Natalie Boatright’s career in the fashion industry has spanned from giant names like Gap and Neiman Marcus to boutiques and wholesale. But the concept behind her first-ever store – the new Branded Boutique in the former Mill Valley Hat Box space at 118 Throckmorton Ave. downtown – had a decidedly personal origin.

“Over the past few years, I’d be walking around Marin and people would constantly stop me and ask where I got the clothes I was wearing,” she says, noting that she was often wearing clothes she was representing as a wholesaler for the Free People bohemian line. “We realized that there’s a handful of brands that were not available anywhere nearby. So we decided to do something about that.”

Boatright launched Branded Boutique with business partner Kannyn January, who lives in San Luis Obispo and owns stores under the Ambiance brand – born on Haight Street in San Francisco and established in San Luis Obispo back in 1973in Paso Robles and San Luis Obispo. Boatright describes Branded Boutique as a contemporary women’s clothing store that takes a personalized approach to fashion means, with all their clothes have been carefully hand-selected. The shop focuses on “up-and-coming clothing lines, local jewelry designers, and exceptional customer service,” she said.

“These are brands that I was personally buying for myself” – Raquel Allegra, Ulla Johnson, Nightcap and Novella Royale, among others, says Boatright, who grew up in the North Bay and attended Marin Catholic before getting a degree in fashion merchandising from the Academy of Art University.

In opening in downtown Mill Valley, Branded Boutique joins what has long been considered the fashion epicenter of the North Bay, with the likes of The Store, Carolina Boutique, OSKA, Eileen Fisher and Margaret O’Leary, among others, drawing a broad range of apparel lovers.

“I’ve been shopping in Mill Valley for years,” the San Anselmo resident says. “Mill Valley is such a quintessential town. We really wanted to be in a place where there is a great sense of fashion.”

Branded Boutique opens in a space that is steeped in the town’s history. Prior to the decade-long run of the Hat Box, the space was occupied by a laundromat for approximately 20 years. Prior to that, Frank Canepa, who emigrated from Genoa, Italy in 1913 at the age of 17, rented out half of Gosser’s Meat Market, a butcher shop in the space, to open the original Mill Valley Market in July 1929. Canepa later moved the business in the 1950s to its current location at 12 Corte Madera Avenue, expanding the business over time into the adjoining office, pet shop, restaurant and bar. 

In renovating the space prior to opening, Boatright and January had Gosser’s old meat locker removed from the back.

“It’s crazy how long that must’ve been there,” Boatright says.

The 411: Branded Boutique is located at 118 Throckmorton Avenue. Here’s a look at the space: