Located at 815 Lamar Street, Suite A is Side Effects, a funky, fun and stylish fashion boutique owned and operated by Kelly Putnam and her mother, Vivian Heffernan. Reflecting both women's personalities and fashion sense, the boutique is bright and full of flare, selling up-to-date fashion for girls and women of all sizes at reasonable prices. "You don't have to spend an outrageous amount of money to be fashionable," said Kelly.
Born and raised in Sweetwater, Putnam worked as a nurse for 25 years, eight of which were spent with the school district - six years at East Ridge Elementary and two at Southeast Elementary - before deciding she needed a change. "I lost my grandmother, Arlice Heffernan, in May," Putnam said. "We were very close. She encouraged me to go into nursing, which I loved, and then encouraged me to do something completely different. She told me to quit being afraid; to spread my wings and fly."
Why open a fashion boutique? In answer, Putnam said "I love clothes, jewelry and makeup. I'm also a huge hat fanatic. But mainly, I want to bring fashionable clothing and accessories to women of all sizes. The average woman in the US is between size 12 and 16. We're bombarded by the fashion industry and media every day with what they think a woman should look like. I want to change that."
Describing her own fashion sense, Putnam said "I don't dress like anyone else and I like pushing the limits. Every girl is layered. Sometimes you feel funky; other times more business-like. I love to dress up and expose those layers."
On working with her mother, Putnam said, "Mom and I have a blast when we're out shopping. She has a good eye for fashion, and she's very crafty."
Several handmade wreaths, made by Heffernan, decorate the shop walls, adding to the unique air of the store. "Mom and I have also decorated several weddings together," added Putnam. Along with the homemade décor are several jewelry sets made by Putnam's great aunt Evelyn. "Every piece is one of a kind and all originally designed by Evelyn," said Putnam.
Side Effects can best be described by Putnam's brother, Shane. "He said the ambiance of the store is 60s funk with class," she said. "My brother and I are extremely close and he just gets me. We talk about everything and are each other's biggest fans."
Putnam's parents, Lonnie and Vivian, still reside in Sweetwater. Lonnie worked for Georgia Pacific for about 45 years and is now retired. Vivian was a dental assistant for 35 years before retiring. She last worked for Dr. May in Sweetwater for about 17 years.
Putnam and her husband Bennie have four children and several grandchildren: Rhanda Aiken, 26, works in Snyder as a nurse and has a four-year-old son named Raiden; Dee Putnam, 24, works at Georgia Pacific and has a daughter, Keira, 5; Justin Dodson, 24, works for GE Wind and his wife Diana, who works for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Abilene, have three boys - Skylar, 7, Wyatt, 4 and Noah, 10 months; and Jorden Putnam, 17, is a junior at Sweetwater High School and plays center for the Mustangs.
Side Effects first opened its doors on Oct. 5. "It's a slow process, but we're working on bringing more options. We have a small baby section, but we want to expand it," said Putnam. "As well as bringing more clothing options, we want to bring more accessories and home décor - like candles, picture frames, glasses and other knick knacks. We have a little bit of everything, but we plan on having a lot more."
Putnam came up with the name Side Effects for her boutique because of her background in nursing. "Being a nurse, everything has a side effect these days, from the medications we take to the decisions we make in everyday life," said Putnam. "Fashion is the same way. If you look good, you feel good and that inner beauty comes out even more. That's the most important side effect."
Side Effects is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.