ODESSA, Texas (Nexstar) – This month we are recognizing remarkable women from across West Texas. And for many in the Permian Basin, that woman is Mary Kathrine Johnson Henson.
“Everybody in town start calling me Miss Mary,” Henson said.
Many in the basin say they know Mary Katherine Johnson Henson as Ms. Mary, and others know Ms. Mary for her expertise in fashion by dressing local students for proms, Sunday church, football signings, and social events in the area.
“If you look good, most of the time you would feel good,” Henson said.
Although she is not an Odessa native, she has made her mark as a remarkable
woman with her store Mary’s fashions and her journey as a breast cancer survivor.
“I’m just elated to think enough to nominate me,” Henson said. I used to love to played store when I was a little girl I put a table and I’d make all my sisters and brothers sit there and I would tell them come over here and buy this candy just playing store not knowing one day I would to have a store.
On top of being a remarkable woman in West Texas she is a member of the same sorority as Vice President Kamala Harris.
“I am member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated, pink and green I’m a very proud member active member of Omega chapter here in Odessa Texas I was a member of the Tyler chapter but when I moved here I transferred my membership once an aka always skeewee ladies!
As the oldest of nine children, fashion boutique owner, mother, and breast cancer survivor, she says her main goal is to share and show love to all.
“I love people and what’s crazy they love, Miss Mary!” Henson said.
She says her passion for fashion stemmed from her mother. Ms. Mary then followed her dreams by going to college and which turned into owning her own boutique. Mary’s fashions can be found at 1221 East Tenth Street in Odessa.
“I never had what they call a ppp loan,” Henson said. I started in 1999, started doing little hat shows for the senior citizens over on the south side of Odessa. Then I got more and more calls. I did fashion shows for Blackshear school reunion, Odessa college, just all over the Permian Basin, the Negro business and professional women of Midland churches. I started in my home. I wanted to do hats. Well, the house got too small and I opened up a brick and mortar on the south side of Odessa.
One of her sons who has since passed, suggested she sell men’s clothing and that’s what expanded Mary’s fashions.
“My son who was killed before he died he told me he said mom get man’s clothing,” Henson said.
Ms. Mary says since adding a men’s collection to the boutique she’s gotten the opportunity to dress up several Odessa native NLF players.
“Roy Williams mother loved my clothes, she said, I’m getting this for Roy and I’m taking this to Roy and Roy is going to wear this,” Henson said. Now, I dress Roy Williams son. And Bradley Marquez, who went to the NFL when he was going to Odessa high school his mom came here.
She also hosts an annual fashion show at Odessa college where tv personalities,
Pastor’s wives, educators, and attorneys model in.
“I did a fashion show at Odessa college for a family they were having a family reunion, I put it together I said don’t ask me if you don’t want perfection I want all women I want all colors of women I want all sizes of the women and men and she said okay Ms. Mary so we got on that runway and it started there,” Henson said.
As a breast cancer survivor she says she’s made a pact to bring together survivors and fashion under one roof.
“Over 20 years, I’m a breast cancer survivor I had to ring the bell I had to pull the curtain to get chemo I had to go through getting the chemo in my hand so I decided when the month of October came that I was going to do a breast cancer awareness, pop up here at my own shop with the food truck with a car wash with small businesses out front of my shop not charging them one thing,” Henson said.
She believes her positive outlook on life with the help of God has gotten her to where she is today and her advice to young women in the community is to never give up and look good while at it.
“I hope that I am a living testimony that some other women or young women will see this and want to be not like mike, but like Mary,” Henson said.
She welcomes all to stop by Mary’s Fashions to say hello!