a raffle donation, buying raffle tickets, or just offering help. I would also like to think we give back by making people in our community feel good about themselves and boost self confidence by providing gorgeous outfits to all.” – Camille McDougald
Thursday and Friday 10-5 Saturday 10-3 (special holiday hours to be announce on social media pages)
Address: 10375 N. College Street. Clarkton NC 28433
Casual Camel Boutique | Facebook
instagram – @casualcamelboutique
“I am more grateful than words can express for the support our community has given my family and this little dream of mine. I have customers that come in weekly, ones that make the drive to shop with me, and online shoppers that make an effort to shop small. This does not go unnoticed. As a small business, I know that our community is what keeps my store in business. Without all of you we would have been able to celebrate our 1 year anniversary on October 29th! The outpouring of love and support from day one has been unreal. I hope people continue to shop local throughout Bladen County and keep all of our small businesses thriving. I am so excited to continue making our customers feel beautiful for years to come. If you have a chance, stop by the store and say hi to the girls and I. We would love to meet you and help you feel like the beautiful woman you are! If you aren’t local, check us out online. We would love to see Casual Camel under your Christmas tree this holiday season!” – Camille McDougald, owner of Casual Camel Boutique