College Park: Female Students Find ‘Paradise’ at On Cloud 9 Clothing Boutique

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The window of On Cloud 9 offers “heavenly” solutions for young women in need of trendy attire and accessories within its glass. Photo by Pamela Seaton.

Alright, so you know where to eat on Baltimore Avenue and how to get around, but do you know where to shop? Since College Park is a relatively small town, many believe that besides the few clothing shops it offers–including the Adidas Stripe 3 outlet and REI Co-op–that you have to travel to Downtown Washington to shop for clothes. Since women tend to shop more than men (in-person, anyways), this may seem like a problem to the female students at University of Maryland, but they actually have nothing to worry about. A “heavenly” solution can be found just around the corner (or in this case, across the street).

On Cloud 9 clothing boutique, located at 4513 College Ave., is the only shop in College Park that sells trendy, formal clothing for young women. It originally opened in March 2011 as the second shop of the franchise and was founded by Carol Gowling, a mother of four daughters who was dissatisfied with the lack of trendy clothing found in the metropolitan area. Ten years prior, in her hometown of Potomac, Md., Gowling could not find anything she liked for her daughters to wear to bar and bat mitzvahs. She, as result, opened the original On Cloud 9 shop there and when her daughters outgrew its clothing, opened a second shop in College Park, across the street from where two of them attended university.

This shimmery silver tank ($38) hangs on one of the brightly lit walls of On Cloud 9. The store is showcasing many shimmery and silver items just in time for New Years Eve. Photo by Pamela Seaton.

This shimmery silver tank ($38) hangs on one of the brightly lit walls of On Cloud 9. The store is showcasing many shimmery and silver items just in time for New Year’s Eve celebrations and parties. Photo by Pamela Seaton.

Clothing from the iconic little black dress to large and comfy sweaters to sequin, silver shorts are sold at the shop, along with matching jewelry, gifts and accessories. The shop’s top-selling item, however, has more of a “college feel” to it.

“Our claim-to-fame item is the floral pant, which are the fuzzy pajama pant that come in Maryland patterns and other fun patterns,” said Briana Abedi, assistant store manager and University of Maryland alum.

The walls of On Cloud 9 are lined with clothing from high-end brands, including Alternative Apparel, Lucca Couture, MINKPINK and Vintage Havanna. Photo by Pamela Seaton.

The walls of On Cloud 9 are lined with clothing from high-end brands, including Alternative Apparel, Lucca Couture, MINKPINK and Vintage Havanna. Photo by Pamela Seaton.

Abedi, Gowling and her daughters often travel to roadshows in New York to buy collections from various vendors, including brands like MINKPINK and Vintage Havanna. By seeking out such high-end brands, its prices, to the average college student, may seem costly — dresses are priced at about $68 and sweaters at about $72 — but Abedi believes it is worth it.

“Our clothing and accessories come from many different vendors based out of various locations, [but] we are located in a college town, [so] we try to keep our merchandise affordable.”

“We aim to offer trendy and unique clothing and accessories that are still budget-friendly!”

The outside walls of On Cloud 9 are painted lime green and cream, giving off a comfortable feeling. Photo by Pamela Seaton.

The outside walls of On Cloud 9 are painted lime green and cream, giving off a comfy, warm feel. Photo by Pamela Seaton.

In addition to its “must-have” items, Gowling wanted the shop to have a warm and inviting atmosphere and to be designed in akin with its “paradise” theme. Its outside walls are painted lime green and cream and once you step inside, you are met with bright, white lights, silver tables, and white and stone walls accented with tall green plants. There is also a lounge area where Abedi said many female students come to relax and enjoy themselves outside of the chaotic campus atmosphere.

“[We] even have a fireplace, which makes for quite an inviting ambiance,” Abedi said.

So, if you are a female student at University of Maryland in need of a formal dress for a sorority event or just in need of a place to relax, I suggest that you visit the On Cloud 9 clothing boutique. Though I am not a “Terp,” I find comfort in the fact that I do not have to take a bus and a subway to Downtown Washington just to find something “cute” to wear. I think its items, as well as its location, make it a great fit for the community.

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