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Primitive Beginnings, a longtime e-commerce shop, takes its concept to Main Street

Ten years ago, Ellicott City resident Katy Miller was driving back from Maine when she first devised the plan for the e-commerce shop Primitive Beginnings.

"I've always been creative and artistic. I was looking for ways to do that, and my business served that purpose," Miller says.

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The concept was reflected in the name: taking something that once was, and turning it into something else.

"I wanted to have primitive in the name because my style at that time was primitive, and I like things having a life before," she says.

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Today, that concept is a new addition to Ellicott City's Main Street. After a pop-up in nearby Taylor's Collective, Primitive Beginnings opened in its own space in late March.

Inside the light blue and white storefront are vintage-looking dresses; T-shirts with cheeky sayings, like "Whiskey & Yoga;" one-of-a-kind jewelry; succulents planted in ceramic heads, homewares like Edison bulbs and men's items in the shop's "mantiques" section.

Miller says Primitive Beginnings grew as her children got older and she had more time to commit to the business. She took it on the road to trade shows like the Country Living Fair.

Leann Martin discovered Primitive Beginnings eight years ago at a fair in Virginia. "You can't help but be drawn in with the way she puts things together. It's just so unique," she says.

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Miller largely credits her recent success to her new business partner, Jeff Braswell of Clockwork Synergy. The two met during Miller's brief stint in Taylor's last fall.

"I think he's kind of the unsung hero in all of this. Yeah, the store was my idea, but where it is now and where it's taking off to next, is all him actually."

Braswell has taken over the web commerce arm of the business and his influence can be found in many other areas.

"I found a woman through Etsy to help design T-shirts down in Atlanta, but I really wanted someone local. Jeff knew a guy that knew a guy," Miller says. "If he says something, consider it done."

After the successful run at Taylor's, Miller found opening up on Main Street to be a no-brainer.

"I liked the idea of being a part of the culture and renaissance that is Main Street," she says.

Now in the building that once held A Journey From Junk (which is holding court next door), Primitive Beginnings fits in, offering up-cycled children's books turned into notebooks and other repurposed items.

Longtime customer Jamie Smith thinks the brick-and-mortar store will be a hit.
"Anyone that likes eclectic and rustic items will love it," she says.

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