A newsmaker you should know: Boutique owner sets aside time to let business go to dogs

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Kandy Barkley’s father, William Knichel, told his children that it was important to give back to the community. The former owner of Knichel Logistics in Richland said that it was important to support those who supported his business.

It was advice that Ms. Barkley took to heart. The owner of Eye Kandy, a boutique in Harmony, Ms. Barkley, 34, of Harmony, has hosted numerous fundraisers in the 18 months since she opened the doors to her clothing shop.

“We learned early on to do community service and I’ve always loved it," she said. "When I opened the store, it was a natural for me to keep doing [community service] in my own hometown.”

Ms. Barkley is hosting “Fashion Fur Paws,” a fashion show May 3 that will feature adoptable pets from Butler County Humane Society and Pet Match, a nonprofit, dog rescue operation in Monroeville. The event will raise money for the two causes and allow guests to apply to adopt homeless pets.

A pet lover with four cats, Ms. Barkley said the idea of sponsoring the fashion show came from her stepmother, Pam Hoeback Knichel, the founder and director of Pet Match.

Ms. Barkley had sponsored a fashion show in October in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month and her stepmother asked her for if she would consider doing one for Pet Match.

“When she asked if I would consider helping her charity, in my mind I instantly pictured dogs coming down the runway,” she said.

Since Ms. Barkley’s father is an entrepreneur, it would seem natural that she is one too, but she never had plans to open a retail store. After she attended Slippery Rock University, she went into the family business, transportation planning and management. She and her sister, Kristy Knichel, took over the reins when William Knichel retired. The two are now co-owners. But after a medical leave made her rethink career goals, she “sort of stumbled” into her new role.

A friend was a manufacturer’s representative and would sell leftover clothing samples at home shows. When she became too busy to continue the shows, she asked Ms. Barkley to take over.

“I loved and discovered I was really good at it,” she said. Then one day when she was walking down Mercer Street in Harmony, she spotted an empty store front, part of the old Harmony Opera House.

“I peeked inside and instantly fell in love with the space. There is an exposed brick wall and just other features that I really loved,” Ms. Barkley said.

In August 2012, Ms. Barkley opened her boutique featuring women’s clothing including those manufacturer’s samples. By October, she was hosting her first fundraiser for the community. Among other fundraisers, Ms. Barkley has held fashion shows to benefit Glimmer of Hope breast cancer research,, the Musella Foundation for brain tumor research, the Harmony volunteer firefighters and the Zelienople Memorial Skate Park.

Many of her events, including the upcoming fashion show, are held in the upstairs of the Harmony Opera House, which has been converted to the shops and concert and show venue.

“It is perfect for these types of events,” Ms. Barkley said.

“Fashion ‘Fur’ the Paws,” will open with an outdoor festival for families from 5 to 6 p.m. May 3 in her boutique, 253c Mercer St. There will be a petting area with alpacas and adoptable pets. The fashion show will be from 6 to 8.p.m.

Information: 724-777-6637 or visit her Facebook page, Eye-Kandy.

Kathleen Ganster, freelance writer: suburbanliving@post-gazette.com.

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