Story and photos by Sara Coates
How Maggie Leigh Came To Be
Caroline Wilborn, owner of Maggie Leigh Boutique in Roxboro, watched her dreams of owning a small business come true overnight. The Virginia native “fell in love with human resources” (HR) during her time in college, which eventually led her to Roxboro and working as an administrative assistant at Eaton. In August of last year, Wilborn decided to visit Roxboro for a shopping spree at 4 Lynn’s Boutique, which would become a life-changing event. Conversations between 4 Lynn’s owner Sharon Kendrick and Wilborn led to the end of one era and the start of another. Within weeks, Kendrick helped Wilborn turn 4 Lynn’s Boutique into Maggie Leigh Boutique, which officially opened its doors on Sept. 22, 2020.
Wilborn explained that this transition was “not tricky at all” due to the support she received from Kendrick, her own family and friends, and the community. Wilborn, who values customer interaction, is happy to be working in Roxboro, where the people are “truly what make the town so special.” The community has been “so welcoming to me as an outsider,” she said. “I have been so impressed by the way people have rallied around me here.”
A Support System That Feels Like Family
One of those who was quick to rally around Wilborn was Madison Fuller, a Person County native and Roxboro Community School graduate who has always valued her community’s “immaculate small-town vibes.” Fuller could tell Wilborn needed social media help, so she reached out to be kind, suggesting that Wilborn create an account on TikTok.
“I told her I didn’t know the first thing about that,” said Wilborn, “but she told me not to worry and asked when she could come by to help.”
Local photographer Jenna Williams of Cosmic Media Co. also stepped up to assist Wilborn. The relationship between those two began back in 2019 at a photo session.
“I had no idea that our relationship would blossom the way that it has,” Williams said. “When she told me she was going to open a boutique, I instantly offered my services.” Now, Cosmic Media Co. does the store’s branding photography as well as product shots and headshots when needed. “I think it is important for people to know the face behind Maggie Leigh, as Caroline is what makes it so special,” said Williams.
In addition to Fuller and Williams, many of Wilborn’s family members continually volunteer their time, for which she is grateful. Kindness like this has helped Wilborn create a supportive environment that feels like family.
“I want my store to be inclusive,” said Wilborn. “I want people to know it's OK to be themselves here.”
Desire To Make An Impact
Wilborn’s past experiences in retail and HR have driven her desire to empower women by leaving an impact on their lives. Throughout college, she worked at a boutique. She recalls going to work underdressed once and being told to “never do it again.” Wilborn strives to keep anyone in her store from feeling the way that she did that day.
“I want people to be comfortable in their own skin in my store and have a variety of styles to pick from,” she said. Wilborn also recalls how frustrating it was to enforce rules she didn’t make while working in HR. “Here, at Maggie Leigh, I am in control of the environment,” she said proudly.
She is pleased that her employees are comfortable opening up to her and are being “their true, authentic selves” in the store. “It's important for me to run a business that lifts women up because there were so many times in my professional career where I didn’t feel like myself or my thoughts were welcome,” said Wilborn. Seeing this impact come to life is what makes her proudest thus far. “Being able to do this gives me enough happiness and fulfilment to last a lifetime,” she continued. “I love that owning a business gives me these opportunities, which I hope to eventually use to make an impact on the entire community as well.”
Already Making A Difference
Fuller and Williams would argue that Wilborn has already made a positive impact here.
“I wanted to work with her because I had a feeling she would be a great boss,” said Fuller. “She was super sweet the first time that we met and made me feel good instantly.”
In agreement, Williams said Wilborn was “genuinely one of the most kind-hearted people [she] had ever met,” which is why she wanted to support her.
Fuller never planned on being at a boutique, but is “more than happy with the way things have worked out,” as working with Wilborn has opened up so many opportunities for her. “She’s made me realize that my talents can be more than just a hobby that I push to the side,” Fuller said. “I’ve learned just how great the payoff can be when you are willing to be kind and take a chance.” Fuller said she believes the community should support Maggie Leigh because of the impression Wilborn leaves on people. “Customers are always walking out of here with a smile, even if they didn’t buy anything, just because Caroline is always so willing to help.”
