Though visiting the most well-known department stores in your hometown may be the easiest, in terms of shopping, over the past four years, I have taken it upon myself to expand my list of stores that I frequently visit. I wanted to get outside of basic shops and find something different. Growing up, I did not understand that most hometowns actually carried a huge variety of local boutiques. Some boutiques are outrageously popular, whereas others are still in the process of developing a strong brand in town. Boutiques carry clothing you may not be able to find at a larger store. Once high school hit, I was determined to discover new places. That was when I stumbled upon a Louisville boutique that would soon become one of my favorite ones.

Darling State of Mind, located in Westport Village and Middletown, is a local boutique that sells cute and affordable clothing for women of all ages. Whenever my sister and I would visit the store, our mom tagged along as well to find an outfit of her own. As we continued to visit Darling State of Mind over the years, we quickly got to know the owner and the employees who worked there. We were greeted with smiles upon our entrance and even spent time catching up with employees while shopping for skirts and tops. We constantly came back for different pieces of clothing, and our customer loyalty was clear to the owner. Once Ashley and I had finished up our senior year of high school, we also applied for jobs at Darling State of Mind, which was graciously accepted.

Working at a boutique really is like a dream.

Not only do I enjoy arranging outfits on the mannequins or ringing up the customers, but also it's the atmosphere that makes working in a boutique so exciting. Upbeat music constantly plays as shopper after shopper moves through the store. New arrivals hit the floor day after day at Darling State of Mind, which keeps customers coming back.

As I have continued to shop and work at the boutique, I have also introduced several of my friends to the brand as well. Oftentimes, I'll see a friend walk into the store during work as they search for an outfit for the weekend. It brightens my day seeing other people — friends or strangers — embrace a brand with as much love as I have since my discovery of Darling State of Mind.

If you haven't gotten the chance to check out the local boutiques in your own hometown, I highly suggest you start! Though department stores and bigger shops will always be available for your needs, it can sometimes be beneficial to take a step outside of the norm. Shopping at boutiques has helped me discover unique clothes, home goods, and accessories that cannot be found anywhere else.