She had worked for months to rebuild her job out of the pieces of her last one, and here was another chance. Meredith Allen, who previously managed Kismet on West Union Street, is now the co-owner of Honey—Athens’ newest lingerie boutique.
If “kismet” refers to destiny or fate and “honey” is a term of endearment, the story behind Athens’ newest lingerie store seems poignant. Meredith Allen, who previously managed now-closed Kismet, found her solace in opening Honey—a women’s boutique in Athens that sells a diverse collection of lingerie and clothing, and jewelry just waiting to be paired with any purchase. Tucked in the store’s back is a small, private adult specialty section—“Wild Honey”.
Honey doesn’t replicate Kismet, but is in part Allen’s response to the fire that burned out Kismet’s building and multiple others on West Union Street in November 2014. “It puts things into perspective. I never expected that a year later I would be here looking out at the burned remains of my old life,” Allen says, wiping a tear from her eye.
Allen co-owns the store with her boyfriend, Wes Thompson. The store, which opened in mid-July on West Union Street, approaches a woman’s sexuality as something to embrace, and Allen says she wants to create a positive and comfortable atmosphere for women. “It’s nice to shop in a place that promotes a female-friendly environment,” Allen says. She emphasizes merchandise, while sexual in nature, doesn’t necessarily have to be about how another person perceives you. Allen believes her items are an avenue of confidence for any woman. “I want it to be about female empowerment,” Allen says. “You don’t need a boyfriend to wear lingerie. Whether you’re going out at night or to a business meeting, it’s about loving your body.”
Allen says she wants Honey to be a store devoid of the often-negative images of women on product packaging. To achieve this, she removes what she feels are disempowering images from displayed products.
She keeps adult products such as vibrators in the store’s “Wild Honey” section behind a white-shuttered partition for customers 18 years and older. Allen, who grew up in a Catholic household, says she understands that such material isn’t something all customers want to talk with their moms about. Although Allen doesn’t display these products up front, she is upfront with her thoughts about their use. “It should be something that you can shop for and not feel shameful,” Allen says.
“Every girl should own a vibrator.”
Locally Exquisite, Mindfully Inclusive
The majority of items and products in Honey are either fair trade or made in the United States, and merchandise sizes are mindfully inclusive. With that being said, Allen is more than happy to special order any size or design of lingerie for customers who can’t find it in-store. “Models in general are smaller, and I think that sends the wrong message,” she says. “You should be able to decorate your body, no matter what size you are.”
The fact that the store is half a block from Ohio University’s gateway aligns with her personal philosophy. “It’s important to have something like this on campus where it feels safe and comfortable. A place you can ask questions, and it’s not weird,” Allen says.
Mallory Ferguson, a senior studying health administration echoes such sentiments, adding, “Honey is a place where you can find things you normally wouldn’t in Athens. The owner really wants to create an environment where her customers feel comfortable and find what they are looking for.”
By offering vintage high-waisted pin-up panties to the contemporary chic little black dress, Honey seems to hit an underdressed fashion sweet spot.