Empire offers fun just for the ladies

Belly dancing, hot chocolate on Thursday nights downtown

Ellway Huang, fashion merchandising junior, and Susan Smith, a dance instructor from Stow, perform at Empire, a locally-owned shop that specializes in henna, chocolate and beauty products, in downtown Kent. David Ranucci | Daily Kent Stater

Credit: DKS Editors

It seems ladies’ night has been a ritual for several years, and Empire is bringing that tradition to Kent.

Catherine Cartwright-Jones, owner of Empire, a locally-owned shop that specializes in henna, chocolate and beauty products, in downtown Kent, said they came up with the idea for a ladies’ night when they were discussing a place for students to go to relieve stress.

“The idea evolved from several of us talking about Empire, KSU and Kent and the richness of people’s skills and imaginations,” she said. “What we thought we could offer was a place people could go to for an evening of joy where they could let all their stresses slip away.”

Ladies’ night is held 7 to 9 p.m. every Thursday from and is free for everyone. Each week, Empire will host a different event, which ranges from henna art, belly dancing, tarot card readings, beauty nights and all with homemade hot chocolate and pastries.

The staff thought these events could be an antidote for tough economic times and gloomy weather, Cartwright-Jones said.

“We think that women in Kent and at the university may enjoy a free evening out dancing, eating chocolate, relaxing with their friends in a beautiful warm place and learning about something fun or trying something new,” she said.

Cartwright said the staff would like to see more people come to the shop because it is a comfortable, pleasant place. They think customers would enjoy it.

Carmel Clavin, Empire employee and recent Kent State graduate, said the ladies’ night is to encourage women to feel more relaxed with the idea that they can take time for themselves.

“Ladies’ night is about people of all varying backgrounds and of different talents who can come in and feel comfortable,” she said.

Cartwright-Jones and Clavin said the inspiration for ladies’ night as a chance for women to meet and spend time together has been a tradition for hundreds of years.

“The idea that we’ve lost a tradition like this that has been around for hundreds, if not thousands, of years of history, it seems like it’s time to reintegrate it into our lives,” Clavin said.

Cartwright-Jones said ladies’ nights in earlier times were happy times, where friends could go out together, be excited about learning or doing something new and just have a great evening together.

“Once, a hundred years ago, there were ladies’ nights, salons, and women’s arts clubs,” she said. “Women could get away from their regular work and relax, really enjoy themselves.”

The turn out for Empire’s ladies’ night this past Thursday was a small group of 10, but they had positive things to say about their experiences.

Senior advertising major Caitlin Goehrig said this was her first time at ladies’ night.

“My friend Vanessa came here a few days ago when they did the free tarot card readings, so she told me about it and said it would be a lot of fun,” Goehrig said.

Goehrig said she hopes more girls find out about it because it’s a good time.

Contact public affairs reporters Christina Thomas at [email protected], and Kelsey Henninger at [email protected].