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Connecting personally with customers through shoes

Joycey Baby is not your mama’s shoe shop

Jackson — Shoes and psychology may seem like an odd combination, but Joyce Cole-Marion is making the connection at her Canton Mart Square shop, Joycey Baby. A clinical psychologist, she and husband David Marion, a professional counselor and licensed marriage and family therapist, opened the shoe boutique in October 2004.

“Opening the shop was my dream and I could not do it without my husband supporting me and keeping the practice going,” Cole-Marion says. “I have always loved shoes and handbags and felt a boutique was needed in Jackson. There’s not a store like this one.”

The shop is doing well and getting better each month. The owner knows the first few years will be the test but is optimistic about continued success. “I have no regrets. We’ve had a great year and been well received by the community,” she said. “I love this location. Our shop fits in with the other specialized stores here.”

She did some market research before deciding where to open a shoe boutique and felt the demographics were best in Jackson. The shop’s unusual name comes from an affectionate nickname her Dad had for her.

Cole-Marion is the daughter of Charlene and the late Washington Cole. She grew up in Jackson and graduated from Tougaloo College. She earned masters and doctorate degrees in clinical psychology with a medical emphasis from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

She met her husband while working at the North Mississippi Medical Center in Tupelo. The husband-wife team has offices in Jackson, Tupelo and Columbus. Cole-Marion works in the office on Mondays. She admits she enjoys selling shoes but is a bit conflicted about her dual roles.

“Selling shoes is just something I enjoy, and since I could remember I wanted to do something to help people,” she says. “I have to ask if I’m putting my skills to best use. I have a responsibility and privilege to use my abilities and psychology is my passion.”

That desire to help others is felt in Joycey Baby where there’s a warm, welcoming atmosphere. That’s just what Cole-Marion wanted to create. Customers and friends often drop by just to visit and exchange information about what’s going on in their lives. Some people come in just to share a hug with the congenial Charlene Cole who often helps her daughter in the shop.

“I want people to leave here with their feet looking good but also feeling good,” she said. “We hear a lot of stories. It’s amazing the stories that can be generated when talking about shoes. Our slogan is ‘Change your shoes, change your life.’ New shoes can make you feel more confident and change your attitude.”

There are no hard edges in Joycey Baby. The colors are soothing pink and green with everything soft and feminine. With the help of interior designer Jane Shelton, Cole-Marion got the look she wanted, one that would put her customers at ease. “I wanted them to walk in and sort of exhale,” she said. “It’s all about the human connection and being able to share with people.”

She says she and other family members have met many wonderful people through the boutique. “We put a lot in it and like to hear how they feel about it,” she added.

The market area for Joycey Baby extends all around the metro area and beyond as customers tell friends and relatives. Cole-Marion tries to fit her shop’s brands with women in the area. “We want to carry reputable brands that people enjoy wearing,” she says. “We want to keep it fresh and have high quality merchandise and develop a good reputation.”
Cole-Marion says she’s gotten a sense of what ladies in the area like. She and her husband go to market themselves to find shoes just right for Joycey Baby. The upscale brands include Cole Haan, Charles David, Donald Pliner, Anne Klein, Kenneth Cole, BCB Girls and Costa Blanca. Shoppers are welcome to bring in clothes to try on with shoes.

Looking down the road, this busy lady says there may be another location for Joycey Baby, perhaps in one of the cities they considered before settling on Jackson. An additional location might have a different feel but share the same qualities as the original. A Web site is also in the future for this shoe boutique. At first it will be informational only, but the hope is to offer shoes by mail order at a later date.

However, there’s a goal beyond the business aspect. “We want to give back to the community. It’s part of our business plan to donate to the cancer fund on an annual basis or to start a scholarship,” Cole-Marion says. “We’ve done small things for these causes but this will be a long-term commitment.”

She has a close connection to the illness that took her father’s life in 1998 and that her brother, Jack, has successfully beaten. Her dad was also very interested in education. She did cancer awareness projects in Tupelo along with health fairs and reading/literacy programs for children. Now she’s getting back into the swing of things in Jackson.

Staying busy with projects keeps the 38-year-old psychologist energized. Her motivation comes from a strong support network of family and friends. “It would be hard to realize my dreams without that,” she said. “I’m also a spiritual person and that keeps me grounded and inspired.”

Contact MBJ contributing Lynn Lofton at llofton656@aol.com.

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