Smitten carries a variety of jewelry, purses, hand bags, frames, cell phone cases.
Smitten carries a variety of jewelry, purses, hand bags, frames, cell phone cases.
At it's heart, Smitten in Ridgeland is a gift shop. On second glance, it's so much more.

The locally-owned shop features tons of Mississippi-made goodies for everyone in the family, and has an expansive selection of baby clothes, toys and knickknacks.

As you come into the store, located at 207 West Jackson St. just next door to Krilakis Greek Gyros and Salads, you know you've walked into a local shop, and not a chain.

That's by design. As co-owner Emily Hassell explained, she wants her customers to feel like they're going to find something at her store they won't find at others.

"We have a lot of Mississippi products that we carry," she said. "We love to buy local when we can, if not Mississippi-made then Southern-made. We've had a lot of local producers over the years - framers, food products, artists, jewelry, people who make baby clothes - because if we shop local, and we hope our customers will do the same."

The store is the brainchild of Hassell and her two partners, Rebecca Ueltsche and Lauren Gough.

After months of planning over the many coffee tables of Ridgeland, the trio went to the bank and opened the business on August 8, 2008 at its current location.

It's turned out to be a great investment.

All three of the partners put in their time at the store as they balance home and family life - a feeling many of their patrons can understand.

Hassell said the store's location on Jackson Street has been great for the business. As she explained, folks in Madison don't think it's too close to home, and folks from Jackson don't think it's too far out.

"We love our location," she said. "I feel like we can cater to most people in the Jackson metro area. Folks from Brandon and from the reservoir area can come over the spillway."

While there are no plans to open a second store on the horizon and two of the three partners are raising young children, don't bet against the trio finding a way to expand and build on the Smitten brand.

"We feel like we had a great success with Smitten," Hassell said. "The wheels are always turning on ways to get better and expand. We're putting our families first right now, but it's always good to lay out and explore those thoughts and ideas."