Proud Mary at 433 N. Cleveland is part gift shop, part vintage clothing store, and part art gallery.
After years of helping others with various art and professional projects after she graduated from Loyola University in New Orleans, native Memphian Mary Crockett was looking for her own project. She’d considered doing pop-up sales of handcrafted items and vintage clothing, but when she happened upon a Crosstown neighborhood space for lease on Craigslist, she decided to go all in and open her own shop.
Proud Mary opened in September 2018 with a small but curated selection of handcrafted beauty products, candles, zines, jewelry, and art objects, as well as a hand-picked collection of vintage clothing, shoes, and sunglasses.
“If you pick something up, it was made by an individual, unless it’s clothing or jewelry. We have work from local and national artists from all over,” Crockett says.
Proud Mary’s beauty selection features perfume, bath and body scrubs, lip gloss, and natural deodorants, all created by hand using only natural ingredients.
“The ingredients are often harvested by the people who made the products. They’re dried and ground and used for medicinal qualities,” she says.
There’s a section of the store devoted to zines (handmade DIY magazines) and screen-printed posters. Because Crockett most recently lived in New Orleans, many of the artists represented in the print section hail from that city or from Memphis.
“When I came back to Memphis, I noticed there were a lot of shops selling things that were specific to Memphis, which is great,” Crockett says. “But I thought it might be nice to bring in a mix of local and non-local things and encourage a little cross-pollination.”
Proud Mary recently expanded by adding a back room to hold more vintage clothing. Crockett says customers were telling her they’d like to see more of the retro dresses, pants, and shirts, most of which are from the 1960s, ’70s, and ’80s. She also carries a selection of vintage shoes and sunglasses.
“The sunglasses were dead stock. They were made in the 1980s, and they’re in styles like cat-eye. But they have not been worn yet,” she says. “A person found them in a sunglasses warehouse that was being sold. They were all still in their boxes.”
The store doubles as an art gallery with approximately six art exhibitions per year. Proud Mary holds opening receptions for the artists, and the work hangs on the walls for several weeks at a time.
“We exist to support emerging artists and designers who make things,” Crockett says.
Crockett, who majored in studio art and art history, stuck around New Orleans after college to work on some large-scale art installation projects. She also worked in art galleries and for a lighting designer. But she was forced to move back to Memphis after she began experiencing some health problems.
“I had to quit my job and move in with my parents while I was physically ill for months and months. I didn’t know how long I would be in Memphis,” she says.
Once her health improved, Crockett began looking around for places to hold pop-ups. And that’s when she lucked into the space at 433 N. Cleveland.
“I’d been working on so many other people’s projects that I thought it’d feel nice to get in the driver’s seat and fully realize something that’s my own idea,” she says. “This space was available, and the rent was right. It seems like there’s momentum in this neighborhood, and it’s moving toward a creative bent. I thought I could encourage that further by being here.”