‘Edgy with a hint of glam’: on-the-go boutique puts people first

Carli Barr, owner of a newly operating traveling boutique, Barr Bones, stands in front for her van which operates as her store front which she has parked at the Bowling Green Hot Rods Stadium, Friday Sep. 20th 2019.

Griffin Fletcher

Skulls and pink don’t mix well.

Try telling that to Carli Barr, owner of the online fashion boutique Barr Bones. She defended the business’s logo, a skull with pink glasses, as “edgy with a hint of glam.”

Barr opened the business in July 2018 just over a year after graduating from WKU with a fashion merchandising degree. Starting as an online seller, Barr Bones acquired on-wheels status in July 2019 after Barr retrofitted a bus to hold clothes and provide an indoor shopping experience.

“I’ve always wanted my own business,” Barr said. “I didn’t really think it would be in a bus.”

Painted black and spotted with pink glasses-wearing skulls, the bus draws attention. Barr said it’s not only convenient for making an impression and some quick sales, though.

“We don’t have to pay rent on it,” Barr said.

Barr’s mother, Lily Barr, helps with the business’s upkeep and travels with her daughter when the bus makes stops. The business still operates online from her Owensboro home.

“I’m her right hand,” Lily Barr said of working alongside her daughter. She described Barr Bones as a “dream come true,” noting Barr’s interest in fashion since childhood. However, she acknowledged maintaining a nontraditional business model is not without its difficulties.

“You’re 24/7,” Lily Barr said of Barr Bones’ primarily online service. “You’re never closed.”

Barr managed a storefront boutique shop in Nashville prior to Barr Bones. She said the experience didn’t live up to her expectations, as the shop’s small size required her to work alone most days.

To make matters worse, Barr underwent a botched wisdom teeth removal during her time at the store, leaving her unable to work for weeks, in need of multiple surgeries and jobless.

“It was the worst year of my life,” Barr said.

Barr said it wasn’t until a few days after losing her job that she realized where to turn next. She decided on the name “Barr Bones” after a brainstorming session with a close friend, and a few days later she was her own boss.

Though Barr said this presents its own set of challenges, she said she’d much rather succeed or fail on her own terms.

“It’s always gonna be a struggle,” Barr said. “But it’s your struggle.”

Molly Higgins, a friend of Barr’s since middle school, said Barr Bones is unlike any other business in Owensboro, comparing it to “a food truck but for clothes.”

“I see her do her own thing, and it’s inspiring to see someone go against the grain,” Higgins said.

Barr Bones offers a selection of trendy and bold clothing for all seasons. Though the business features a number of higher-end merchandise, Barr said she’s surprised by how often customers seek out “comfies,” clothing for lazy Sundays and lounging.

Though the business currently features only one bus, Barr said she hopes to eventually expand her staff and keep permanent buses in prime locations across the country. She said her next move is to get a bus in Nashville.

The bus made a stop in Bowling Green last Thursday, Sept. 19, outside of Bowling Green Ballpark from 3-8 p.m. The business made an appearance as a vendor during auditions for the CBS show “Survivor,” which were held at the ballpark that day.

Barr said her main inspiration behind Barr Bones is giving customers a chance to feel happy and confident. She said it’s a gift that keeps giving.

“There’s never a cap to how good you can make people feel,” Barr said.

Barr Bones may be shopped online at shopbarrbones.com and followed on Instagram at shop.barrbones.

Features Editor Griffin Fletcher can be reached at 270-745-2655 and [email protected].