Make your own magic: Boutique owner creates head-turning holiday displays

Published 10:47 pm Saturday, December 16, 2023

NATCHEZ — Olivia Pate’s creative mind works 24/7 non-stop, and it can be exhausting for her.

The results of that creativity, though, are stunning, and drawing attention to her talents and store and indeed, the entire city, from near and far.

Pate’s Olivina Boutique is head turning. The store’s windows at first glance bring to mind exclusive shops in New York, Miami or Paris. But it’s in Natchez and is undeniably a jewel of downtown.

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Flowing ribbon, glittering gold, one-of-a-kind gifts are guaranteed to delight girls — and guys — of any age.

Located at 514 Main St., the building has a history of being someplace that sparks wonder. For many years, it was the home of Dixon’s, which was the location for Waterford crystal, fine china and silver and, like Olivina, many gifts that sparkle and dazzle.

“There is definitely a lot of magic in this building. I love to hear stories about my mom and mom’s friends who come in here. Hopefully in the future, I and Olivina will be part of that Natchez history,” Pate said. “I feel like Olivina definitely belongs in this building. The façade is one of a kind. It gets your attention.”

Pate, who was born in Natchez and lived here until she was four years old, grew up with her mother and siblings in Baton Rouge. The baby of the family, Pate always has yearned to create and entertain, though she has had other dreams, too.

She studied music business for a semester at Belmont University in Nashville, but a bout of homesickness brought her back to Louisiana and LSU, where she studied business.

A chance to share the stage with Kenny Chesney reawakened her desires to sing and be part of the theater, so in 2015, she headed to New York and began studying at the Wiliam Esper Studio in New York City.

“I didn’t know anybody. Obviously, New York is a scary place, but I had my two Scotties with me, which helped,” Pate said. “I really didn’t know what to expect when I got there. I’ve always been theatrical and creative. I thought, let’s dive deeper into that and develop a little craft and see what happens.”

About the time she was auditioning for parts, the COVID pandemic set in.

“I literally had just begun putting myself out there,” when it seemed the entire world shut down.

She moved back to Natchez in June 2020 and opened Olivina Boutique in October 2020.

“Something just inspired me. I thought, I can’t be in New York, so let’s bring a little of New York to Natchez,” she said. “I’ve never had just one dream. I don’t want to be limited by one of my dreams. I want to do it all.”

She said her inspirations for Olivina are Neverland, Wonderland, Glitterville, Whoville and the Land of Oz.

“Those things are a big part of what my shop is. It’s all the things I love. I’ve always been creative. If you were in my head, you probably would be really scared. It’s exhaustifying!”

Pate began making Christmas houses, the popularity of which is almost frenzied.

“They have gotten a lot of attention,” she said. “I’ve always loved the windows on Fifth Avenue. I want to show everyone what I love and it’s all about everybody having an experience. I want Olivina’s customers to have an experience when they are here. In Olivina, you are transported to wherever you want to go in your imagination.”

Olivina Boutique has become a dealer for and ambassador for several exclusive brands, none of which can be found elsewhere in the area.

“Powder is a line that I discovered in New York. They are from Scotland and are a line of headbands, scarves and gloves. Not only are their products unique and quality, their packaging is amazing, which is what originally got my attention. I have gotten very close with that company,” Pate said.

Olivina also carries the much-sought after MacKenzie Childs products, which can also be found in Neiman-Marcus.

“We have unique MacKenzie Childs products for Christmas that nobody else will have,” she said. “Not everyone can drop everything and fly to New York to shop. But you don’t have to. You can get New York right here!”

Pate is particularly close with her mother, Sue Krueger Pate of Natchez.

“Our relationship really developed when she married my stepfather, Mac Pate. I am the baby, so it was just the three of us. We were like three peas in a pod. We all got super close,” Pate said.

Mac Pate died in March 2022, which has been difficult for Pate and her mother.

“I am so glad we have the shop because we both get to create and inspire each other. I gave Sue Sue a little section in the back where she is selling her antiques. It’s called Antiquities by Sue Sue.”

The Christmas season has been a good one for Olivina Boutique.

“This Christmas season has been joyful and triumphant. We have been very busy. Last summer was not good, but I feel like that was the case for everyone. It was just so hot and I think kept people away.”

Pate said, while Olivina Boutique is her private escape from the world, she wants it to be that for everyone who walks in.

“If you are ever having a rough day or a hard day, come here and be transported to a different land. You don’t have to worry about the outside world. Just come here and let go and have fun. Listen to the music and just experience this place. I want people to dream again and just be here. It’s a small town and we get so busy with our day-to-day lives we forget to dream” she said.

“I love how I’m developing my love of crafting and creating here. I want to sell unique things here. I don’t want everybody to have the same things. That’s so boring. We need to each show our own magic.”