Meet Patti Bean, the Force Behind Lowell's Back of the Moon Boutique
When Patti Bean walks into the room heads are sure to turn. People from all walks of life have the same question for Bean: Where did you get your outfit?
Bean considers herself a walking business card for her Lowell boutique, Back of the Moon, where she sells a gorgeous assortment of clothing. The shop, located at 105 E. First St., is much more than your run-of-the-mill boutique. Its offerings are as one-of-a-kind as Bean’s personal style, with vintage-inspired, boho-adjacent, “hippie” clothing and accessories for all ages. Bean works with designers to create two of her own clothing lines for the shop: Back of the Moon and Moon Pye.
The Drive for Design
For years before opening Back of the Moon, Bean did most of her shopping in Black Mountain, near Asheville. She loved the delicate linens and other stylish pieces she found there, and wondered why there wasn’t anything like that available closer to her home in Gaston County.
Bean was raised in Gastonia and now lives about two minutes from her shop in downtown Lowell, she says. She realized that there was an empty niche for unique women’s clothing in Gaston County, and she could be the one to fill it.
Bean’s first shop, Behind the Green Door, was located inside Gastonia health food store Organic Marketplace. She closed it when she realized the demands of running a business were preventing her from spending time with her daughter. But by 2016, her daughter was dating and driving, so Bean decided to give it another go.
She says, “I was sitting in my mother’s den with her at the house. We were watching a Turner Classic Movie and the name of their summer home was Back of the Moon. I looked at Mom and I said, ‘That’s what I’m gonna name it.’ Mom said, ‘You’re gonna name what?’ I said, ‘My next shop.’”
Soon enough, Bean’s mother, who is a watercolor artist, was designing the store’s logo and Bean was getting settled into a storefront on Main Street. A little over a year later, her current location on First Street opened up and she moved in to give her shoppers more space.
Creating a Community of Women
Bean loves being a part of the community of business owners in downtown Lowell. “Almost all of these businesses on this street in Lowell are women-owned,” she says. “It’s really wonderful. And I have so many women that want to open a business that come and check with me to see what’s open because they know that this is women supporting women here in Lowell.”
It’s women supporting women in the community, with other women-owned businesses like Fryeday Coffee Roasters and First Street Home just across the street, and behind the doors of Back of the Moon as well. Bean explains, “The motto of this shop is: A woman should leave here feeling better than when she came in whether she ever buys anything or not.”
Bean greets every customer in her store with a “spirit of joy,” she says. Recently, a customer told her she liked to visit the store when she’s having a bad day, because she never leaves feeling bad. “It just absolutely swells my heart up when they say things like this,” Bean says.
Bean is passionate about helping women develop their personal styles, whether that means regardless of whether they are making a purchase at Back of the Moon. She encourages them to spend as long as they need in the dressing room, experimenting to figure out what works for their bodies and makes them feel confident.
Bean’s philosophy, which she often tells her customers, is that there’s no such thing as dressing too young for your age. She recalls that her mother once told her when she was having doubts about a dress, “Patti, does it have an age in it or a size? If you’re comfortable in it, you feel good in it, and it fits you, have at it.” She reminds herself of this often, and follows her heart when it comes to her wardrobe, which usually means wearing things that other people might consider a bit out of the box. Bean says, “I don’t even know what my box looks like, I’ve not been there in so long.”
Beyond the Outfit
Bean knows she’s not the only woman who enjoys standing out from the crowd with a great outfit and wants to share that joy with those who come into her shop. Lately, however, she’s been thinking about her legacy.
“What’s my legacy going to be?” she asked herself recently. “She had a cute shop?” While helping countless women gain confidence and discover their personal style might be enough for some, it’s not enough for Patti Bean.
“There are people who don’t have money, who don’t walk through these doors,” Bean says. She felt called to help them, too.
That’s why Bean transformed her shop’s winter trunk show into a Valentine’s Day drive for the homeless in conjunction with Pastor Bernardo Porter of Peculiar Generation Community Church in Gastonia. Bean used ten percent of the sales from her trunk show to host a feeding, and also invited her customers to donate supplies like blankets, coats, socks, and toiletries. A donation from Floyd and Blackie’s made it possible for Bean and her colleagues to serve over sixty meals from a food truck to families in need.
“It was not just handing out plates,” Bean says. “It was sitting down at the table with people and finding out what their story is.”
Bean is eager to host another feeding. At the end of the day, whether it’s selling clothes or serving the homeless community, it all boils down to the same thing for Bean: making the people she meets feel “respected, seen, and loved.”