Williams also credits some of her accomplishments to opportunities she has been given by working with Wilborn. “Thanks to my work with Maggie Leigh, I was officially published for the first time in Hyco Lake Magazine,” said Williams. “I believe that Caroline is creative in ways I am not, so together, we create something beautiful.” She continued, “I love that seeing things from her point of view changes my perspective on even more than just my work.” Williams said that working with Wilborn fulfills her soul. “As soon as you walk in, Caroline grins from ear to ear and lets you know how welcome and loved you are,” she said. “I will always support [her], even if our business relationship doesn’t work out. I have never met someone who deserves to succeed as much as she does. She is genuine, honest, kind, a true friend, and she has an amazing sense of style.”
Many women had an impact on Wilborn’s life; each one empowering her in a unique way. Wilborn spoke of her mother’s “super crazy work ethic” and a “fashionable” aunt. The store is named after her grandmothers, as a tribute to their impact on her life and the way they spoiled her. Wilborn goes about empowering others by finding their strengths and figuring out how she can support them and their journey. “For example, I love customer interaction and the business side of things, but Madison blows everything I’m not so good at right out of the park,” Wilborn said, “I get to help her pursue her passions through my weaknesses, which is really beautiful.”
Referring again to her past, Wilborn pointed out that she still faces challenges as a business owner from people like sales representatives, who doubt her because she is a woman. “The older I get, the less this personally bothers me,” said Wilborn, “I just don't want others to be treated that way. They shouldn't think that they have to just accept it.”
As a result of her own experiences, Fuller said she agrees that women shouldn’t be subject to such disrespect. “Women should get to be unapologetically confident while doing daily work,” she said. “Maggie Leigh is all about making people feel positively about themselves,” Fuller continued. “For us, finding pieces of clothing that can suit all body types is such a rewarding process because it helps people find that feeling.” Fuller also talked about the way nice outfits empower her. “It makes me feel better to be in clothes that make me feel good.”
As for Williams, female empowerment is “nearly the forefront” of her business. As a mother, Williams said she wants her daughter to see strong, female role models. “I want her to see that women can be bosses, not bossy.” In December of 2020, Williams ran her first boudoir group session with seven women of all ages and body types. “I saw each woman’s confidence rapidly rise over the course of the day, as each of the girls cheered each other on during their shoots.” She continued, “It was beautiful to see women supporting women and how that affected how they felt about themselves.” This is why the supportive environment at Maggie Leigh is equally important to Williams.
What Comes Next
For the young women reading this today, Williams said she wants them to remember that they themselves are their only competition. “We are all unique and can bring a different set of values and ideas to the table,” Williams said. “Make friends with other people in your career field” if serious about going far.
Fuller said she believes it’s important for young women to try and find their passions as early as possible “and never be scared to chase them.”
Wilborn said, if she could give advice to any young women just starting out, she would also encourage them to chase opportunities that they are passionate about. She said she wishes she had done that sooner, as she believes taking risks can pay off in the end.
For Wilborn, the most challenging aspect of running a business has been having to say “no” to young girls looking for opportunities. “So many of them come through my door and want a job, and I just can't help them all,” she said. “That crushes me.” In the near future, Wilborn’s goals are to hire a full-time worker and continue to grow the boutique’s social media presence. An online storefront is on track to be ready by the end of the year.
Fuller said she is excited to continue working with Wilborn and is content to do this type of work forever, as “it doesn’t feel like a job” since she has “gained a friend, not a boss.”
As for Williams, she plans to continue perfecting her craft and giving back to the communities that mean the most to her. She would love to own a boudoir studio, as well as go full time in photography, but most importantly continue setting the example for her daughter and young girls that “you can truly do anything you set your mind to, and there’s more than one way to define success.”
Wilborn said people should shop at Maggie Leigh because each purchase supports her dream and other women. “Every piece of clothing is carefully curated by myself and my supporters,” she said. “I try to make it unique because I want your clothes to be special, one-of-a-kind items that you value.” Each one comes with a tag that reads, “you’re never fully dressed without a smile,” said Wilborn. “That’s like our motto. We want to see you smile.” Maggie Leigh Boutique might not have “everything for somebody,” Wilborn concluded, “but there is something for everybody here,” including encouragement and support.
If you’re interested in experiencing this empowerment, love, and positivity, you can visit Maggie Leigh Boutique at 905 N Madison Blvd, Roxboro, NC 27573. The store is open Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Give them a call at (336) 322-0435.
Sara Coates is a graduate of Roxboro Community School, where she developed a deep love for journalism. She is currently studying social work with plans to someday work within our foster care system. Sara loves spending her free time working at Small World Daycare in Timberlake and writing for Hyco Lake Magazine.