From a young age, Colorado native Kathy King knew she wanted to work in fashion. For most people, this would mean moving to Paris or New York, but King had a different idea—she wanted to start a career right here in her home state. After graduating from Colorado State University and working as a buyer in department stores across the country, she moved to Denver with her husband and began working at Barbara & Company, a small boutique selling high-end clothing for women.
This was more than 20 years ago. Today, King is still there, with one small difference—now she owns the place. The company has expanded under King’s leadership, with a second location in Boulder and a line of products 100-percent handpicked by King herself.
“We strive for a contemporary look,” she says. “We do casual, wearable pieces, as well as more dressed-up clothing. I like fashion that people can wear easily and that lasts a while. I’m not interested in throw-away clothing.”
To scout the season’s best looks, King travels across the country to find unique items that pair well and appeal to Barbara & Company’s main demographic: women over 30. Because of the store’s high standards, King says, these pieces are not easy to find. She visits New York and Los Angeles seven times a year to attend shows and visit showrooms, often working 12-hour days, seven days a week. It’s a grueling process, but also King’s favorite part of the job.
“I like looking at new things and I really like dealing with people,” she says. “It’s fun to develop relationships with all the different vendors and people that represent the lines we deal with.”
King works with a variety of local, domestic, and European lines each season, and tries to see as many clothes as she can in order to cull them down to the very best. She might see as many as 300 items on any given day. When looking for the perfect pieces, King has a few non-negotiable standards: She has to be struck by the color, design, and shape of each item she picks.
“I’ve always believed that the more you see, the more you know,” King says. “It might be a little harder to choose sometimes, but you get a real feeling for what’s happening in the market.”
All of this effort has made Barbara & Company beloved in the Denver and Boulder area, but there’s another component to the business that sets it apart. To King, giving back to the community is an essential part of being a local business owner in Colorado. Every year, Barbara & Company holds fundraisers and food drives to support the company’s three charitable goals: supporting people, caring for community, and promoting women’s wellness. King, a breast cancer survivor, also leads a Barbara & Company team in Race for the Cure each fall.
“We try to support the causes we believe in,” King says. “I’ve always felt really strongly about that.”
Barbara & Company
High-end women’s boutique
1067 S. Gaylord St. (Denver)
1505 Pearl St. #102 (Boulder)