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Two Friends Team Up to Bring New Business to Pike Street

A year ago this month, Covington native Kelly Charlton took a chance on her childhood home and purchased a historic downtown building at the corner of Pike and Madison that had fallen into disrepair. After months of renovation work, the first two floors of the building, which include three commercial spaces and a single-bedroom apartment, are complete and Charlton is putting the finishing touches on a large two-bedroom unit on the third floor. To date, two businesses centered on art and design - Durham Brand & Co. and Covington Arts - have set up shop at 2 West Pike and Charlton says she is closing in on a deal to fill the second ground-level storefront.

With the work on her first building nearly finished, Charlton turned her attention to another building on Pike Street just a few doors down from her current project. The former home of Barking Fish Lounge and, most recently, Pike Street Peddler, the 2.5-story building at 10 West Pike was on the market for only a short time before Charlton found out it was for sale. Not wanting to miss out on the opportunity, Charlton made an offer on the building and closed a couple of weeks later.

"When you get the opportunity to be neighbors twice over to such great projects as the Mutual Building, Hotel Covington and Braxton Brewery, you take it," said Charlton.

Although Charlton has only owned the building for a couple of weeks, she is already working to make big improvements to the space. On the second floor, she plans to install new hardwood flooring and appliances, update the electric, and apply a fresh coat of paint throughout the space.

"The apartment will have a modern feel with plenty of natural light, exposed brick and a spiral staircase leading to a loft-style bedroom," said Charlton.

The updates to the upstairs apartment, however, aren't the only good things happening in the building. In the coming weeks, Karla Weisenberger, Charlton's friend and owner of Lulu White, which once operated in Mainstrasse, will be opening a new shop in the first floor storefront. Karla Louise: Bridal Alterations, Accessories, and Designs will provide dress alteration and reconstruction services and will also offer a variety of handmade accessories for brides and bridesmaids, including sleeves, belts, veils, and jewelry. The larger space at 10 West Pike will allow Weisenberger to house her studio and boutique under the same roof.

"Alterations have always been my bread and butter and we will offer anything from the simplest tuck to intricate bead work to a complete dress makeover," said Weisenberger. "I even offer a service that most seamstresses won't: dress reconstruction. My favorite design process to do is to take a bride's grandma's or mother's gown and use the fabric or bits and pieces to create something completely new. This process has such a sentimental value, not to mention they don't make satin the way they used to. Noting can trump the satin from the 1920s to the 1960s."

Weisenberger, who grew up in Villa Hills and graduated from Notre Dame Academy and NKU, has been sewing since she was six and earned a degree in studio art which she says gave her a broad spectrum of art to really develop her hand-eye coordination.

"I studied portraiture and the body for so many years that it really trained my mind to think differently," she said. "I consider myself more of a sculpturist than a designer."

Weisenberger, who struggled with her decision to leave her "wonderful neighbors and a real sense of community" behind in Mainstrasse and move downtown, says was very happy about being able to staying in Covington and is excited about all that is happening in the Central Business District.

"I am so excited for all that's happening around Pike Street. The brewery and hotel are going to really change this block. More so, I am excited about the other small business owners that will be my new neighbors. I knew I wanted to stay in Covington and I think that 10 West Pike provides a great space for me to flourish. I am so excited for this adventure."

Charlton agrees. "Karla is a talented jewelry and clothing designer and an expert in wedding dresses. Her move onto Pike Street will hopefully help downtown become a retail destination. If people aren't already coming downtown, they will be soon."

- Story by Jerod Theobald, managing editor/Photo: Karla Weisenberger (provided)

Slideshow Images & Captions: 
Weisenberger helps a bride with her dress