When Katherina Mena of Beverly was 5, she wanted dresses, not dolls.
Around 1987, her mother, Lisandra Mones, a single mother and an immigrant from the Dominican Republic who worked at a shoe factory at Shetland Park, helped open the first Hispanic clothing store in Salem, Katherina’s Fashions at 23 Salem St., in the city’s Point neighborhood.
The store still has a yellowed photo from The Salem Evening News that includes Mones posing with, among others, officials of the Salem Harbor Community Development Corp. and city officials, including Louis Mroz, an aide to Anthony Salvo, who was mayor from 1984 to 1989.
Mones had been working out of her home selling clothes before opening the store, Mena said.
As a young girl, Mena was always considered the best dressed, and even when she was little, women would seek out her opinion on their outfits. As a little girl, she remembers dressing mannequins in her mother’s store and going on buying trips to New York City, where her uncle had a fashion store in Manhattan. They would bring back “Spanish-looking” First Communion dresses that appealed to the “international clientele in Salem,” styles that were hard to find in the department stores of the day.
“Since I was little, I was styling,” Mena said.
Mones’ store was located at 121 Lafayette St. when it was wiped out in 1998. A fire in the apartment above caused water damage to the dresses below as firefighters extinguished it. Mones continued to work out of her home. She even opened kiosks at the malls.
More than four years ago, Mena, now 29, opened Glitterati Style, a prom and pageant superstore on Lafayette Street at the former location of Katherina’s.
Today, it’s a boutique catering to those seeking stylish, hand-beaded prom and pageant dresses by designers such as Jovani and Sherri Hill, among others. Dresses range in price from $250 to $1,500. The shop carries prom, Sweet 16, homecoming, evening and cocktail dresses. In 2011, it was nominated by the Salem Chamber of Commerce for an excellence in retail award.