Meridian Industrial


3/1/2023 | HOPE E. TREMBLAY


Growing up, Kelly Partridge always loved fashion. However, she didn’t imagine she would have her own clothing store.

Partridge first opened GRATI, a boutique storefront in Wilbraham that also has an online warehouse, in 2019 from her Ludlow home.

“I did everything out of my home,” she said. ”However, once the pandemic hit, I had to pivot. I partnered with a warehouse that provided drop-shipping, which allowed me to provide more styles and sizes, while cutting back on upfront inventory costs. So, when you shop with us online, you can shop both our storefront styles, and online exclusives that come directly from our warehouse.”

She said when she started looking for a storefront, she noticed there were no boutique shops like hers in Wilbraham. It turned out to be the perfect location.

“I have customers coming in all the time telling me how happy they are that my shop is in town,” said Partridge.

Her clothing lines are brands you don’t see in every store, which was important to her when curating items for GRATI. “My customers are always telling me how unique the items are in my shop, and that’s what I strive for,” she said.

But the most important criteria, she said, is comfort.

“At this point in life, I have hit the comfort stage,” she said. “Everything I wear has to be soft and it has to be comfortable. When sourcing product for the store I always looks for apparel that speaks to comfort. At the same time, I want to look nice and so do other women. So, I’m always bringing in items that you can be comfortable in, but also wear out for a nice dinner or even to the office. Comfortable fashion doesn’t have to be frumpy.”

Offering a variety of sizes was also something Partridge made a priority, especially when she opened her shop. “The storefront is more of a curated collection of items, but I also have an online warehouse where I am able to provide more sizing options,” she said.

With sizes up to 3X, there are fashionable – and comfortable – items for almost everyone.

While Partridge has always loved clothes, that’s not what drove her to open GRATI.

“What inspired me to venture into this business was actually my experience with domestic abuse,” Partridge said. “When you are experiencing abuse, you lose yourself. You lose your independence, confidence, and all the things you once loved about yourself slowly get stripped away. When I finally left my abusive relationship, I no longer had any idea of who I was. I was really depressed. I remember thinking to myself that if I could just get up every day and get dressed, do my hair, do my makeup, make myself feel nice on the outside, then maybe eventually I could feel good on the inside. It was a lot of work, but I did it.”

Partridge found her confidence again with the help of fashion and she wanted to pass that on to other women.

“It was a terrible experience, but I have gained so much from it in so many ways,” she said. “I’ve been able to move to a place of gratitude, which is where the word GRATI in my business name came from. Without my life experience

I would not be where I am or be who I am today, and I really like this version of myself, so I am grateful for it. I’ve also been able to help other women who have had similar experiences along the way.”

Partridge has her Masters Degree in Nonprofit Management and Philanthropy from Bay Path University, and has always loved working in the nonprofit sector.

“So, when I decided to open my boutique, I knew I wanted it to be mission driven. Each month I select a different charity to give back to, and will plan an event to help fundraise and support their mission,” she said, adding “I’m big on supporting other women in business. You can find products from other local women-owned businesses in the store – Mama Life Oils & Wellness, Cosmos Designs, Weekend Beauty and Mango Fish just to name a few.”

GRATI hosts pop-up events on Saturdays where other women business owners showcase their items. Partridge also has her own clean and cruelty free beauty line. The full line can be found online, with the best sellers in the store.


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