Alumni Spotlight: Cierra Stokes ’09

Cierra Stokes (center) with FPD alumni at their ten year reunion

Just in time for Christmas shopping, we wanted to touch base with Cierra Stokes ’09, FPD alumna and owner of one of Macon’s favorite boutiques, Karats and Keepsakes. Cierra had no idea her journey would lead to one day owning her own store, but is loving every opportunity to provide her customers with amazing treasures and excellent customer service.

What was your journey to now owning Karats and Keepsakes?

I originally began working at Karats & Keepsakes as a sales associate my senior year at FPD. I worked there throughout college and then moved around a little, but always worked in the fashion industry. After managing a chain of boutiques in Augusta, GA and then working as a Wholesale Account Manager at AmericasMart, I felt a calling to come back to Macon. At this time, the management and head buying position at Karats & Keepsakes was offered to me. I accepted and maintained that position for about 3 years until I approached the previous owner about purchasing the business. After I approached her, it took about 7 months to close the deal and the store was officially mine on May 10, 2019.

Have you always had an interest in fashion and retail?

My heart has always been in fashion. I have always used it as my creative outlet. I never really knew I would ultimately end up in the retail side of things, and to be honest, I always said I didn’t want my own store. Every time I tried something new within the field, I kept being called back to retail in one way or another. Ultimately it all worked out, and I’m so glad that it played out this way!

What is the most rewarding part about owning your own business?

The most rewarding part of owning my business would be the freedom it allows me. I work more than ever, but I’m so fortunate to be able to take the shop in the direction I want to. It’s that creative freedom that drives me to keep driving my business.

Why do you think Karats & Keepsakes is such a special store for Macon?

Karats & Keepsakes is the longest standing boutique in the town. This April it will have been open for 33 years. I think that in itself makes the shop so unique and special. It’s truly a legacy in Macon and I’m honored to get to continue that for years to come.

Any particular favorites in store that people should come check out for Christmas?

Of course I’m biased to things in my shop, but I really work hard at curating the perfect collection for people during the holidays. We dive deep into providing the perfect holiday wear, amazing clothing and jewelry to go under the tree, and other accessory and gift items for those that are hard to shop for. As far as specifics, my favorite items to suggest as gifts would be Sheila Fajl hoops, a good leather jacket, or anything Free People.

In relation to your days at FPD, what teacher(s) stand out as having a particular impact on your life now?

Going there 5K through graduation, there are so many to choose from. That being said, the first person who popped into my head when reading this question was Mrs. Cole. She was my first grade teacher and made a significant impact on my life from a very early age. I will always cherish my early years spent in her classroom.